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Examining the New York Rangers

by John McGourty

Complete Rangers Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Rost

Optimism abounds in New York

Amid all the optimism surrounding the New York Rangers, it’s easy to overlook the fact that they actually finished with six fewer points last season than they did in 2005-06 — and that with six weeks to go in the regular season, they were on the verge of missing the playoffs. But after a fast finish and their first playoff series victory in 10 years, there is real cause for Stanley Cup dreaming in the Big Apple.

The Rangers made the biggest moves in the free-agent market this summer when they signed a pair of centers from Eastern Conference rivals: Scott Gomez from the New Jersey Devils and Chris Drury from the Buffalo Sabres. Gomez, one of the NHL’s best passers, will likely play between Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka on what should be one of the NHL’s best offensive lines. Drury, a 37-goal scorer last season and one of hockey’s best clutch players, will center for Sean Avery and Brendan Shanahan in what should be an excellent two-way line.

The Rangers have great depth — they could send out five lines with NHL experience. More than that, they have a host of prospects — including Marc Staal, Brandon Dubinsky, Nigel Dawes, Alex Bourret and Michael Sauer — emerging from the past few draft classes. The young prospects will challenge for jobs at training camp and could dislodge some veterans by season's end.

The goaltending is solid with Henrik Lundqvist back for his third season. In fact, the Rangers' revival is closely tied to the Lundqvist's play. As he goes, so go the Rangers. Lundqvist is on a one-year contract, a strong incentive to do well. With Lundqvist expected to play 70 or so games again, the Rangers are likely to leave former No. 1 pick Al Montoya in the minors and use journeyman Stephen Valiquette as Lundqvist’s backup.

The defense has been adequate for the past two seasons and the core remains, losing only Karel Rachunek. Michal Rozsival, Marek Malik, Paul Mara, Jason Strudwick, Dan Girardi, Thomas Pock and Fedor Tyutin will be joined by Andrew Hutchinson, who was acquired from Carolina to give the Rangers a strong shot from the point on power plays.

2006-07 Record:
42-30-10, 3rd Atlantic

Who's In:
F Chris Drury, F Scott Gomez, D Andrew Hutchinson, D Joe Barnes, F Mitch Fritz

Who's Out:
G Kevin Weekes, D Karel Rachunek, D Brad Isbister, F Michael Nylander, F Jed Ortmeyer, F Matt Cullen

2006-07 Leading Scorers:
Jaromir Jagr (30-66-96), Michael Nylander (26-57-83), Martin Straka (29-41-70), Brendan Shanahan (29-33-62), Sean Avery (18-30-48)

2006-07 Goaltending Leaders:
Henrik Lundqvist 37-22-8, 2.34 GAA, 70 appearances, .917 save percentage, 5 shutouts; Kevin Weekes 4-6-2, 3.39 GAA, 14 appearances, .879 save percentage, 0 shutouts; Stephen Valiquette 1-2-0, 3.13 GAA, 3 appearances, .867 save percentage, 0 shutouts
                  's 2007-08 Rangers Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster
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