Rangers have a 23-man roster and a leadership group headed for their opening night game against Lightning on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
There were no surprises for the team that returned 16 of the 23 players they started with last season. Although the maximum space of $183,531 that Rangers will carry per season will likely be difficult to work under at a later date — February 20, 2023, the NHL trade deadline, to be exact — team management appears to have a clear idea of what it is. . He wanted the lineup to look like when it came to employee decisions.
When you finish among the top four teams in the NHL the previous season and hold the majority of the roster, the decisions shouldn’t be too complicated. But the expectations that come with that can be complex.
“It was easy last year when nobody expected anything from you and you rally around this, it’s easy to get up when teams say the other team is going to beat you and everything like that,” defender Adam Fox said Monday. “So now you have a little bit of an expectation – shoot it a goal on your back – I think that obviously builds a little bit of motivation as well. You want to be able to prove that last year was no accident and that we have the team to do that and get to that point.
“I think we’re a hungry group, we’re young and I think we want to get back to where we were last year.”
Even if there is some deliberation required when deciding whether To give Jimmy Visey a contract After his pro experience or if Zach Jones was ready to step into the sixth defensive role, the Rangers had a decision when it came to who would serve as the replacement captain. The team paid tribute to the leadership group last season – Jacob Tropa, Mika Zipanjad, Chris Kreider, Artemi Banarin, Ryan Strom and Barkley Goudreau – so it didn’t make sense for the players still with the club to keep their messages.
Zipanegad, Kreider, Banarin and Guudreau will claim the ‘A’ title again this season, with Trouba winning promotion to captain this season. Of course, Strom is no longer a ranger after leaving in free agency to the ducks.
“It was a good group and it was tough,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said after training in Tarrytown. “There are a lot of guys knocking on the door for these roles. I think last year we had a great group and why would I change it and keep it away from these guys? They are good people, they have done a good job.”
The cliched phrase, “Why fix what isn’t broken?” It certainly applies here. For a team that hasn’t had a captain since 2018, when Ryan McDonagh wore a “C,” Rangers now have a lineup of captains who are all under contract for the foreseeable future. The group did a phenomenal job rallying the team throughout the 2021-22 regular season and playoffs, when Rangers completed two series to reach the Eastern Conference Final.
The new challenge for the four substitute captains and Trouba is not to push the team to prove people wrong, but to boost the team’s confidence in order to attack the lofty expectations it faces this season.
“I think it’s just a fantastic leadership group overall,” said Fox, who would probably be ready to get a speech himself if not for the return of five of the six substitute captains from last season. “The message is a message. It’s obviously a privilege for these guys, but I think they did a good job of just incorporating everyone. It wasn’t six times and then everyone else just became another player on the team.
“I think it’s a complete team effort and they’ve done a great job of letting everyone express their opinions. It wasn’t just these individuals doing everything.”