The days of the New York Rangers being a dominant force in the hotly contested Metropolitan Division are probably bound for a brief hiatus. Heck, the Rangers’ days as the kings of NYC hockey are probably over. Age and a lack of wiggle room under the cap have been at the forefront of a transitional period for the Blueshirts that could potentially cause the 2016-17 season to be one of disappointment.
Henrik Lundqvist, the cornerstone of the franchise and the goaltender laureate of many a season in Manhattan, is aging and regressing. He’s coming off a season in which he posted a 2.48 goals-against average – the highest of his magnificent career. Furthermore, those cap issues forced the team to let slick defenseman and power-play mainstay Keith Yandle walk, er, skate.
The power play took a double hit as last season’s top goal scorer, Derick Brassard, will also don new duds this season after being dealt to the Ottawa Senators for the oft-thrilling yet oft-infuriating Mika Zibanejad.
OK, the roster still showcases some excellent talent including Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider, but it’s not enough to convince me that this team can hang with the likes of the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders or Washington Capitals – and that’s just within their own division!
Here’s a look at where the Rangers stand as far as the futures board is concerned.
Stanley Cup +2500
The Rangers got to the postseason by finishing third in the Metro with 101 points but were quickly dispatched by the Penguins in five games in the Sportsbook round. The penalty-killing unit, which really was the team’s Achilles heel last year, was laughable at best in the series, killing just 61.9 percent of their penalties.
You play hockey like that, you get eliminated in five games. What have they done to address those special teams needs? Well, not a whole lot. At +2500 at online book Sportsbook, the price will fetch some action from diehards, but this bet is a stay-away at this point. Maybe King Henrik regains a bit of that great form and maybe the team makes some moves prior to the deadline, but until then, do not touch.
Eastern Conference +1200
The Rangers have just two conference championships in their history (1993-94, 2013-14) and considering the teams above them and around them in the current NHL climate, they’ll have a tough time winning the East this year.
The Penguins will be back and firing on all cylinders and the Caps will be hungry to avenge a disappointing playoff run last year, just to name a couple, let alone bring up the Atlantic Division.
The +1200 price is currently not long enough to warrant a wager on the Rangers in this spot.
Metropolitan Division +600
At this price? No thank you.
The Metropolitan is turning into a poor man’s version of the insanely deep Central. The aforementioned Pens, Caps and Isles will be fighting for the division glory while teams like the Philadelphia Flyers will be nipping at their heels and teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets are in line to surprise.
Season Points OVER/UNDER 95.5
OK. So this one might not be too out of the realm of possibility. The Blueshirts finished with 101 points and have eclipsed the 95.5 barrier in each season since 2011-12, save for the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
A high-90s total doesn’t mean you’re winning the division; it more so means you’re in a dogfight to sneak into the postseason, which is where the Rangers might be this season. If you believe NYR is postseason-bound, this is potentially your safest wager on the futures board.
Odds as of October 6 at Sportsbook