Question 7: What is the Rangers biggest need?
This is a tough one to categorize, due to the variety of comments. Fans always think their team needs more of something. No fan is ever “content” with the status quo, it’s in the job description. I had to aggregate some of the answers, but only three responses had double-digits. So with all due respect to other needed areas of improvement such as experience (it is a young team), consistency, and more shooting, here are the top responses.
Third Place: Secondary scoring/ better second line – 14.3 percent
Artemi Panarin has been all the New York Rangers expected and more this year. So far he has justified the seven-year, $81.5M contract he signed in the offseason with 21 goals and 48 points in 37 games. His center, Mika Zibanejad, is also better than a point-per-game with 29 points (14 goals) in 25 games played. After the top guys, there is some drop-off.
Although Ryan Strome has been a revelation this year with 31 points in 37 games, Chris Kreider is the only other Rangers player on a pace to have over 20 goals in 2019-20. Someone else has to step up and make other teams defend more than Panarin/ZBad.
“Second-tier goal scoring behind Zib and Breadman. Too much reliance on the two top forwards. Kreider, Buchy, and others should be doing more to contribute.” – Gary Staines
Second Place: Muscle/Toughness – 24.5 percent
This is the NHL, where the big boys play. A young team, lacking experience, like the Rangers, is something opponents look to exploit with physicality. Someone has to protect the Kaapo Kakko’s of this team. In addition, it would help them immensely if the Blueshirts had more players who could put a “hurt” on the other guys.
“Rangers are being headhunted each game with no Tom Wilson to protect.” – Jim Madden.
First Place: Defense – 29.3 percent
“Defense” is a general term, but encompasses a few areas. Some people are looking for a lightning-rod power-play quarterback. Others think they need a bruising stay-home type, like Jeff Beukeboom, to patrol the defensive end and keep opponents away from the front of the net. Regardless almost 30 percent think the Rangers defense corps need some upgrade.
“They need another blueliner with experience who can play big minutes and settle the D down.” – Arsenio Rodriguez.
“Need someone who other players fear and will clear the front of the net without taking an excessive amount of penalties.” – Brian Drinkwine