Yes, it’s the most magical time of the year for hockey fans and I’m not talking about the Stanley Cup finals. We haven’t gotten that far in the season and as the shades of spring start moving in (along with Major League Baseball reminding us warmer days are eventually ahead), the NHL trade deadline ended just moments before I began writing this article. OK Rangers fans, the trade deadline has come and gone. Now what?
The now and what is that the money spent, drama created, anxiety built up and emotions coming to the forefront means that the New York Rangers have amassed one heck of a organization to go after the Stanley Cup this season. With all of the craziness and human drama built up these past couple of months, the Rangers better put on a good showing because quite honestly, the fans deserve it.
As the dust settles . . .
The New York Rangers have been arguably the most successful NHL franchise before the trade deadline. Leave it to GM Chris Drury to develop a game plan and stick to that plan. The Blueshirts already welcomed Vladmir Tarasenko and Nikko Mikkola to Madison Square Garden. Welcome back Tyler Motte, it seems like you were just here but glad you’re back, we just hope you heal up quickly after the hit on Thursday night. The biggest drama of all this trade deadline finally reached its apex this week with the Rangers signing future Hall of Famer Patrick Kane and handing out a blue sweater to Kane had to be both iconic and ironic at the same time.
Many sports legends finished up with other teams in the twilight of their careers: think of Joe Montana in a Kansas City Chiefs’ uniform; picture Babe Ruth finishing up wearing not Yankee pinstripes but wearing a jersey with the Boston Braves on the front; heck, even Tom Brady finished up far away from New England (but still got another Super Bowl ring with Tampa Bay . . .) My point is that Patrick Kane will need time to adjust to a new team and a new organization. Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier are still living legends in Edmonton but both went on to win the Stanley Cup with other teams – including Messier with the Rangers’ last Cup win in 1994.
We can sit and analyze how the Rangers are going to win the Stanley Cup and then don’t show any patience when this new team (and with the recent additions/subtractions, the Rangers are essentially a new team right now) doesn’t go out and win the rest of the season outright. Teams are built on chemistry and trust and these qualities don’t come overnight. However, the new-look Blueshirts certainly have a lot of talent going for them so many pundits are betting the farm on the Rangers to hoise Lord Stanley’s cup this June. I;m not going that far right now – yes, they’ll make the playoffs and may go deep but I’m already thinking about how great this time will be in 2023-24 if they stay healthy and together.
Time is needed to assess what and where to make adjustments. The Rangers’ first power play unit has already been juggled around by moving Kane to the right, Mika Zibanejad in the middle and Artemia Panarin on the left. Tarasenko has already been moved to the second power play unit and bumped Alexis Lafreniere off of that special teams unit altogether. Rangers’ fans can expect more changes to come in the days around to build the right composition with the right players at the right time. With all of the money the Rangers are spending, they better get it right.