The New York Rangers open up their season 90 days from now at home against the Colorado Avalanche. While there is still work to be done (Zibanejad extension, filling the Center positions,) Jeff Gorton has had a pretty successful offseason to date. This week Gorton a.k.a ‘Gorts’ a.k.a ‘GMJG’ was able to sign center David Desharnais, as well as extend Jesper Fast for three years, both at great value. This leaves the Rangers with about $4 Million in cap space after the Kevin Klein retirement and Zibanejad extension. Since there are no hot rumors on how the Rangers plan to address their missing 2nd line center position, let’s take a look at how Alain Vigneault could roll the lines had the season start tonight.
1st Line: Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich
Or the ‘KZB’ as they are referred to in some Ranger fan circles, this line was very efficient when paired together early in the 2016-17 season. After a few games and some injuries Vigneault chose to separate the pair until they were last seen together in the Montreal playoff series. The development of highly-skilled Pavel Buchnevich is very important to the future of the Rangers. It is important that he be comfortable with his line mates this season. In my opinion, there is no better spot to put him than a line he’s had success with previously. Also, little known fact, Chris Kreider speaks fluent Russian, which is very important for communication.
2nd Line: Nash-Hayes-Zuccarello
If Kevin Hayes is going to be thrown into the second center position, it would be wise of Alain Vigneault to pair him with defensively responsible and experienced forwards like that of Zuccarello and Nash. This line has a lot of creativity on it. There is the wizard like passing abilities of Zuccarello, to the pass-first play making of Kevin Hayes. Pair that with Nash’s propensity to take the puck hard to the net, we could see a BIG year for Rick Nash
3rd Line: Vesey-Miller-Grabner
This line will be one to watch because it could struggle due to JT Miller’s poor history at the center position in AV’s system. Similar to the 2nd line, the concept here would be to protect Miller with fast and defensive minded forwards. A year before free agency, this will be a major opportunity for JT Miller to prove he deserves top dollar. If he can prove capable of handling center, this line could go from vulnerability to strength.
4th Line: Jensen-Desharnais- Puempel
(Extra Forward: Boo Nieves)
With Jesper Fast expected to miss the beginning of the season after undergoing hip surgery, the Rangers will be forced to put some pieces together and pray for the best on their 4th line. David Desharnais has proven to be a good faceoff guy and responsible in his zone. Much like Michael Grabner last season, Desharnais was given a “prove it” contract. If he can “prove it” as much as Grabner did last season, he will have been a great signing.