The rival New York Rangers are coming off their best season since 1994. The Blue Shirts went 45-31-6 -- finishing second in the Metropolitan and fifth in the east -- reaching the Stanley Cup final in their first year under new head coach Alain Vigneault. They ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
The 2014-15 Rangers will look relatively similar to last years version, minus some small changes. The Rangers were able to sign free agent defenseman Dan Boyle to a two year contract. They were also able to ink Kevin Hayes to a two year, entry-level contract after he declined to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blue Shirts also lost several players.Forwards Brian Boyle and Benoit Pouliot left via free agency. Forward Derek Dorsett was traded to Vancouver during the draft in Philadelphia and forward Brad Richards was bought out of his contract during the offseason. Defenseman Anton Stralman also left via free agency.
To fill in the gaps left by some of the departures, the Rangers signed forwards Lee Stempniak, Matthew Lombardi, and Tanner Glass.
Metro Newspapers' Denis Gorman helped us dive a little deeper into what to expect from the 2014-15 New York Rangers:
What was the Rangers biggest offseason acquisition and why?
The Rangers biggest signing might also be their most criticized. Dan Boyle was brought in to be the power play quarterback and heavy point shot the team has lacked since Brian Leetch and Alexander Karpatsov. But while Boyle should help improve the power play, he is 38 and the question that won't be answered until the games are played is how much is left.
What was the Rangers biggest loss of the offseason?
Depth. The Rangers run to the Stanley Cup Final was a testament to their depth. Alain Vigneault rolled four lines and played his three defense pairs, unlike his predecessor. But the Rangers cap situation made it extremely unlikely that the team would return intact, and NHL rivals saw what the Anton Stralman's, the Brian Boyle's, the Derek Dorsett's, and the Benoit Pouliot's brought to the table.
What are the Rangers biggest strength and weakness?
The Rangers should have advantages in goal, on defense, and their team speed and puck possession. When they are at their best, the Rangers are an attacking hockey club that is defensively sound which is why they have been a consistent playoff team since the 2004-05 lockout.
Their biggest weakness is size, which the Kings exposed in the Stanley Cup Final. I'm not sure that flaw has been addressed quite yet.
Where will the Rangers finish the 2014-15 season and why?
Unless things go drastically wrong, the Rangers should be a playoff team, one of the top three teams in the Metropolitan Division. But their off-season player personnel losses and improvements made by Eastern Conference rivals make it unlikely that the Rangers return to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Matchups: Tuesday, October 14 at Madison Square Garden; Tuesday, January 13 at Madison Square garden; Tuesday, January 27 at Nassau Coliseum; Monday, February 16 at Nassau Coliseum; Tuesday, March 10 at Nassau Coliseum