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Three’s Company: A dominant and eventful summer for New York’s hockey trio

Julian Tineo | The Ticker

The dog days of summer are over and fresh sheets of ice, center-ice paint jobs and fantasy rosters are finally here.

As NHLers begin flying back into their respective cities, it is beginning to feel a lot like hockey season. 

Fans and players alike are well-rested and eager to begin a new campaign. 

Although there is no certainty for any paper roster to succeed, there is always a guarantee for a season full of surprises. 

Time and time again, the league has seen heavy favorites struggle and unlikely underdogs prevail in the face of adversity.

The offseason however, is a time for management to stock up the armory. 

The three major tri-state area NHL teams have done just that.

New York Rangers 

The New York Rangers’ 18-month rebuild has gained a healthy amount of attention this offseason, with general manager Jeff Gorton and the rest of the front office getting quite a bit of props from their peers across the league.

 This summer, the Rangers’ brass has accelerated the rebuild with the additions of superstar forward Artemi Panarin, elite prospects Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, Igor Shesterkin and Adam Fox and also a new president in John Davidson. 

It is safe to say that it was not a bad haul to have completed by 5:00pm EST on July 1 with an entire summer ahead.

Along with John Davidson came his posse of professional scouts and advisors, and though some have criticized the move for nepotism, it is clear that it was all part of making the new president comfortable in his environment, while taking yet another massive step towards improving the Rangers’ developmental focus. 

Essentially, Gorton killed two birds with one stone without t
aking much risk considering the fact that up until this year the Columbus Blue Jackets, Davidson’s old team, had been trending upwards. 

Admittedly, it is evident that Gorton can only wear so many hats throughout this rebuild and has decided to cut some corners.

The Rangers’ focus was not entirely on fresh meat as the team proceeded to re-sign all of their key restricted free agents, and save for Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux, who will proceed to put pressure on management up until training camp. 

They will inevitably sign their qualifying offers and this is not a situation for fans to be concerned about.

In the meantime, some prospects have already begun their preseasons across the pond in Europe, with the first game of the Champions Hockey League starting on Aug. 29, when the points finally start to matter again. 

Some more North American exhibition action should start, leading up to the Traverse City Prospects tournament, which starts on Sept. 6. 

All of this has led up to what is sure to be an exciting and unpredictable season for this Rangers team. 

The Rangers play their first preseason game on Sept. 18 against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden.

New Jersey Devils 

The team that has had the second most popular offseason is coincidentally right across the Hudson River. 

Ray Shero’s New Jersey Devils used their lottery luck as an hors d’oeuvre, and proceeded to feast on opportunities throughout the 2019 offseason. 

After selecting Jack Hughes first overall in the NHL Entry Draft, the Devils went on to acquire P.K. Subban, one of the most lively and talented defenseman in the National Hockey League. 

Aside from being an amazing character and being engaged to a far more talented and famous spouse in Lindsey Vonn, Subban immediately becomes a top-pairing defenseman for the Devils this season.

As if acquiring a star on and off the ice was not enough, Shero took advantage of a wonderful investment opportunity in Las Vegas. 

The Vegas Golden Knights were having trouble finding a financial compromise with Russian superstar restricted free agent, Nikita Gusev, so they made him available for the right price, one that Shero gladly paid to acquire a player who he believed will be a true top-six winger in the NHL. 

To add some sizeable offensive depth to the roster, New Jersey also brought in veteran Wayne Simmonds on a one-year deal.

The Devils have also done their due diligence in resigning their key restricted free agents, especially Will Butcher. 

The blueline in Newark this season, however, could see yet another talented addition come October, as many believe 2018 first-round pick Ty Smith can make a very strong impression in training camp. 

Hughes and Smith will join some crucial additions to this Devils team, who will look to give some hope not only to their fans but also to superstar Taylor Hall, who is entering the final year of his contract.

 Showing the Devils’ potential this final season can be a major deciding factor for Hall and what he decides to do next with his career.

New York Islanders

On the opposite side of Manhattan there have been a few less fireworks. 

Granted, Islanders fans knew what they had signed up for when Lou Lamoriello was named their general manager. 

The infamous boss known simply as “Lou” has an old school approach, one that involves patience and a great deal of caution. 

That is in no way a knock on the Isles’ approach to the 2019 offseason however.

Coming off of a shockingly successful season, Lou decided to play things safe and protect the synergy of the team that was so carefully created by head coach Barry Trotz, who just wrapped up his first season behind the Isles’ bench. 

Keeping the band together required fresh contracts for veteran forwards Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Jordan Eberle.

After a questionable draft however, things grinded to a halt for the Islanders. 

Lou’s plans to acquire Artemi Panarin were thwarted by the rival Rangers, which in turn initiated a significantly more conservative approach. 

The Isles replaced goalie Robin Lehner with a veteran Russian netminder in Semyon Varlamov, signed their new first round prospect Simon Holmstrom to his Entry Level Contract, and took care of two of their three remaining restricted free agents. 

The last free agent, Anthony Beauvillier, is sure to have a new contract by the time training camp begins.

Finally, in a spectacular recent development, the Islanders announced the acquisition of former Rangers center, Derick Brassard. A cult favorite amongst Ranger fans during their most competitive years, Brassard joins his fourth club in two years in hopes of finding his game. 

If he does indeed find his game again, Brassard should be an effective bottom-six option for the Islanders next season.

2019-2020 NHL Season Key Dates

Players report to NHL training camps on Sept. 12 for physical evaluation and off-ice testing. 

On-ice drills are set to begin on Sept. 13. 

The NHL preseason begins on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas. 

The opening night of the 2019-2020 campaign and the official beginning of all of the action is scheduled for Oct. 2.

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