Regarding the Rangers, on the road to purgatory (and at Montreal on Thursday). 1. When Rick Nash goes, it will mark the exit of the last in a long line of Rangers brought in as a savior after having been some other team’s franchise player. With Henrik Lundqvist, a seventh-round selection in 2000, and Brian Leetch, ninth-overall in 1986, as exceptions over the past four decades, the Blueshirts have had to trade for franchise players, and just about always when it has been too late to matter. But this season that went irretrievably wrong within days of the calendar flipping to 2018 could be the one to put the Rangers into position to change the cycle. Because, with lottery luck that was absent in 2004 when the Blueshirts entered the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes as one of four teams with the best (6.25 percent) chance to claim the grand prize before somehow leaving with the 16th-overall selection, a continued deep dive could set up the franchise with at least a top-three selection for the first time since it was called the amateur draft. And that was in 1966, when the Rangers selected Brad Park second overall after the Bruins chose Barry Gibbs with the first pick. Imagine, the B’s could have had Park and Bobby Orr together for each’s prime, and not just for 10 games immediately following the Nov. 7, 1975 trade before Orr went down for the season with a knee injury. By the way, Orr’s final game as a Bruin came at the Garden, when he teamed with Park for a goal and an assist in Boston’s 6-4 victory. You’re not going to find this info everywhere, you know. But seriously, it has been more than five decades since the Blueshirts had a top-three pick. Every other team in the NHL has had at least one in the interim. Beyond that, the Rangers haven’t had a top-five since 1999 when then-general manager Neil Smith traded up to fourth-overall in order to grab Pavel Brendl. Better to have passed on the trade, in which Smith sent an essentially equivalent package to the Lightning as he could have sent to Hartford in 1996 for Brendan Shanahan, or at least passed on the notoriously disappointing Brendl.
Rangers’ disaster could have silver lining for franchise future
New York Post | Feb 20