Pressure reaching a fever pitch for Broadway Blueshirts


Rangers coach Gerard Gallant speaks to the media prior to their game 7 matchup against the Devils.

Sam Mendlowitz

The New York Rangers had a disappointing end to a terrific season. After a shaky start through the first couple of months, the Blueshirts turned things around. They finished with the seventh best record in team history and reached 100 points for consecutive seasons. But all of that got whipped away after a disappointing playoff exit. After going up 2-0 in the best of seven first round series against the New Jersey Devils, the Rangers dropped four of the last five games. They were shut out in two of them and were a no show in three games. With the team stocking up at the deadline by sending away high draft picks and top prospects for impactful players, there are a lot of questions for this team. What will happen this offseason? Who returns? Who stays? What changes are made and who will be behind the bench next season? With the offseason just beginning, here is what will be going on this summer on Broadway. 

First of all, the biggest question facing the team is whether head coach Gerard Gallant will return for year number three. Through his first two years in New York, he has a 99-46-19 regular season record and is 13-14 in the playoffs. He is the first coach in team history to lead the team to 100 point seasons in each of his first two years. Despite the success, there are a lot of fans and media wanting him to go. The team lost four of the final five games against the Devils, including identical 4-0 losses in game five and seven. They struggled to implement trade deadline acquisitions Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko into the lineup. For many fans, if someone were to pay the price for this disaster, it would be Gallant. So the question is, should Gallant be fired?

The question should be rephrased to, Is there any one better for the job than Gallant? No. Darryl Sutter just left Calgary. They missed the playoffs in two of his three seasons there and many players were fed up with him and his coaching tactics. Peter Laviolette is a good coach, but hasn’t won a playoff series since 2018. Joel Quinniville is the name most linked to the Rangers. Hiring him would be a disaster. Despite winning three Stanley Cups with Chicago and being one of the winningest head coaches in league history, he is still linked to the Kyle Beach scandal. During the 2010 playoff, Beach was sexually assualted by the Blackhawks video coach. Quinniville, who was the team’s head coach at the time, orchestrated a cover up to prevent the story from coming out and distracting the team. Quinniville was forced to resign as the Florida Panthers coach when the story came out and hiring him means they have to get approval for the league. This is also a learning opportunity for the Rangers. They are going to use it as fuel to help them improve and learn lessons. If Gallant leaves, that will hurt them and take away many of the lessons they could learn. “I can’t believe I have to answer some of these questions about me getting fired,” Gallant said at the team’s end of year media availability on May 3.  “If I can’t stand by my record and what I’ve done, I think there’s something wrong.”

Gallant has shown us that he is a spectacular coach and one awful week shouldn’t cost him the job. 

Then, the Rangers half to figure out who are their top six right wingers, a position that has been vacated for much of the past three seasons. There is a 99% chance Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko won’t be back next season. They could break up the “Kid Line” of Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, and Filip Chytil in order to put Lafreniere and Kakko in those wing positions. But then the team would have to find an entirely new third line and bring in wingers to play with Chytil. That would most likely make the third line far worse . The “Kid Line” has been great together and it should stay intact. The best option to fix these issues would be by free agents and prospects.

Brennan Othman was the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft and had a great year last year with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey league and is one of the team’s top prospects. He is a great goal scorer and can complement Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trochek’s playmaking skills on the second line. He can shoot the puck well and often, something Panarin and Trochek don’t do. Will Cuylle may also get called up and could fill in these spots. They can get Phil Kessel, Nick Ritchie, or Denis Gurianov. All of them can shoot the puck very well and have been good goal scorers throughout their career. They are also tough, gritty players which is another one of the Rangers needs. They should resign Tyler Motte and Nikko Mikkola. Alexis Lafreniere and K’andre Miller are restricted free agents. They will most likely stay in New York. Backup goalie Jaroslav Halak may stay or go, but if he leaves, prospect Dylan Garand can take over the backup’s role. Overall, the Rangers are in a good spot. Lots of similar faces and many players are in their prime.