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Rangers Radar: Zibanejad’s big year

Checking in on some Rangers prospects and reflecting on performances from the final stretch of the 2018-19 season

New York Rangers v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

It’s time for another installment of Blueshirt Banter’s Rangers Radar, where we put the spotlight on trends in performance and production and collect notes on players on the New York Rangers and the Hartford Wolf Pack, as well as Rangers prospects playing elsewhere.

Note: This will be the final Rangers Radar of the 2018-19 season, but we will likely have another one to cover the performance of Rangers players active in the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

New York Rangers

  • Pavel Buchnevich scored nine goals and notched six assists in the first 32 games of the season; he scored 12 goals and notched 11 assists in his last 32 games of the season. His 0.82 5v5 G/60 was second only to Kreider this year among Rangers skaters who appeared in more than 10 games.
  • Forward Ryan Strome was the Rangers leading scorer in the months of March and April with nine goals — two of which were scored in overtime — and five assists in his final 19 games. The only other Ranger to score an overtime goal this year was Brady Skjei.
  • Center Mika Zibanejad finished the 2018-19 regular season with 74 points (30 goals, 44 assists) in 82 games. That’s the highest point total for a Ranger since Marian Gaborik picked up 76 points in the 2011-12 season.
  • Zibanejad finished fourth in the league in hit posts and crossbars this season with 12. Patrik Laine and Connor McDavid led the league by hitting the iron 15 times each.
  • Zibanejad is just the 12th player to score 30 goals in a season for the Rangers after the team won the Stanley Cup in 1994. He’s also just the 15th Ranger to pick up 70 or more points in that window.
  • Forward and defenseman Brendan Smith scored two of his four goals this year in the final nine games of the season. Smith finished the season with 15:18 TOI/GP — the lowest average ice time of his career.
  • Deadline day acquisition Brendan Lemieux finished the season with one point — a goal against the Penguins on Mar. 25 — in his final 12 games of the season. Lemieux had 12 shots and 26 hits in that window.
  • Chris Kreider scored two goals in his last 17 games of the season; he had 22 goals in his first 48 games of the year. Kreider fell just one point shy of tying his previous single-season high of 52 points, which he set in 2016-17. Kreider led the Rangers in 5v5 goals this year with 19.

Hartford Wolf Pack

  • The Wolf Pack will wrap up their 2018-19 regular season with three games in three days starting with Friday’s 7:15 p.m. home game against the Hershey Bears. They are currently 29-34-10.
  • Hartford was shut out for the fourth time this season last Saturday when the Utica Comets defeated them 4-0.
  • Recent college free agent signing Jake Elmer (undrafted) picked up his first pro point on Sunday in Hartford’s 6-0 rout over the Binghamton Devils. Elmer’s point was a secondary assist on the fifth goal of the game, scored by Nick Jones. He had four shots — which led the team — and a minor penalty in his AHL debut on April 6 against Utica.
  • Ryan Gropp (41st overall, 2015 Draft) had a three-point game for the Wolf Pack against Binghamton. Gropp picked up a primary assist and scored an empty-net goal against the Devils in that game and is now up to 26 points in 60 games.
  • Center Steven Fogarty (72nd overall, 2011 Draft) also had a big game against Binghamton. He earned his fifth multi-goal game of the year and is now up to 21 goals this year. Fogarty had 16 goals in the previous two seasons combined, so he’s definitely found his scoring touch this year in Hartford.
  • It’s worth noting that Fogarty is shooting 18.9 percent (all situations) this season. He ranks ninth in the AHL in shooting percentage among skaters who have played at least 60 games this year.
  • Forward Vinni Lettieri (undrafted) had a primary assist and four shots in his first game back in Hartford in nearly a month. He is now up to 34 primary points in 45 games this year with the Wolf Pack.

Other Rangers Prospects

  • Defenseman Joey Keane (88th overall, 2018 Draft) had two assists, seven shots on goal, and one minor penalty in the first three games of the London Knight’s series against the Guelph Storm.
  • Calle Själin (145th overall, 2017 Draft) averaged 18:43 TOI/GP in 20 GP for Leksands in Allsvenskan this year. Själin had two goals and five assists for Leksands. He and his club will be playing in the SHL next season. He’s signed with Leksands through the next two seasons.
  • In eight playoff games with the Oshawa Generals so far, Nico Gross (101st overall, 2018 Draft) has one assist, 10 PIM, and four shots on goal. He had 20 points in 56 games in the regular season.
  • Jakob Ragnarsson (70th overall, 2018 Draft) and Almtuna IS are currently battling to stay in Allsvenskan and avoid relegation. After notching six points — all of which were assists — in 37 regular season games, Ragnarsson has picked up two points, six PIM, and two shots in eight games thus far in Kvalserien till HockeyAllsvenskan.

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