2023 team report cards: Rangers star power not enough

New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Rangers went all-in in 2023 with the hopes of taking last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Final and contending for the Stanley Cup. Now, after two weeks of playoff hockey, their season is over.

New York’s first-round matchup against the New Jersey Devils could not have started any better than it did. The Rangers went on the road and stole the first two games, setting themselves up nicely for the remainder of the series.

Unfortunately for them, the Devils won the next three games, then finished off the series in Game 7, sending the Blueshirts packing.

How will this Rangers season be viewed?

The Rangers had a solid regular season, as they were in the top three of the Metropolitan Division for the bulk of the campaign. It became clear early on that last year’s success was no fluke, but that may have been when they got greedy.

At the NHL Trade Deadline, New York made headlines by acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane, among others. Every year, teams go all-in, and more often than not, those teams fail. There is such a thing as doing too much at the deadline, and the Rangers appear to have done that.

The other shortcoming for the Rangers this season was the lack of development of their young players. Filip Chytil deserves some credit, as he began to piece things together this year.

However, Kaapo Kakko (2019 second overall pick) and Alexis Lafreniere (2020 first overall pick) are still not producing. In the regular season, they did not even combine to score at a point-per-game pace, and in the playoffs, they contributed two and zero points, respectively.

There was a lot of talk last postseason about the Kid Line, but the kids have been more of a problem than a solution so far.

In the end, this is a tough season to judge. On one hand, the Rangers are a young team that built on last season by returning to the playoffs. This group should have its best hockey in front of it.

At the same time, they put a lot of eggs into the 2023 basket and came up empty. This team does not feel like it should be desperate enough to adopt the all-in-for-one-year approach, yet that’s what they did, and they did it unsuccessfully.

Overall, the Rangers went 47-22-13 (107 points) this season and lost in the first round of the playoffs, four games to three.

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New York is an exciting team with lots of potential, but it chose the wrong approach this year and it was costly.

The Grade: C+