New York Rangers Sneakily Get Better, Are Built for Playoffs

Hector Urica/InsideTheRink

Compared to others in the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers had a relatively quiet 2024 trade deadline. The additions of Alex Wennberg, Jack Roslovic, and Chad Ruhwedel filled some widely publicized gaps in the lineup but did not register on the excitement meter like some of the rumored trades would have. They were rumored to be in the mix for Jake Guentzel, who ended up making a big splash as the centerpiece of the Carolina Hurricanes deadline spree.

For the Rangers, this is the third trade deadline in the Chris Drury era, with mixed results in the two prior deadlines. At the 2022 deadline, Frank Vatrano, Tyler Motte, Andrew Copp, and Justin Braun filled the right holes and helped the team get to the Eastern Conference Finals. In 2023, the addition of Vladamir Tarasenko, Patrick Kane, and Niko Mikkola had star power but ultimately led to a disappointing first-round exit against the New Jersey Devils.

Media grades for the Rangers 2024 deadline work have been middle-of-the-road so far, but the only result that matters is still months away. For now, the Rangers’ new acquisitions will try and fit in on a team that has been playing well and has a close-knit locker room. If the result of Saturday night’s contest against the St. Louis Blues is any indication, that process is already well underway. Two of the three new Rangers played, with Alex Wennberg tallying his first point as a Ranger (an assist on the third power-play goal of the night scored by Kappo Kakko), and Roslovic didn’t look out of place playing with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.  

With the trade deadline additions and the improving play of rookie Matt Rempe, the Rangers are a team that can give opponents fits in a seven-game series. Imagine having to retrieve pucks against the Rempe, Goodrow, Vesey line one shift, cover Kakko, Wennberg, and Cuylle in front of the net and in the corners on another, and keep up with the Panarin, Trocheck, Lafreniere line in the same game. That doesn’t even account for the Zibanejad, Kreider, Roslovic line, or special teams. This team has the size and skill needed to make a long playoff run.

Just as importantly, they appear to genuinely like playing with each other and have bought into coach Peter Laviolette’s system. The latter was not true a year ago when they were often outcoached, and some of the most talented players were clearly not all in on coach Gerard Gallant’s system. Given the additions of role players rather than superstars at the deadline, it should be easier to maintain team chemistry, an added bonus.

There are concerns, however, including the recent play of Mika Zibanejad, particularly at five on five where he has one goal since December. Clearly GM Chris Drury and Coach Laviolette are hoping that the addition of Jack Roslovic on the right side will provide a needed spark for that line. The injury to Jacob Trouba is another concern. The Captain’s numbers are not sterling either, but he is the emotional leader of the team and a huge physical presence, so having him healthy in time for the playoffs will help.

It is always difficult to know what to expect of the Rangers at the deadline. GM Chris Drury has proved himself willing to be active in a number of different ways, but he plays his cards close to the vest, which keeps fans and media members guessing. While time will be the judge, it is hard not to like the moves he made this year and the way the team played collectively on Saturday night. The Rangers seem primed for a playoff run in a wide-open conference. Other teams may have done more, but that isn’t always the best measuring stick for playoff success. Now, it is up to the full complement of Rangers to deliver. If they do, the sky is the limit for this team.

ECF Game 1 Recap : Flukes & Lacking Production Ranting Rangers: A New York Rangers Podcast

In this playoff episode we recap the Rangers loss in Game 1 of the ECF.For more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. ECF Game 1 Recap : Flukes & Lacking Production
  2. Guest Colin Stephenson : ECF Preview
  3. Cry-der
  4. 7-1 Stay Cuylle, We're Fine
  5. 2-0 Series Lead!!! : Trocheck 2OT Hero

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