No, do not go from last place to winning the Cup in the same season, but the makeup of their roster is something that President John Davidson and GM Jeff Gorton need to take a look at this offseason.
(DISCLAIMER: Do not bring Stanley Cup Champion Michael Del Zotto back to New York… bum.)
The way the forward group is built is the main thing the Rangers should take note of. The Blues have their big-time star in Vladimir Tarasenko, who is one of the best players in hockey, and even though we’ve been graced with his presence since 2010, he’s only 27. The Rangers have a chance to acquire their own version of Vlad in Artemi Panarin. They are both 27, and are both point scoring machines, with Panarin being the better of the two since he came over from the KHL.
After Tarasenko, it is mainly a lot of role players. Not taking anything away from Ryan O’Reilly or any of the other forwards, but they are all older role players, and good ones at that. When it comes to the Rangers, Wayne Simmons, Joe Pavelski, and Thomas Vanek are all names that you can sprinkle in with the abundance of youth the Rangers have and have those veterans play at a high level.
Now when it comes to the defensive core, throw out the idea of Erik Karlsson coming to New York. The guy is going to deteriorate fast, ala Kevin Shattenkirk. This is the area you go to veterans. The Rangers do have solid younger defensive guys, one of which was acquired this offseason in Adam Fox. But look at what the Blues have. Guys like Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, and Carl Gunnarsson. With the Rangers having the cap space to go after guys like Anton Stralman and Brydon Coulborn, they can be filtered into the younger core of defensemen.
The only outlier in this whole roster situation is Henrik Lundqvist. As much as many fans love the guy, his time has come. Even though we know that, Hank has refused to be moved, letting the Rangers move on to where they need to be. With Alexandar Georgiev emerging as a solid young goalie, and Russian draft pick Igor Shesterkin coming over, the end of the King’s reign in the Mecca might be over.
What the St. Louis Blues did this season, a legitimate “worst to first” story, was incredible. Yes, the players executed, but a lot of the credit must go to President and GM Doug Armstrong. The way he worked to craft this roster at the deadline and believing in his guys when everyone wrote them off was amazing.
The blueprint the St. Louis Blues used to build their Stanley Cup-winning roster is something that is simple to build, but the execution is key. If Jeff Gorton and John Davidson can put their minds together to form a roster as Doug Armstrong did, success could be imminent for the Blueshirts.
Photo: Golf Digest