Believe it or not, the 2020-21 New York Rangers season starts tomorrow.
That means it’s time for Blueshirt Banter’s staff to make some bold (and not so bold) predictions about the Rangers and the 2020-21 season. We asked members of BSB’s staff to weigh in on a few questions posed by Mike and Tom and they provided their two cents. So, all told, the shooting-from-the-hip analysis you will find here is worth at least, like, 16 cents.
Let’s jump right into it. Here is your roundtable season preview.
Over/Under 20 games played for Jack Johnson?
- Over: Everyone
- Under: Nobody
This question really could have been phrased as, “Will Jack Johnson be the team’s seventh defenseman and/or a mainstay on the taxi squad or not?” It looks like most of us expect him to be much more than a blip in the lineup this year. Oh boy.
Over/Under 38 starts for Igor Shesterkin?
- Over: Mike, Joe, Kevin, Brianna
- Under: Adam, Tom, Shayna, Matt, Bryan
Just how many games will Igor Shesterkin start? The Rangers have a more-than-capable backup/1B in Alexandar Georgiev but we all know the goal crease belongs to Igor. Will the Rangers coaching staff split the starts more than they might in an 82-game season because of the compressed schedule? How much hockey is too much for Igor?
Who Wins the Calder?
- Alexis Lafrenière: Joe, Tom, Brianna, Bryan
- Kirill Kaprizov: Shayna, Adam, Kevin, Mike
- Igor Shesterkin: Matt
The Lafrenière hype is real but Kaprizov is five years older than the top pick of the 2020 Draft. Furthermore, Kaprizov established himself as a star in the KHL. He scored 33 goals and notched 29 assists in 57 games last year. That was good for third in the league in scoring. That is some stiff competition for any teenager.
Are the Rangers a playoff team?
- Yes: Brianna, Matt
- No: Tom, Shayna, Kevin, Adam
- Maybe (cowards): Mike, Joe, Bryan
Bottom line: this is not a fun division to be in for the Rangers. It will be tough sledding for the Blueshirts to make it into the playoffs in a division with the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals. Only the top four teams from this division will be going to the playoffs.
- Artemiy Panarin: Everyone not named Kevin
- Adam Fox: Kevin
Kevin’s a madman. That’s it. That’s all I really have to say.
Does Adam Fox lead the D in scoring?
- Yes: Joe, Tom, Kevin, Brianna, Matt, Bryan
- No: Mike, Adam, Shayna
Fox had 42 points in 70 games in his rookie season last year. DeAngelo led the blue line with 53 points in 68 games. In Tom’s case, he considered Fox’s performance in the context of Calder finalists Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes, and how the lack of power play time held the rookie rearguard back.
I feel like if Fox had as much PP TOI per game as Hughes/Makar he would have been able to close the points gap. Nonetheless, a great rookie year for Fox. https://t.co/rfCq2LqUZJ pic.twitter.com/tPh9zJD0Si— Tom Urtz Jr. (@TomUrtzJr) June 8, 2020
Over/Under 25 games played for K’Andre Miller?
- Over: Joe, Mike, Shayna, Bryan
- Under: Tom, Adam, Kevin, Brianna, Matt
It’s worth noting that most of Banter’s staff submitted their answers for the roundtable before training camp truly got underway. Still, 25 games would mean that Miller appears in just under half of the Rangers’ 2020-21 regular season scheduled contests. Remember, he turns 21 on Jan. 21.
Over/Under 25 goals for Mika Zibanejad?
- Over: Joe, Mike, Shayna, Brianna, Bryan
- Under: Tom, Adam, Matt
- Push: Kevin
Again, these predictions were made before training camp got underway. Zibanejad had 41 goals in 57 games last season and 30 goals in 80 games in the 2018-19 season.
Over/Under 40 points for Tony DeAngelo?
- Over: Nobody
- Under: Everybody
DeAngelo had 53 points in 68 games last season but no one on staff sees him cracking 40 points this year. Cue people saying we’re all biased in the comments section.
But on a more serious note, Fox averaged 1:59 a game on the power play last year and picked up 13 points. DeAngelo was at 3:05 a game, and finished with 19 points. Now that Fox is more of a known commodity, there’s a good chance he’s given more of an opportunity and picks up even more points cutting into opportunities DeAngelo otherwise would have gotten.
Last year was a career year for Tony D in which his 0.78 points per game average was 0.29 higher than the year prior. If he were to maintain last year’s pace, he would finish with 43 points. The slightest bit of regression, and he slips under that mark.
Over/Under 35 points for Alexis Lafrenière?
- Over: Joe, Mike, Kevin, Matt, Bryan
- Under: Adam, Shayna, Brianna
- Push: Tom
The highest-scoring season by a rookie NHL skater in recent memory came in 2017-18 from Mathew Barzal. He piled up 85 points in his rookie season in 82 games.