For the past month or so we've been discussing the possibility of Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan coming to the Rangers to help fix the power play and scoring woes of the New York Rangers. But is there a better solution on the market right now?
A player like Shane Doan.
Here's the reality of the situation when it comes to Doan: He's an older player (35-years-old) who will bring a level of veteran leadership to the table for a team that is infused with a significant amount of youth. Because of his age he's not a long-term solution to the Rangers' scoring issues, but he can be a two-year, quick-fix giving time for players like Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan to continue developing. Doan can chip in 20 goals and 50 points, add to a power play that needs some help and can also contribute on the penalty kill if needed. He had a good playoffs this year (five goals and four assists in 16 games) and - maybe most importantly - wouldn't cost the Rangers any assets.
So let's assume the Rangers sign Doan, here's how next year's lineup would look after the jump.
Doan would have to play on his off wing, which wouldn't be the biggest deal in the world, but would benefit significantly from having Richards and Gaborik on his line. He would have tons of space thanks to Gaborik's speed and intimidation and Doan would have no trouble getting the puck in that space thanks to the elite vision from Brad Richards. You can cycle in Kreider, Callahan, Dubinsky and Hagelin here while Gaborik is out.
Second Line: Ryan Callahan - Derek Stepan - Chris Kreider
The All American line comes back for its second tour, this time during the regular season. Stepan could dish to Kreider (the two connected a few times during the playoffs) and Callahan would be the guy in front of the net finishing off any rebounds. On this line Kreider wouldn't find himself going up against the opposing team's best defenders, which should allow him to find his legs for a full season. Callahan (because of his hustle) and Kreider (because of his speed) would also make this line pretty dangerous in terms of forechecking.
Hagelin gets slotted down a few notches, but he could do a ton of damage on the third line. Add Anisimov and Dubinsky's defense to Hagelin's speed and forechecking and you have a line that can do a little of everything.
Final thoughts: These combinations give the Rangers two legitimate scoring lines, and if Dubinsky can find his offensive game then the Rangers have three legitimate scoring lines. Players like Boyle and Pyatt can move between the third and fourth lines as needed, especially if the third line is used in a shutdown role (which is certainly could be). Also expect to see guys like Boyle and Pyatt find their way on the third line while Gaborik is injured and John Tortorella needs to find a first-line winger.
Pre-Gaborik: Since Gaborik is expected to miss some time at the beginning of the year, Doan would be leaned on a bit more than normal for goal scoring. The risk of this strategy, however, is that the youth (Kreider, Hagelin, Anisimov, Dubinsky, Stepan, etc.) would be leaned on to pick up some of the slack. Remember, if this is the way things shake out, the Rangers top-nine -- or at least the players Tortorella leaned on for scoring -- will be the same with the addition of Kreider and Doan to displace the subtraction of Gaborik. And Richards, who should be more comfortable in the system and with the team, should also get off to a more consistent start. Yes, there are risks here, but it's also a play that keeps the Rangers' youth together, something that will keep them contenders for years to come.
The plus side of this strategy: You make the team better - even if it's marginally better - and keep the youth and assets that have gotten the Rangers to this point together. It allows Kreider, Stepan, Anisimov and Hagelin time to grow and develop for at least another season and it also keeps names like Christian Thomas, J.T. Miller and Tim Erixon away from other teams.