New York Rangers on Pace for Career High Numbers
In the 2016-17 season, many players on the Rangers roster have already or are on pace to have one their best seasons in their careers.
Having played 54 games, the New York Rangers are over halfway through the season. Some players on the roster have already hit or are on pace to surpass career highs in goals, assists and points.
The New York Rangers offense has put out a strong showing in the first half of this season – 24 of their 36 wins this year they have won scoring more than three goals. It is in large part due to these players who have performed at this high level.
Kevin Hayes has been the biggest surprise for the New York Rangers this season.
In his first year in the league, Hayes notched a respectable 17 goals and 28 assists for 45 points. In his sophomore season, he received a lot of attention for not producing up to standards he set (he wasn’t far off with 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points).
The 24-year-old right wing lost 20 pounds in the offseason and his stats show it.
Hayes is skating, stickhandling, passing and shooting as well as he ever has. Based on the way he has been playing, he’s on pace to blow his previous numbers out of the water.
Currently sitting at 14 goals and 27 assists for 41 points in 50 games, Hayes is projected to finish the season with 21.6 goals and 41.6 assists for a total 63.2 points.
Hayes has been vital to the success on all areas of the ice this season. His line with J.T. Miller and Michael Grabner has been one of the Ranger’s top performing, but Hayes can play with anyone on the roster merely because he has been making the players around him better.
This season, Hayes has found sure footing in his role on the ice, and this has contributed to the confidence he plays with and his production on the ice.
After a breakout season last year, center J.T.Miller has come out just as strong in the first half of the 2016-17 season.
Last year, Miller broke the 50-point mark earning a total 52 points off 22 goals and 21 assists. He has already surpassed these is impressive numbers and is another player on the Rangers roster on pace to hit the 60-point mark.
Miller leads the Rangers with a career-high 45 points on the year. Though he has not yet surpassed his career high 22 goals – he currently has 18 – he has broken his career high assists with 27 this season (last year he recorded 21).
He is on pace to finish the year with 26.8 goals and 40.3 assists for a total 67.1 points.
Miller is doing exactly what the Rangers need him to this year – he is outperforming in every area of the stat sheet and, ultimately, making himself indispensable. Miller has shown that he has the potential to play consistently and make an impact on the ice.
Michael Grabner is one of the best pickups the Rangers made in this offseason. Grabner played for the Islanders for five seasons and had some of his most successful years there early in his career.
Prior to coming to the Rangers, Grabner’s career high point total came for him in his second year in the league during the 2010-11. He put up 52 points (34 goals, 18 assists) at the age of 23.
Currently, he leads the Rangers in goals with 26 and has a total 36 points. Grabner is on pace to surpass his career-high total; in 82 games, Grabner should end up with 54 points – 39 goals, 15 assists.
Grabner has already surpassed his third highest record in the league, and the season is only halfway through. In 2011-12, Grabner notched 32 points off 20 goals and 12 assists.
Grabner’s addition to the team added much needed depth on the roster. While the Rangers have always had strength in the bottom six, it has not shown as much as it has since Grabner arrived.
His speed and skill set has been a perfect match for Miller and Hayes and it will likely lead to a performance that he has not seen since his second year in the league.
Chris Kreider had his most successful season for the Rangers last year and is on pace to be even more successful in the 2016-17 season.
Just halfway through the season, the 25-year-old has already broken his career high goals earning 22 this season.
His previous record was 21 goals – a number he hit the last two seasons – and he is on pace to break the 50 point mark for the first time in his career. His current projections actually put him over the 60-point mark (at 60.5) something that is feasible based on how he has been playing with Mats Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad.
Kreider has established himself as one of the Rangers most reliable offensemen for the Rangers. Over his first four seasons with the Rangers, he has been knocked for producing but not being consistent. This year, however, he has stepped up and truly shown his value.
There are many other players that could have made this list, in fact every player on the top three lines is projected to reach the 50 point mark playing through 82 games (some like Stepan and Zuccarello should reach the 60-point mark as well).
The production from the Rangers this year comes from all four lines on the roster and, on top of this, has come from offenseman and defensemen alike. Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei are each projected to have over 40 points through the rest of the season.
Despite the great showings by so many Rangers on the roster this season, the team still sits in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and a wildcard slot. Seeing that beyond the Montreal Canadiens, who are just three points behind in the standings, they have almost 10 points on all other teams in the Eastern Conference, there is no need to necessarily move up in the standings.
However, the Rangers need to consider how they can best approach the playoffs with defensive challenges they have faced this season.
This second half needs to focus on fine-tuning the small details that can make the Rangers as dangerous as possible offensively in the postseason. Much of that centers on these key players stepping up, staying healthy and continuing to do everything in their power to continue to put up points.
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