The New York Rangers headed into the offseason after losing their second round playoff match up with the Boston Bruins. Changes were expected, but no one thought that head coach John Tortorella would be relieved of his duties. General manager Glen Sather said that he felt a new voice was needed, and so the Rangers and Vancouver Canucks swapped coaches. Alain Vigneault enters his first year behind the bench with a nice mix of youngsters and veterans and one of the best goaltenders in the world.
New York was relatively quiet in free agency, adding role players like Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore. With Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin both recovering from off season shoulder injuries and likely to start the season on injured reserve, the Rangers will need production from some younger forwards. Oscar Lindberg has impressed recently and could very well earn a spot with the big club. J.T. Miller played long stretches in the NHL last year as well. Perhaps the biggest question mark up front for New York this season will be how well Chris Kreider progresses. With Tortorella no longer around to blame for his shortcomings, the supremely talented winger will need to add important depth of scoring to this hockey club.
Marc Staal's return from an eye injury will be a key on defense for a club that sorely missed him when he was gone last year. Staal says that the injury is behind him, but until we see him return to form on the ice, there's really no way of knowing. Adding him to a stable that includes Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stalman, Dan Girardi, and Michael Del Zotto, gives you one of the best and deepest clubs in the league.
Henrik Lundqvist should be in line for another big year in goal. While some might argue that Tortorella's departure will cause him to have to make even more saves, others would say it should benefit him because he shouldn't be screened as much by his own players.
The Rangers should be a playoff team this year, but they're not going to go anywhere in the postseason if Rick Nash has another postseason run like he did last year. Nash was focused on heavily by the opposition and couldn't shake free to be a difference maker. New York can only hope that it was a learning experience for the big winger moving forward.