The New York Rangers' 2013-14 season began with a number of major changes and ended with an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final. But the roster that takes ice on opening night against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 9 will have some major changes from the one that lost in L.A. four months earlier, and the success of those changes figures to dictate whether they will make a return trip to the Final.
Free-agent departures, trades and a compliance buyout used on forward Brad Richards cost the Rangers five regular players from the team that won the Eastern Conference. The departures include top-four defenseman Anton Stralman, key checking center Brian Boyle and scoring wing Benoit Pouliot, all of whom left as unrestricted free agents. Replacing the skill sets of each player will be challenging, but the Rangers did their best to fill the holes on their roster.
"I think we look good. We're trying to fill in some depth positions, we lost some guys. Anytime you have success like we had, guys tend to get better opportunities somewhere else, more money, which in the cap world we couldn't handle," Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton said. "So you go out and you work with your staff and try to identify guys that you think can fill those holes. One of the things we tried to do was do it fairly cheaply, considering the cap didn't go up maybe as much as we thought it might."