After sending out a letter, telling fans that the team intends to rebuild last February, the New York Rangers rebuilding project is well underway, but The Athletic’s Shayna Goldman (subscription required) writes that there is one problem the team has — they aren’t losing enough.
One key aspect of a rebuilding team is to pick up top prospects and the best way to do that is through the entry draft. However, with the team’s 21-20-7 record this season under new head coach David Quinn, their 49 points would give them the 22nd best record in the league, which would not give them a chance at super prospects Jack Hughes or Kappo Kakko next season. While there is never a guarantee to picking up a top pick due to the draft lottery, had the team just five points fewer, 44 points would have put them 30th.
Of course, if New York trades off more players at the deadline such as Kevin Hayes or Chris Kreider, the team may continue to drop in the standings and improve their chances at a top pick. However, it could have a negative effect on the team’s environment that Quinn has developed this season.
- Andrew Gross of Newsday writes that despite the layoff, neither defenseman Thomas Hickey and winger Andrew Ladd of the New York Islanders have a timetable to return and remain on injured reserve. Hickey, who has been out with an upper-body injury since Dec. 17, could be out for some time as head coach Barry Trotz said the defenseman will need four or five practices before being able to play, which could mean he may not be back into the lineup until mid to late February. Ladd, who has been out with a lower-body injury and has been out since Nov. 15, and also may not be back until late February.
- NJ.com’s Chris Ryan analyzes the New Jersey Devils’ roster, looking at what players should stay and go and while even a few months ago, goaltender Keith Kinkaid was considered to be a key piece to the Devils’ success after proving last year that he can handle the full-time job well, it’s likely time to move on from the 29-year-old, who has struggled quite a bit of late. Kinkaid, who is in the final year of a two-year, $2.5MM deal he signed in 2017, has struggled this year with a 13-14-6 record, a 3.10 GAA and a .899 save percentage. Throw in the fact that MacKenzie Blackwood looks like the team’s long-term starter and the fact that the team can’t move Cory Schneider due to his lengthy and expensive contract and Kinkaid is likely to be looking for a new team this summer.
- The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor (subscription required) answers mailbag questions, pointing out that the Philadelphia Flyers are likely to bring up more prospects over the next several months. The team will likely recall defenseman Philippe Myers at some point this season. O’Connor writes that Myers has been playing impressive hockey with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL for the past two months and looks to be a player ready to take over a spot on Philadelphia’s defense next season. To ensure that, the Flyers will need to bring him up and give him some playing time this season.