It is no surprise that the New York Rangers need to look toward the future, since just over a year ago they issued a letter to the fans stating the rebuild. What may come to the surprise for fans is that they are not that far off from becoming a competitive team for a playoff spot again. Just like everyone else, when you hear rebuild, you’re thinking three-plus years of being at the bottom.
With general manager Jeff Gorton at the wheel, he has shown that this offseason is going to be pivotal for the rebuild. Gorton has no signs of sitting back and is ready to make some moves. Between the plethora of draft picks and the young talent already in the organization, the rebuild might be done faster then anticipated.
Draft day is a very exciting time for Rangers fans, especially when you have the upcoming second-overall pick. This is just the second time in Rangers’ history that they have the second-overall pick. Rangers fans look to add a huge, NHL-ready piece to the roster on June 21. By the look of it, it will either be American stud Jack Hughes or the Finnish playmaker Kaapo Kakko. With the New Jersey Devils holding the first-overall pick, it is likely they will pick Hughes. For the Rangers, this helps their winger depth, where they have been missing consistency and a prime scorer. They look to add that with Kakko.
After the second-overall pick, the Rangers have nine other picks in the 2019 Draft. This will be a great chance for Gorton to do a few different things. There is the obvious option to take the picks and add good youth prospects to the organization. A different approach would be to package some of these picks to move up in certain spots so they can draft a few higher draft prospects. Lastly, they could package some picks with players and make trades to acquire a player from another NHL team.
The Rangers have been very productive and busy this offseason with prospects as well. With the ninth-overall pick last year, the Rangers drafted Vitali Kravtsov, who is a talented playmaking winger. Kravtsov led all players younger than 20 in the KHL in goals, assists, and points. This offseason, they signed him to an entry-level contract. They also signed goalie prospect Igor Shestyorkin to an entry-level contract, who is another highly looked upon prospect. Shestyorkin last season in the KHL went 24-3-1 with a goals-against average of 1.11, a save percentage of .953, and had 10 shutouts. With this signing, they may have found the goalie who will eventually replace all-star goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Not only were they busy signing their own prospects, but they also traded for a highly praised prospect in Adam Fox. Fox finished up playing his season at Harvard University, where they made it to the Frozen Four tournament but lost in the first round. There was quite the speculation of where Fox would go if he didn’t sign with the Carolina Hurricanes. Ultimately, the Long Island native wended up going to the Rangers.
With the addition of Fox, the Rangers have a very good prospect pool in their organization. Fox is added to the pool of K’andre Miller, Kravtsov, Shestyorkin, Filip Chytil, and Lias Andersson, to name a few. Having 10 upcoming picks in the 2019 Draft, they look to add even more high-end prospects for the future.
Not only do the Rangers have plenty of draft picks, but they also have cap room to spend some money on some players. This is where the Rangers will look to speed up the rebuild process more. With players like Artemi Panarin and Erik Karlsson becoming free agents at the end of the season, the Rangers could make a real run at these franchise-changing players. With the addition of a player like Panarin, your offense will instantly jump up to a dangerous offense, with his ability to create chances and score. Or with the addition of a Karlsson, your offense coming from the blue line will immediately become impactful. Karlsson’s ability to create opportunities will flourish with the young talent the Rangers have. With this in mind, the Rangers’ future looks very promising.