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The 2023-24 Rangers Defensive Pairs and Goalie Tandem: A Prediction

Although the names are almost set, the Rangers’ defence and goalies have a tough task ahead in an ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division.

With the regular season less than a month away, the excitement around the National Hockey League is building. Teams have kicked off their rookie camps just a few weeks before the start of preseason. For the Rangers, it is unlikely that one of their rookies will make the opening night roster, especially in their defensive core.

The 2023-24 Rangers Defence and Goalies: A Prediction

Picking the six names might be one of the easier jobs for new head coach Peter Laviolette. The six defencemen and two goalies have been set since the end of “Free Agent Frenzy”. Here’s who will be taking the ice on the blue line and in the crease.

First Pair: Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox

What else can be said about this pair? These two have been through it all together. From playing together at the World Junior Championships for Team USA to the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren have grown significantly. Having played alongside each other for a few seasons, these two have become fan favourites within the Rangers community.

The Rangers have been blessed with Adam Fox as he has solidified himself as a top-five defencemen in the NHL. Ever since his trade from Carolina in 2019, Fox has been nothing but a perfect fit for the Blueshirts. The Jericho, NY native has 235 points in 285 games played. In 2021, he became the first Norris Trophy winner from the Rangers since Brian Leetch won back in 1997. He has turned himself into the perfect quarterback to lead the Rangers’ powerplay into the top half once again. When his career is finished ways away from now, Adam Fox just might be one of the greatest Blueshirts ever.

Next to Fox is, to me, the heart and soul of this Rangers roster: Ryan Lindgren. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher is the type of defencemen that is the perfect complement to Fox. A modern-day Dan Girardi, Lindgren will put his body on the line every single play. Whether it is going for that collision on the boards or laying in front of a clapper from the blue line, Ranger goaltenders are blessed to have someone like #55 in blue.

Second Pair: K’Andre Miller and Jacob Trouba

With these two as the tallest pair on the back end, K’Andre Miller and Jacob Trouba have so much to offer. Both Miller and Trouba are classified as two-way players. Not only do they have the ability to find the back of the net, but they are both forces in their zone.

It takes a different breed of athlete to play well in New York City. It takes a different kind to be named the captain of one of their teams. Although he took some heat at the beginning of last season, Jacob Trouba has surprised many with his leadership. No one will forget when he slammed his helmet after leaving the ice in their disgusting loss to Chicago last December. Ever since that moment, Trouba has made it clear that he wants this hockey club to be the best that it can be. A lot of that aggression and passion has rubbed off onto his partner.

The Blueshirts are also blessed to have such a versatile defencemen like K’Andre Miller. He possesses great skating ability and an impressive offensive mind. His long reach makes it difficult for forwards to create chances against the pair. With the two being similar in style, the Rangers’ second pair has the chance to be just as impactful as the first.

Third Pair: Erik Gustafsson and Braden Schneider

One thing that has impressed me with Braden Schneider is his adaptability to play next to various partners over the course of his young career. He’s another one who can play the physical game. He’s in your face and is not afraid to throw it on the net when he can. This October, he finds himself with a new partner, one who is familiar with Laviolette’s system.

Blake Wheeler might go down as the “bargain of the summer”, but in the running for that title is Erik Gustafsson. The 31-year-old is now on his seventh team and can still be a force on this Rangers roster. He’s decent at moving the puck and finding an open lane. Gustafsson is just nine points away from reaching 200 in his career, which began in 2015. The theme for these pairs is balance and this third pair exemplifies just that.

Goalies: Igor Shesterkin (Starter) and Jonathan Quick (Backup)

It’s not a hard choice to name a starting goaltender for the Rangers. Since his career began during the 2019-20 season, Igor Shesterkin has taken Madison Square Garden by storm. With a stellar .924 save percentage and just one win away from 100 in his career, Shesterkin is now a household name not only in New York, but for the entire league. He single-handedly continued the trend of the Rangers striking gold with their netminders.

Backing up Shesterkin is the three-time Stanley Cup winner in Jonathan Quick. The Connecticut-born goaltender, who idolized Mike Richter growing up, should be amped to play his home games at The World’s Most Famous Arena. With a great portion of the load being carried by Shesterkin, Quick will be that significant piece to finish a back-to-back weekend series. Keep an eye on the month of December, as New York has three back-to-back games in a row.

We will know by Christmas whether Quick will have become a reliable backup option or not. With six solid blue-liners and two goalies destined for success, New York is willing and able to stop the puck from entering their net. The Rangers defence and goalies are capable of the tough task ahead. Who knows, the Rangers might see a Jennings Trophy in the near future.

Main Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


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