The New York Rangers, as well as the rest of the National Hockey League, will be getting underway in just a few days. There is a lot of hope and hype with this seemingly brand new team, and expectations have not been higher.
But, with all of that hope being on a bunch of young players and very few experienced veterans, it leaves room for a bit of disappointment. Three players specifically won’t perform as advertised during the 2019-20 season.
Here are those three players.
This season is looking like the last chance for Smith in New York. Potentially slated as the seventh defenseman, he will have to make the most of his limited time to still be on this team past the trade deadline.
Smith will ultimately be the most disappointing player for the Rangers in 2019-20. He did not have a good training camp and preseason, with the aftermath of a dismal year last season. If improvement isn’t seen, this will be Smith’s last season with the team.
The defense has seen an influx in young talent on defense with Adam Fox and Libor Hajek likely being mainstays for this season. And, over the upcoming years, there are guys like Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller that will fill the lineup sheets for years to come in New York. You want to see all players succeed, and this rings true with Smith. But, if he continues this trend of disappointing performances, his absence won’t be missed.
When Filip Chytil was among the final roster cuts, all of Rangerstown was split right down the middle. Half of the community of Rangers fans were sold on the idea of him going down to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) to improve. Meanwhile, the other half was enraged at the thought of him not playing in NHL games alongside the other young players like Lias Andersson, Kappo Kakko and Brett Howden.
I was with the latter at first, but I can see both sides of the argument and agree with the demotion. Chytil had an underwhelming preseason, and he didn’t seem any better than last season. Having first-line minutes alongside Vitali Kravtsov and gaining a serious confidence boost could go a long way for the 20-year-old. The Rangers open the season with three games over the first nine days, and Hartford plays four in the same amount of time. Chytil will likely be back with the Rangers sooner rather than later.
However, once Chytil rejoins the Rangers, his impact will be a lackluster one. He showed a lot of flash and creativity last season, especially once the season was ultimately over and there wasn’t much left to play for. But, that will be a different story in 2019-20. Time in Hartford can only give so much, and the confidence boost he gets can easily be broken when re-entering the NHL. He will not be able to have the same kind of impact as he once had, thus being a disappointment.
The last player that will not live up to his expectations and ultimately be a disappointment for the Rangers is Jesper Fast. He is one of the four remaining players from the 2014 Stanley Cup Final run, alongside Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, and Henrik Lundqvist. Additionally, he is one of the few players to wear a letter on his jersey since the 2017-18 season. He will likely lose his letter with the potential announcement of a new captain, and a new set of alternate captains.
Fast is also getting ready to enter a contract year in 2019-20. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Despite being a bottom-six forward, he has made the most of his limited time on the ice and made a difference. But, the Rangers may not need him after 2019-20 with the recent acquisitions made over the offseason. Greg McKegg, who used this preseason to secure a roster spot, and Brendan Lemieux, who used his grittiness and tenacity to earn his spot, may take all of Fast’s success away from him.
With these new faces, Fast will fall behind the pack and ultimately deliver a disappointing season. He is projected to be on the fourth line with Lemieux and McKegg and could be outshined by both of them. He gives the Rangers the best fourth line they have had in a number of years, but both of his linemates could steal the spotlight from the 27-year-old.