If this run with injuries has done anything, it's shown two things:
1) The Rangers have a surprising amount of legitimate depth on both offense, defense and in goal to overcome major injuries without missing much of a beat.
2) Younger forwards who have been forced into the spotlight have proven themselves worthy to be daily players.
Usually you seem teams on one side or the other. Either really good now with very little in terms of youth or prospects later, or very bad now with a plethora of youth and prospects coming tomorrow.
The Rangers, however, are getting the best of both worlds.
Jesper Fast, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes are just three of the promising players in the Rangers' prospect pool making an impact right now. Miller -- since Alain Vigneault has been forced to give him an opportunity with Martin St. Louis injured -- has been a perfect fit on the third line, and since he's been moved up to the top six he hasn't missed a beat. You could probably write a book with all the compliments we've given Hayes in this space, and Fast isn't far behind in that department, either.
All told, the Rangers have three very good, very cheap young players who will help them for years to come. This doesn't even take into consideration players like Brady Skjei, Adam Tambellini and Pavel Buchnevich (who might be making an impact next year) or more familiar names in the AHL like Oscar Lindberg.
The future is not barren, despite the Rangers not having a first round pick for four consecutive years (including next year). Acquiring players like Buchnevich (third round, 2013) and Hayes (NCAA UFA) helps mitigate those lost picks, and should be a feather in Glen Sather's cap since those first round picks that are gone have turned into Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis and Keith Yandle.
Since the Rangers are Stanley Cup contenders this year it doesn't feel fair to turn the scope to next year and how much of an impact the Rangers youth will have on the cheap. But it should be noted the Rangers can expect about 30 goals between Miller and Fast combined, and perhaps some more secondary scoring from a guy like Buchnevich.
Things are pretty negative after the Rangers dropped two consecutive games for the first time since January, so hopefully this makes you all feel a little better. The Rangers have what appears to be a sure-fire stud in Hayes, and two kids who are turning into something nice in Miller and Fast.
That does even include Chris Kreider (turning 24 in April), Derek Stepan (24) and Ryan McDonagh (25) who are all entering their primes and already making a massive impact.
The future is bright.
The present is bright too.