Are the Rangers a Contender?

I'll just start off introducing myself. My name is Jacob, I'm 18 years old and even though I post very little here, I have visited this site nearly every day for the past 2 seasons. I've been a fan since after the 2004 lockout when I could actually understand what was going on.

The thing that scares me about this team is that they're in limbo and they don't even realize it. I don't know how many of you follow basketball, but for those that do, am I wrong to call the Rangers the Atlanta Hawks of hockey? That team makes it to the playoffs every year for 6-7 years now and gets ousted in the 1st or 2nd round every year now. That's what the Rangers are and will be throughout Lundqvist's prime. Let's look at why:

Our top six: Based on the lines in the last couple of playoff games, I'd say our top six is Nash, Stepan, Cally, Hags, Brass, and Kreider. All of them are fun and exciting to watch and have come up big for the Rangers, but can they really be compared to the top six of the remaining 4 teams? Maybe with a more offensive-minded coach and a decent PP, but I still think they're behind those teams remaining.

Our bottom six: We keep saying Rangers need more depth, but the reality is that we need different depth. Guys like Boyle, Pyatt, Haley, Newbury are not players that should be getting any minutes whatsoever on a championship team. Watching other team's 3rd and 4th lines make me sad because they have speed, they have checking ability, and they actually put the puck in the back of net once in awhile.

Our defense: I don't think our defense is as bad as people have been saying lately, and I still have faith in Girardi. However, this team has no puck-moving defensmen. They have no stay-at-home beast( my god, do I miss Sauer). This team had so many mishaps on defense this year we didn't even realize it because of the guy backing them up. Which brings me to...

Our goaltending: The ONLY part of this team that has the makings of a championship team. I love Lundqvist and he is far and away the greatest Ranger I've ever had the pleasure to watch, but his greatness fools us into believing this team is a contender. Take him out and we get a top 10 pick.

Looking at all of these, I really do not think this team is a championship contender. There are too many pieces missing. Maybe one of them is a different system and maybe that system change would be enough to make me eat my own words, but right now I really think it goes far beyond the system.

The final thing I'd like to discuss is our future. We have some nice prospects including Fasth, Lindberg, Miller, Mcilrath, and Skej (I'm not including Kreider). I understand we may be excited, but please let's not overrate them. We do not have a single game-breaker in the system. We do not have an offensive defenseman who can quarterback the powerplay and lead the rush in our prospect pool. Heck, we don't even have a goalie we could try to groom to become Lundqvist's successor. Our prospect pool is among the bottom half of the league and we refuse to focus on stockpiling picks and prospects because we believe we can win a cup in the near future.

Basically, this team is stuck in mediocrity and will be a perennial 1st or 2nd round exit with no shining prospects for the future. Obviously, this is all just my opinion and no matter what I will watch this team every game that I can for the rest of my life. I just really want to see this team make some changes. I'm not a GM so I'm not going to suggest impossible scenarios, but it's sad to see the direction of this team right now.

I'd gladly appreciate all comments and criticisms. Thanks for reading..if you did lol

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