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2023-24 NHL East Preview: SENS vs NEW YORK RANGERS

Continuing the SWOT Analysis of the Metropolitan division with last year’s THIRD place team, the New York Rangers.


Strengths


The Rangers aren’t defined by their speed, but rather by their size and ability to produce offence on special teams. They finished with the seventh best power play percentage in the league and third in the Eastern Conference.

This is driven, not only by the likes of Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad upfront, but also by one of the best power forwards in the game in Chris Kreider and a former Norris Trophy winning defenseman in Adam Fox.


Igor Shesterkin is an elite netminder who gives them a chance to win every night whether they deserve it or not.


The Senators power play was eighth in the NHL and fourth in the East last season. No alarm bells should sound in this regard.


Weaknesses


With the $11.6 million tied up for the next three seasons in Panarin, $8.5 million in Zibanejad, and $9.5 million in Fox, both for the next six, the Rangers have had to go on the cheap to fill out their lineup and depth would seem to be an issue.


While Shesterkin is an elite netminder, Johnathan Quick is well pest his prime as a backup. He was willing to do it for $800k.


The same could be said for 37-year-old Blake Wheeler and 35-year-old Nick Bonino who both bring a plethora of experience for the bargain basement price of $800k.


The Senators don’t have a Shersterkin. However, they don’t need either of their goalies to play 60 games to be successful. Their tandem of Korpisalo and Forsberg can both log significant time and Mads Sogaard is available in case of injury.


Opportunities


Being right up against the cap (slightly over) and no LTIR pooling available to them, there are no obvious advantages that the Rangers can capitalize on to give themselves an edge.


They continue to wait on number two overall in 2019 Kaapo Kakko and number one overall in 2020 Alexis Lafreniere to fulfill their promise. Short of that, they will continue to rely on their power play and Shesterkin to keep them in games.


Threats


Like the Senators, they will need to improve on their 14th best league penalty kill (7th in the East). The Senators were also right behind them in that category as well.


It’s easier to see how the Senators might improve on that stat with the addition of Jacob Chychrun for the entire season. Due to cap constraints, the Rangers weren’t able to improve themselves by trade or free agency this past offseason. Erik Karlsson landing in Pittsburgh won’t help matters either.


The Rangers boast 11 players aged 30 or more. Their experience could be an advantage. However, in a league where speed kills, they will need to slow other teams down through physical play rather than running and gunning.


This isn’t to suggest that they are too old to win. However, until the cap increases next season, it’s hard to see how they will compete with teams on the upswing like the Devils and the Senators.


The Senators top four with Chabot, Sanderson, Zub and Chychrun should be an advantage over the Rangers with three legit scoring threats and the top four having cost certainty for at least two seasons. While depth in the bottom pair is an issue for the Senators, it is also for the Rangers.

There is an opportunity here for the Senators to supplant the Rangers for a wildcard position.


Prediction: 5TH PLACE METROPOLITAN DIVISION (MISS PLAYOFFS)

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