It’s been over two months since the NHL held their draft lottery and the ping pong balls bounced in the New York Rangers’ favor landing them the 2nd overall pick in the draft.
Since then, the hype train has been picking up speed to the point where I’m not even sure if the thing is on the rails anymore. And you know what? That’s fine.
This has been an unprecedented month and a half of off-ice success for the Rangers. They won the draft lottery, traded for Adam Fox’s rights, signed him, traded for Jacob Trouba, and removed a problem on the defense in the process. The Rangers suddenly boast a nice young core of defenseman, and that’s not even including the higher-end prospects they have sitting in their system. Overall, it’s been a pretty positive turn in that department.
Kakko is the biggest name there, though. And I suppose it’s worth saying right now that it could be Jack Hughes as well, and that would be just as good if not better. The Rangers are getting a franchise changing prospect, someone who will be stepping into the opening night roster along with Vitali Kravtsov and Adam Fox. Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, Tony DeAngelo, and Brett Howden will all have another year of NHL hockey under their belts and we can expect growth there. Guys like Pavel Buchnevich and Brady Skjei should have better seasons as well for their continued growth curves. David Quinn hopefully learned some lessons of his own in his first year of coaching. There’s reasons to be optimistic.
But the building truly starts now. And if you’re reading this article when it’s published, we’re hours away from the Rangers getting their piece, that franchise changer who is five years away from his prime, and ready to step in right away. I would caution you from garnering enormous expectations from day one, but I will say that Kakko putting 40 points up next year isn’t a wildly unrealistic expectation. (Note: that doesn’t mean lambaste the kid if he doesn’t get there.)
A lot of it is possible because the Rangers know they’re walking away from the draft with a “sure thing.” The Trouba trade is an enormous step forward for the rebuild, but winning the draft lottery is what actually lifted the wheels of the plane off the runway. The Rangers might not be airborne yet, but they’re damn close.
Pieces are still moving to see how fast that takeoff will officially happen.
Elliotte Friedman believes the Rangers and Colorado are talking Chris Kreider, and I had heard from a separate source the two teams have been in conversation for a couple of days now — although I was told about a smaller-scale discussions there.
Friedman on NHLN saying Colorado has a strong interest in Chris Kreider.— Evan Rawal (@evanrawal) June 20, 2019
Jimmy Vesey’s name has been thrown around (linked officially to Buffalo), and it appears there will be some level of discussions about Kevin Shattenkirk. The Rangers have work to do internally with their re-signings, but the team should have no major hurdles there at all aside from finalizing numbers with Trouba.
More optimistically, the Rangers feasted on a non-analytic team for Trouba. When was the last time you could say the Rangers did that? The podcast released 10 minutes after the trade went down is one of the most listened to shows we’ve recorded on Vox and it’s less than a week old. Has another move elicited such an immediate celebration in recent memory? Even the Mika Zibanejad trade had pangs of regret attached over losing Derick Brassard even if most acknowledged it was the right thing to do.
John Davidson might be inheriting the forward momentum from the few weeks before he was hired, but based off everything he’s said there’s even more reasons to be excited about his hire. He’s adding staff to make sure prospects within the organization are tracked and feel part of the fabric of the team from the moment they’re drafted.
He recognizes the need to invest more in analytics and scouting, and soon will turn focus to a Hartford Wolf Pack team that has a head coaching vacancy. It’s all happening, and it’s all happening now.
We can worry about the other stuff later. For tonight it’s a celebration.
It’s Kakko time, guys.