Eastern preview: Rangers begin post-Torts era

Eastern preview: Rangers begin post-Torts era
September 5, 2013, 9:45 am

NEW YORK RANGERS

2012-13: 26-18-4, 56 points

Where they finished: 2nd in the Atlantic; 6th in the East; 12th in the NHL

Coach: Alain Vigneault (1st season)

Key additions: LW Benoit Pouliot, C Dominic Moore, RW Danny Kristo, D Justin Faulk, D Aaron Johnson, D Danny Syvret

Key subtractions: LW Ryane Clowe, C Kris Newbury, RW Christian Thomas, D Matt Gilroy

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Carl Hagelin – Brad Richards – Rick Nash

Mats Zuccarello – Derek Stepan – Ryan Callahan

Chris Kreider – Derick Brassard – Derek Dorsett

Benoit Pouliot – Brian Boyle – Taylor Pyatt

Defense

Dan Girardi – Marc Staal

Michael Del Zotto – Ryan McDonagh

John Moore – Anton Stralman

Goaltenders

Henrik Lundqvist – Martin Biron

Our take: Despite a strong finish last season the Rangers struggled to get past the Capitals in the first round of the playoffs and didn’t put up much of a fight against the Bruins in Round 2. Exit coach John Tortorella and enter Alain Vigneault, who replaced each other in Vancouver and New York.

Unlike Tortorella, who favored a collapsing, shot-blocking system, Vigneault likes to push the pace and that should benefit Brad Richards, Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin. In Vancouver Vigneault's teams were among the highest scoring in the NHL and in his seven seasons with the Canucks he never experienced a losing season.

The Rangers will miss the size and grittiness of Ryane Clowe, but they added an equally gritty Dominic Moore to the mix. Outside of that, the Rangers are pretty much the same club that finished second in the Atlantic last season, anchored by a solid top four defense and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The 31-year-old Swede led the NHL with 24 wins last season but has gotten the Rangers to the Conference Finals just once in seven years between the pipes.

Offseason Grade:  C

Will they make the playoffs in 2013-14:  Yes.