Who Will Be the Best Team in New York Next Season?
The Rangers and Islanders have had interesting off-seasons so far. Both offered Artemi Panarin long-term deals and the Blueshirts won the Panarin sweepstakes. How do each of these teams stack up heading into the 2019-20 NHL season?
The Rangers made the biggest move of the NHL offseason when they signed Artemi Panarin to a seven-year, $81.5 million deal on July 1st. Reports were that Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello offered Panarin over $12 million to no avail. Now Rangers head coach David Quinn can pencil in Panarin on the first line with Mika Zibanejad, who had career highs in all offensive categories last year.
How the Rangers Stack Up
One debate going on in Ranger town is, who should play on Zib’s right wing? Should it be Pavel Buchnevich or Vitali Kravtsov? Buchnevich might increase his chances if he comes into camp in the best shape of his life. If Buchnevich can skate with those two and work on his playmaking skills than he has a good shot. Great reports have come from Rangers development camp on the rookie Vitali Kravstov. At 6’3, the 19-year-old is as big as Chris Kreider and who knows maybe he can learn a thing or two from Kreider. Kravstov could become yet another talented forward that Coach Quinn will have at his disposal come training camp.
How the Islanders Stack Up
The Islanders missed catching a big free agent fish when the Rangers reeled in Artemi Panarin on July 1st. However, do not underestimate Lou Lamoriello’s persuasive skills. I would not be surprised if he has a trade for a defenseman in mind. Also, Lou could pursue a few free agent defensemen still available like Joel Edmundson who has played recent years for the Stanley-cup winning St. Louis Blues.
The Islanders came in first in the NHL in goals-allowed (191) last season. Masterton trophy-winning goaltender Robin Lehner was a huge reason why the Islanders kept the puck out of the net. Nevertheless, the Islanders could not reach a new deal to keep the comeback player of the year on their team. Surely, Islanders fans were left scratching their heads.
Lamoriello wasted no time in signing free agent goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov played the last two seasons in Colorado and, early in his career, the 31-year-old played for the Washington Capitals against teams like the Rangers and the Devils.
The Islanders definitely want to keep the Rangers from finding another good free agent before they do. Fool Lou once, shame on you, fool Lou twice, shame on Lou. Lamoriello must be thinking about how he can sign a good free agent forward before the Rangers do, to keep up with the Rangers for the rest of this off-season.
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