Who Reigns Supreme in the Big Apple? By Josh Fromowitz
The Rangers, The Devils, The Islanders. The 3 teams from the New York/New Jersey area. Because of COVID and travel restrictions, each team will only play their divisional rivals, causing a realignment among the divisions. In these divisions, they will play each team 8 times, making up the 56 game schedule. In addition to the Rangers, Islanders and Devils, the other teams in the new Eastern Division are the Bruins, Sabres, Flyers, Penguins and Capitals. This will be a very tough division to win given the recent success of some of the teams. The Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Flyers, Islanders, Bruins and Capitals all made deep playoff runs this past season and the Rangers and Penguins made appearances in the Bubble as well but didn’t make it far. It will be very tough but for the New York/ New Jersey teams, a lot of excitement and promise.
The Rangers got swept in the play-in tournament last season, ending their playoff hopes early. But shortly after that, they must have been wearing their lucky shoes because they won the NHL Draft lottery, with a 2.5% chance of winning(the 12th best odds out of 15 teams). This was obviously a huge win for the Rangers. They ended up taking the consensus number 1 prospect, Alexis Laferniere, a 19 year old Left Winger who will provide a spark or energy and goal scoring to the Rangers who lacked that from their 3rd and 4th line guys. The Rangers enter the season as the second youngest team behind the Chicago Blackhawks. They moved on from their older veterans this past offseason, letting go Defenseman Marc Staal and legendary Goal Keeper Henrik Lundqvist. As sad as it was for Ranger fans to see King Henrik not wearing #30 in Madison Square Garden, they are excited for Igor Shesterkin to be the goalie of the future.
The Islanders were 2 wins away from making a Stanley Cup appearance last season, losing in game 6 to the future winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning. A young team led by legendary head coach, Barry Trotz. We saw Islanders captain Matt Barzal go from star to superstar during the playoff run. After their incredible run, they had a quite offseason, and didn’t make many moves. The team wanted to clear space to be able to resign Matt Barzal. They still haven’t done that, but expect that deal to get solidified during the regular season. Islander fans are excited about their goal keeping duo with Semyon Varlamov and rookie Ilya Sorokin, who hasn’t appeared in an NHL game yet. Isles fans hope Sorokin can be the goalie of the future for them.
(Pictured are Islanders players celebrating a win in the 2020 Playoffs)
The Devils may not have been able to get Laferniere, but they did draft a young promising guy in Alexander Holtz. While he may not see NHL ice right away, he has a lot of upside. Plus, first overall pick last year, Jack Hughes, has a fully year under his belt and will look to bounce back from a shaky rookie year that was cut short due to COVID. The addition of a former 2nd overall pick Ryan Murray to pair him up with P.K Subban will solidify that defensive pairing. This young team may be at the bottom of the divison, especially given the tough opponents they will face, but they have some bright spots who could potentially make them exciting.
The Big Apple has got a lot of young talent and a lot of promise. While the Eastern Division is loaded with talent, the Devils, Rangers and Islanders have a lot of young guys who will look to make impacts and put New York hockey back on the map.
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