New York Rangers

The New York Rangers are coming off their biggest playoff disappointment in recent memory. For a team that was so close to a Stanley Cup ring just three years ago, it was a crushing blow to the recent direction of the franchise. New general manager Jeff Gorton has made his mark on the team in most respects, but is banking on the older guard to do their part to help the Rangers contend again.

-- Joe Fortunato

THREE QUESTIONS

  1. How much of a difference will rookies like Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich make on a team desperate for a youth infusion?

  2. Will the Rangers' changes up front help both their power play and penalty kill issues that helped sink the team last year?

  3. Will Gorton’s lack of moves to the defense sink the team again this year?


BEST CASE SCENARIO

Dan Girardi bounces back to a level where he can be a serviceable third-pairing defender while Marc Staal finds top-four form. New additions to the forward corps make the Rangers far more effective on offense and bolster both the penalty kill and the power play. In the above scenario, the Rangers could run and gun their way through the playoffs.

WORST CASE SCENARIO

Any injury to either Ryan McDonagh or Henrik Lundqvist. If VIgneault doesn’t dress his best lineup and doesn’t allow the new youth time to develop, it will be much of the same from last year.