It has been tough being a New York Rangers fan over the past few years but there are signs that the club is finally heading in the right direction.
The Rangers have failed to qualify for the play-offs for the last two seasons, but were in contention to make it in 2019/20 before the suspension of play.
Regardless of the outcome, the club has undoubtedly laid down some solid foundations they can build on in the future.
Panarin ‘gamble’ pays off
Some pundits claimed that the Rangers took a big gamble when they signed Artemi Panarin from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Russian forward has disproved those misguided theories in some style, scoring 32 goals with 63 assists in 69 appearances.
This will be the third successive season he has averaged over a point-per-game, highlighting the ability he possesses.
With Panarin in their ranks, the Rangers’ odds at gg.bet/en/ice-hockey to win the Stanley Cup next season will be shorter than they would be without him.
Strome riding the Panarin wave
Ryan Strome has been a major beneficiary from Panarin’s arrival in New York and he is finally showing the form many people thought him capable of.
He joined the Rangers during the 2018/19 season and ended the campaign with just 33 points in 63 appearances for the club.
However, since being put on a line with Panarin he has bagged 59 points in 70 games and become an important part of the team’s special play units.
With Jesper Fast completing an impressive trio, the Rangers now have a top line that is the envy of many other clubs around the league.
Rookies making their mark
In addition to paying big money for Panarin, the Rangers have also made a big effort to give their batch of promising youngsters a chance this season.
That decision has been vindicated, with the likes of Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren highlighting their potential during the current campaign.
Kakko took a little while to adapt to the NHL after being the top player for TPS in Finland, but there have been signs over the past few months that he is getting to grips with his new role.
Fox and Lindgren have teamed up to great effect on the blueline and look set to be a top defensive pairing for many years to come.
Shesterkin steps into Lundqvist’s shoes
Replacing a future entrant into the NHL Hall of Fame is never easy, but Igor Shesterkin’s early performances for the Rangers have made a mockery of that statement.
Shesterkin was called up from the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack back in January and was tasked with proving he was the man to replace legendary netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
He won 10 of his 12 games between the pipes, posting a .932 save percentage with a 2.52 goals-against average.
The Russian goalie’s form saw him given the starting role on a permanent basis and it is a position he is unlikely to relinquish for the foreseeable future.