The Rangers and Devils both head into the 2015-16 regular season with completely different outlooks. The Rangers, having been to the Stanley Cup and the Eastern Conference finals the last two years, respectively, expect to make another run for the cup this coming spring. At the same time, the Devils have failed to make the playoffs since their Stanley Cup appearance in 2012 and are currently rebuilding.
In response to the retirement of Right Winger Martin St. Louis, the team decided to promote center/winger Kevin Hayes to the second line and brought up Oscar Lindberg from the AHL to fill his spot as the third line center. Fan favorite Carl Hagelin was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for right wing Emerson Etem in order to clear up cap space. Besides that, they aquired center Jarret Stoll from the Los Angeles Kings and backup goalie Antti Raanta from the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Rangers still return with their entire defensive unit intact, a rarity in today’s salary cap era, and will of course feature their world-class goalie in Henrik Lundqvist. Forwards Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes are all under the age of 25 and will be relied upon to make up for the production of St. Louis.
The Rangers once again plan on making a deep playoff run, and fans like Ramapo student Aslan Peret hope that this can be the year the team finally breaks through and wins their first cup in over 20 years.
“They can absolutely win the Cup,” said Peret. “The past two years we’ve been top competitors in the playoffs and this year will be no different. We have a lot of young skillful players and I think it’s about time Hank gets a ring.”
Meanwhile, on the Devils’ side, there is much less optimism. General Manager Lou Lamoriello resigned after 28 years in the Devils’ organization and was replaced with Ray Shero. Patrik Elias is unavailable because of a knee injury. Their biggest acquisition was acquiring Right Wing Kyle Palmieri from the Ducks. While he has potential, he has little talent surrounding him. Other players that will be relied upon for scoring include left wing Mike Cammalleri and center Jacob Josefson along with centers Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac. Defenseman Adam Larsson and captain Andy Greene anchor the blue line and could bloom into one of the best in the league at his position. Goalie Cory Schneider proved he is a reliable netminder last season.
While there are pieces here for future success, Devil fans like Brendan Hulmes do not believe that the success will come this year.
“We won’t make the playoffs this year, and I’m fine with that,” said Hulmes. “It’s a rebuilding year, and we’ll be back in a few seasons.”