Examining New York Rangers Captain Candidates

New York Rangers Captain
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The New York Rangers are one of the few teams without a captain. New York hasn’t had a captain since Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. The Blueshirts have used different players in their leadership group and it’s worked out well. However, the talk of the Buffalo Sabres possibly naming a captain has the quest for a New York Rangers captain ramp up.

More chatter around a possible captain got louder in recent weeks. The Athletic’s Arthur Staple said that Jacob Trouba was floated as a possible captain. However, that idea was nixed.

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There are a few worthy candidates, so let’s take a look at them. Who should be the next New York Rangers captain?

List of New York Rangers Captain Hopefuls

Mika Zibanejad

The Swede has been a favourite of the Madison Square Garden faithful since coming over the Derick Brassard trade. Zibanejad has scored 165 goals since coming over from the Ottawa Senators in 2016-17. There have been writers on the site that have advocated for Zibanejad to be the team’s captain. Many seem to agree with that notion since he’s one of the Rangers’ most visible players.

There are some that argue that a top scorer might not be captain material. However, Zibanejad has been about more than goals. When he was dealing with COVID-19 at the start of the 2020-21 season, he did much more than score goals. The Swedish star helped out more on the defensive end and did all the little things. His goal-scoring did eventually return, but he’s not just a superstar scorer.

He’s won the team’s Extra Effort Award before and that’s for a player that exhibits more than just goals. The award is named for New York City Police Detective Steven McDonald, who died in the line of duty. Zibanejad would be a fine choice for a captain, but he’s not the only one.

Chris Kreider

Kreider has also been argued as a captain by another writer on this site. The Boston area native had his first 50-plus goal season for the Blueshirts. The winger has formed a deadly partnership with Zibanejad over the last few seasons. He’s fast and scores the goals at a great pace.

The 31-year-old still has another five years left on his contract and the Rangers want stability with the “C.” Krieder can score, but is also more than just that. He was this year’s winner of the Extra Effort Award, which is a big deal among Rangers’ fans. He’s also willing to get in and throw punches if he needs to.

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A captain shouldn’t be fighting at the drop of a hat, but he should be willing to drop the gloves if he needs to. Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has done this on a few occasions and Kreider has done this as well. He even did this in the preseason after New Jersey Devils defenceman P.K. Subban had a questionable hit on Ryan Reaves.

Kreider came to the rescue of Reaves and tried to get some sort of retribution on Subban. Teammates like Kevin Rooney appreciated the sentiment and that’s what a captain does.

Adam Fox

If the Rangers want to go younger, then Fox might be the choice for the next captain. It’s not far-fetched to have a younger player don the “C.” The Edmonton Oilers did gave superstar Connor McDavid the captain’s role at a young age. Colorado did the same thing with Landeskog. Steve Yzerman was the first of the young captains when he led the Detroit Red Wings.

The idea has been bandied about by MSG broadcaster Joe Micheletti, who mentioned this during a game last season. New York has often given its best player the captain’s role. Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr, Brian Leetch and McDonagh were clearly the best players on their respective teams when we they were captain. It was only recently, when Ryan Callahan was captain, that the “C” went to someone that wasn’t the best player.

Fox might not be at the age to be captain by most NHL standards. However, he’s got the makings of a future leader. He may be the future captain of the Rangers. Fox starts his seven-year contract this coming season, so he’s got time.

Jacob Trouba

Trouba has been an assistant captain for a while, so he deserves to be mentioned as a possible candidate. It seemed like he was going to be captain, but that talk was stopped with the coaching change from David Quinn to Gallant.

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The Michigan product is a rugged defender that has brought some big hits the past season. Trouba is also willing to stand up for his fellow teammates if needed. He sometimes has to answer the bell for the hits he doles out. It seems like Trouba will be part of the future leadership group, but it looks like the team will go in other direction.

Artemi Panarin

There was talk in 2021 about “The Bread Man” being a possible captain. However, he quickly brushed that aside and said “we have more deserving candidates for that role now” when he talked to the Hockey in the Know Instagram page.

It’s very mature of Panarin to say that it would be a lot of extra work. Many times people chase titles and want the role. However, Panarin seems to want to focus on scoring and other things.

There’s also the matter of the Staple report on general manager Chris Drury being displeased with Panarin. It may seem that there’s just some leftover anger about losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. Panarin’s contract would be way too hard to move, so it just seems like leftover frustration.

Who Gets the “C”?

It seems like the first three choices are the most logical ones. Zibanejad and Kreider would be good picks if they want a longtime veteran to take the role. Fox would be a good choice if they want someone that’s going to be around for a while. The last two of Trouba and Panarin seem like shots in the dark.

Kreider seems to be the one we’d take if we were forced to pick a captain. He’s been through the good times and the bad and is a link to the last Rangers’ Stanley Cup team. However, “Zibby” and “Foxy” seem like good choices if the management went with either one other than Kreider.