Listed below are the players, in my opinion that should be watched closely
this season. Some have a lot of pressure on them to produce, while others just
need to be solid. This is only my opinion. I may have left some other important
players off the list. It doesn't mean there's no pressure on them necessarily.
After he was traded to the Rangers on the trade deadline last spring, Carter
looked lost on the ice during most games. I only saw flashes of the player I saw
on the Edmonton Oilers. I don't buy the excuse that he has to get used to a new
conference only because he played several seasons for the Boston Bruins. It
might take some time to readjust but I don't see that as an excuse to not
produce. I expect 20-25 goals this season. Anything less will be a
So far, I haven't talked to a Rangers fan who has hated this acquisition,
and rightfully so. DeVries should add a presence to the blue line and being
paired with Poti will help both of them play their respective games. The
Leetch/Poti pairing of last season was scary to watch. However, try not to
expect too much from the guy as far as offensive production is concerned. It
seems that a lot of Rangers fans expect a defenseman to score, score, score but
all successful teams have a couple of "stay at home" variety
defenseman. If you're expecting him to put up even 30-40 points this year, then
you'll be disappointed.
Dunham's play with the Rangers was exceptional. There's nothing else more to
say what hasn't been said already. The ultimate test will too see if he can
handle a heavy workload. Chances are he will get anywhere from 60-65 starts in.
My only worry is the groin pulls. This has been a problem for Mike since his
days in Nashville and I'd hate to see him miss some starts down the stretch
because of this nagging injury.
I must admit that this is the first time in years than I've been happy with
both the starting and backup goaltenders of the Rangers. Glen Sather did a great
job getting this guy for practically nothing on the eve of free agency. I think
this was Sather's best acquisition this summer. He will definitely bring some
stability to the goaltending while Blackburn gets the playing time he needs.
Unfortunately for him, the damage to the nerves in his shoulder will keep him on
the shelf for quite some time.
After the trade…err…salary dump by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kovalev
returned to form once putting on the Rangers jersey again. When I say return to
form, I mean the same Alexei that wore the Rangers jersey from 1992-1998, and
that's not a good thing. We often saw the frustration that caused Neil Smith to
trade him away for Petr Nedved. Despite his blunders and for the most part, his
ineffectiveness following the salary dump, Kovalev is still one of the most
skilled players in the game. He can change the course of a game with one play, a
game-breaker if you will. Barring injury, look for him to lead the Rangers in
both goals and points this season.
Now we've come to everyone's favorite Ranger. (heavy on the sarcasm) Last
season was Lindros' worst season of his career, bar none. For the first time in
his career, he was not a point-per-game player during the season scoring only 19
goals all year, only one more than Mark Messier. While Lindros has looked good
in the preseason, it is only preseason. I want to see him mess with guys that
aren't the likes of Tyler Wright. If he plays the way he has so far, and puts up
the points, he will be back on the good side of the Ranger faithful.
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