Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – New York Rangers
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Along with the Devils, the Rangers made the most improvements to the team this summer. And this goes beyond adding superstar winger Panarin and stud defenseman Trouba. They drafted Kaapo Kakko, who is a future superstar himself. They also have one of the best offensive prospects in the world coming over in Vitali Kravtsov, as well as slick puck-moving defenseman Adam Fox. Those five pieces will inject a lot of goals into this lineup. And before you start worrying about goaltending – prospect Igor Shesterkin is signed and coming to North America. Just give him a year or two of AHL time before he takes over the crease from King Henrik. Alexandar Georgiev is a solid and promising goaltender in his own right, but trust me when I say – he’s no Shesterkin.
Ready for full-time – Kaapo Kakko, as I write this, is dominating the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. Dominating. This is just dirty…
He is head and shoulders above everyone there. Granted, he won’t be allowed to do those moves in the NHL, but he’ll still do a lot of sweet ones and make an immediate impact on the score sheet.
Adam Fox led the nation in points-per-game average among defensemen in the NCAA (48 points, 33 games) and was nominated for th Hobey Baker Award. He was traded to the Rangers earlier in the summer for two high draft picks, and barring an implosion in training camp he should make the team. Between he, Trouba and Tony DeAngelo, the Rangers have three puck-moving defensemen with high upside. Fox is probably third on the totem pole there when it comes to power-play time, but could certainly leapfrog DeAngelo if he outplays him. But I would keep expectations down when it comes to the season ahead. Read more on Adam Fox here.
Vinni Lettieri is 24 years old and he was up and down from the AHL a lot last year. Expect more of the same this year. Despite posting a solid 48 points in 48 games for Hartford (AHL), Lettieri has been unable to establish a foothold with the Rangers. And now, thanks to the influx of forwards joining them, he is probably in for more of the same this year.
Vitali Kravtsov has very high upside and we’ve seem glimpses of it in international play. In the KHL his numbers weren’t eye-popping but keep in mind that he started last season as an 18-year-old. It’s rare for an 18-year-old to be in that league and that was his second year. He still needs to fill out his 6-3 frame and he also could use a bit of adapting to the North American ice. That could mean some AHL time at least for the first half of the season. He was New York’s first-round draft pick last year (ninth overall). Read more on Kravtsov here.
New York Rangers prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Once the Rangers decided to rebuild, they moved quickly and decisively and I like that. Now you see the dividends. It was a very quick turnaround. But the core is still too young and this team will need a full season to gel before talking about the playoffs. But from a fantasy standpoint, we’re gonna love them. Last year the Rangers finished 22nd. I have them projected to rise 10 spots to 12th and an increase of 26 goals. That’s due to Panarin and Kaapo. There are a lot of appealing forwards on this team for fantasy owners, such as Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and breakout candidate Pavel Buchnevich. And the aforementioned three defensemen aren’t too bad either. In net. Lundqvist is a declining fantasy asset, but Georgiev shows promise and Shesterkin is going to be a star. The prospect pipeline is very strong, though if all the notable names make the jump this year they will need to replenish the farm system.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was C-)
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2019 Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades