New York Rangers roster preview – young and talented

Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Rangers open their 2019-20 on Thursday with a very young team. What they lack in experience, they make up for in talent.

Its no secret the New York Rangers have been rebuilding the past two years. In doing so the Blueshirts have acquired several young and developing talents. Eight players age 23 and under will be on the roster when the team takes the ice at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night for the season opener. The youngsters outnumber the old guys (30 and over) two to one. Let’s take a quick look at the roster.


The crease at MSG still belongs to the King, Henrik Lundqvist. In the history of New York Rangers hockey, he is probably the best ever to defend it. Now 37 years old, Lundqvist is in the sunset of his 14-year career. The transition to the next generation began last year and should continue in 2019-20.

Backup Alexandar Georgiev is expected to start about 40 percent of the Rangers games this season. In 2018-19, Georgiev had a 2.91 goals against average, and .914 save percentage. Expect to see a cameo or two from the man who is the heir apparent to King Henrik’s throne, Igor Shestyorkin, who will start the season in Hartford.


The Rangers defense last season wasn’t very good. Kevin Shattenkirk was brought in to be the savior of this unit but instead was a big part of the problem. His big contract was bought out over the summer and is no longer part of the team. General Manager Jeff Gorton has worked hard to give the blue line a new look this year.

Marc Staal, Libor Hajek, and Brady Skjei all return. Skjei scored 25 points for the second straight season, after a career-high of 39 points in 2017-18. Also back is Tony DeAngelo. He is an immense talent but finds ways to put himself in coach David Quinn’s dog house due to maturity issues both on and off the ice.

The big changes will be due to a pair of newcomers. Jacob Trouba was a rising star in Winnipeg. Last year he scored 50 points including 18 on the man advantage. Gorton was able to get Trouba because as a restricted free agent, he was going to be too expensive for the Jets to sign. Expect him to play on the top pair as well as quarterbacking the power play. Also new to the team is rookie Adam Fox. The Long Island native was a three-time All-American at Harvard before turning pro this summer.

New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /


There were two huge offseason acquisitions among the New York Rangers forward corps. The second was their signing of high profile free agent Artemi Panarin. He is the big-time scorer this organization has lacked for a long time. Panarin has averaged 80 points per season over his four-year career. Joining the Russian scorer on the Rangers top line are center Mika Zibanejad, and right-wing Pavel Buchnevich.

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Of course, the biggest story happened at the draft. Picking second overall, the Rangers selected right-wing Kaapo Kakko. The 18-year-old has been a bonafide scorer on every level he’s played and is described as a franchise talent. He spent last season in Finland’s top professional league putting up 22 goals and 16 assists in 45 games. Chris Kreider will play on the second line as Kakko’s opposite wing. He’s in the final year of his contract and if recent history holds true, Kreider might not finish the season in New York.

Now we get to the big problem. Although several have tried, none of the Rangers other centers have established themselves as top-six quality. To start the season, Ryan Strome has the job as the second-line pivot. Brett Howden and former first-round pick Lias Andersson are the other centers on the opening night roster. The Rangers are hoping that Andersson can become the scorer they envisioned when the team selected him seventh overall in 2016.

Howden will center Vlad Namestnikov and Jesper Fast on the third line while the Blueshirts go with Andersson between a combination of Brendan Lemieux, Brendan Smith, Greg McKegg, and Micheal Haley on the fourth. There are some heavyweights in that last group so we can expect more grit from the bottom six. Two highly regarded former first-round picks, center Filip Chytil, and Vitaly Kravtsov will begin this campaign in the AHL, but both will play for New York this season.

Next. 3 goals for Knicks Julius Randle this season. dark

It’s unlikely the Rangers make the playoffs, but this season will be the foundation for success in the years to come.