May 25, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan (21) faces off against Boston Bruins forward Chris Kelly (23) in game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

2013-14 NHL Season Preview: The New York Rangers

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The NHL has a new look heading into the 2013-14 season, and as we continue our look around the league we now focus our efforts on the New York Rangers.
Much like the St. Louis Blues, the Rangers have been called heavy favorites to win the cup in recent years, but have failed to have success in the postseason.
This time I spoke with Shawn Taggert of Blue Line Station.  Here is what he had to say about the Rangers:
1. The Rangers were heavy favorites following the 2011-12 season but seemed to drop off a bit in 2013. Do you think New York should still be considered a Cup favorite for the 2013-14 season?
The Rangers should still be considered a cup contender because of the talent that they have. The Roster is thick this year with depth, something that the 2011-12, and 2012-13 teams did not have. The Rangers still have Henrik Lundqvist, and the team will go as far as he wants them to go, and we know how hungry he is. Am I worried that its going to take some time for the team to adjust to new coach Alain Vigneault‘s style? Of course, but I do expect them to still be a very dangerous, high powered team, something that the previous years we did not see. Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, should all prosper with the new style. I’m excited.

May 23, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Boston Bruins right wing Nathan Horton (not pictured) scores on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the second period in game four of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

2. There is a lot of talk about locking up Henrik Lundqvist long term, but there doesn’t seem to be substantial talks moving forward. Do you see the Rangers keeping him or is it possible they move him to clear up salary space while getting a huge return?

The Rangers need Henrik Lundqvist. Does Henrik Lundqvist need the Rangers? Probably not, but the Rangers would be a very different team without him. That being said, it’d be silly for the Rangers not resign him, as they need him for continuous success within the league. If they want to win a Stanley Cup, it starts with him. Am I worried that nothing has been done yet? No – reason being is we have him for the 2013-14 season. Talks will continue throughout the year, he wants to be here, so he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure he stays here. Plus, I hear his wife likes NYC as well. So that plays a huge factor in a players decision. Time will tell, but for now, I’m going to say Henrik will retire a Ranger.
3. There is a new coach in NYC.  Alain Vigneault was a game away from winning a Stanley Cup with the Canucks, will he bring one to New York?
I do think that the difference between the Cancuks and Rangers is their goaltending. Yes, Roberto Louongo is a great goaltender in his own right, but Lundqvist is at another level. I do feel that the Rangers have the pieces need to put together a championship team. The guys are hungry, they were a step away in 2011-12 to get to the finals against a real good Kings team, but I really feel that the Rangers have the players, and the tools to give Vigneault the Stanley Cup.
4. Brad Richards was close to being bought out this offseason, do you think that the team made a good decision to give him one more year? 
From a financial standpoint, no. Reason being they’re fighting for ways to sign Derek Stepan, and to keep them under the cap. The Rangers expect Brad Richards to turn himself around and have a better year. I expect him to do the same as well, and I hope he honestly does. But once again, from a business standpoint, if the buyout does not happen this year, then I really am at a loss for words, because it needs to happen. They need the buyout to happen so they can continue signing their young core, to save some of that money and put it towards Lundqvist’s contract, Callahan’s contract. If they decide to keep him again, a player like Dan Girardi is probably playing his final season in New York. And that’s a shame.

5. Derek Stepan is still an RFA. Is there any worry that the Rangers won’t be able to get a deal done? How would you feel if the team chose to move him?

The worry is the cap space, that’s all. The Rangers will get him signed, and will move around those pieces that aren’t needed will get moved. Is there any thought that I feel he’ll get his rights moved? There’s always that thought but we’d get a return for him. Stepan has turned into a very important piece for the Rangers, so getting rid of him, or not signing him, just like Lundqvist would be silly. He’ll get signed by training camp.
6. What is the view of the St. Louis Blues in the eyes of Rangers fans?
For me the Blues are a very good young team growing and improving year after year. The one thing that scares me is the goalie situation, you have three very good goalies in Halak, Allen and Elliott. One of them are going to need to emerge as the clear cut starter, and I think that Elliott might have that advantage. Sure he started out slow during the 2012-13 campaign, and was hampered by injuries, but his time in 2011-12 was fantastic. And Hitch is such a great coach, I’m not worried about their team, as I think they’re going to slowly become a contender for years to come. A Blues/Rangers Cup Final is really not too far off, and I can see happening soon.

I want to thank Shawn once again for taking the time to answer a few questions for us about the New York Rangers in the upcoming 2013-14 season.  For more information about the Blues, Rangers and every other team in the league, stay tuned to Bleedin’ Blue and follow us on Facebook.

LET’S GO BLUES!

-Alex Hodschayan

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Tags: 2013-13 NHL Season Preview New York Rangers St. Louis Blues

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