The Rangers management must get Lundqvist the Cup he deserves
When your team’s only superstar is in net, you don’t win the Stanley Cup. When your team’s highest paid player is the goaltender you don’t win the Stanley Cup. It’s really as simple as that and it’s the problem the New York Rangers have had since the 2005 lockout. Henrik Lundqvist is their superstar. One of the most legendary goaltenders of all-time is great to have but he can’t put the puck in the net for you. Let’s be absolutely clear here: The New York Rangers will not win a Stanley Cup until they can find and obtain at least one offensively minded bonafide superstar.
Alexander Ovechkin was an absolute beast for the Washington Capitals on their way to winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. He led the playoffs with 15 goals and even when he didn’t have the puck on his stick he did all he could to ensure the opponent would not have an easy time on the ice. Not to be understated are the contributions of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom who both performed admirably and were stars in their own right in helping the Capitals get their first title in franchise history.
We don’t have an Alexander Ovechkin. We don’t have an Evgeny Kuznetsov. We don’t have a Nicklas Backstrom. A dominant superstar winger. A crafty center with dazzling hands. One of the best pure passers of this generation. What do the Rangers need to do? Well it all starts at the draft. It’s not all about the free agent signings (although if John Tavares did sign here… nevermind. Don’t get your hopes up.), it’s about drafting extremely well, hitting on your picks and making key trades at key times.
If the Rangers want to win a Stanley Cup in the foreseeable future, there can be no more incidents like the 2006 and 2010 drafts. Management needs to perfect on their picks in the next coming years. They can’t afford to go off-board or reach too far. If they know a player is good, take him. If they see a player they don’t want to pass up on, then trade up for him. Don’t take another Bobby Sanguinetti over Claude Giroux, don’t take another Dylan McIlrath over Vladimir Tarasenko or Cam Fowler. Also, management better hope that Lias Andersson pans out as well because Casey Mittelstadt looks like he could be forming the next great 1-2 punch with Jack Eichel in Buffalo and they left him sitting there at #7 last year. We’re not going to talk about 2003 because the Jessiman selection was likely the worst Rangers 1st round picks in history.
The Rangers currently sit at nine this year but they should look at every single opportunity they can to move up in the draft. Talk to the Hurricanes, talk to the Canadiens, talk to the Senators, talk to the Coyotes. They need to do anything they can and look at all possibilities. If the Rangers have a chance to take Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina they must take their shot. Players like that don’t come around very often and getting one of them would be exactly what the Rangers need to start turning this thing around.
Looking ahead good trades and supporting free agent signings will be key as well. If a trade target presents itself, pull the trigger. That’s why you acquired all these assets. To use them in any way that can help the team moving forward.
This rebuild, this retool, whatever you want to call it needs to be thought out well, and it needs to be executed with perfect accuracy. Ovechkin had his moment this week and we all want Henrik Lundqvist to have his. It starts on June 22nd, 2018 when the New York Rangers select players in one of the deepest entry drafts in years who will hopefully become building blocks for a Stanley Cup contender. A silver lining here is that even if the next two season don’t go well, that gives the Rangers a chance at Jack Hughes next season and Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield the season after. Acquiring one of those guys… well let’s cross that bridge if we ever get to that point.
One last question to answer: Does this team have anyone with superstar potential in their system? That’s really hard to say. Filip Chytil might be the closest thing if he pans out the way we all hope but that’s not certain. Lias Andersson seems like he will be a great leader and two-way player someday but that’s not exactly superstar status. Brett Howden? Libor Hajek? Who knows. The Rangers have done a nice job building their asset group this past year but none of them may be the superstar this team so desperately needs.
The Carolina Hurricanes had a young dominant Eric Staal. The Anaheim Ducks have Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and had Temmu Selanne. The Detroit Red Wings had Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and the greatest Swedish-born defenseman of all-time in Nicklas Lidstrom. The Pittsburgh Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Chicago Blackhawks had Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. The Boston Bruins have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and had a budding superstar in Tyler Seguin. The Los Angeles Kings have Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. The Washington Capitals… well we know who they have. Now it’s time for the New York Rangers to get some superstar players of their own.
Get Henrik Lundqvist the Cup he deserves.