Head coach John Torterella was fired after that fast and disappointing loss to the Bruins. It really looked like he "lost the room" after throwing his players under the bus in a late season press conference, and now he has been replaced with a far more player friendly coach in Alain Vignault. The Rangers will continue to be a contending team next season, they will make the playoffs, and probably win a round or two. Hardline coaches like Torts tend to have a shorter shelf life, even if they are very effective early in their tenure. His abrasive style cost him the job, but it is that abrasive style that made him a successful coach in the first place. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
Chris Kreider came in below expectations, scoring just 3 PTS in 23 regular season games after an impressive playoff run last year. He is arguably the top Rangers prospect, so they have a lot riding on his future. Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash each had a very good season, and give the team a solid core that will be competitive for the foreseeable future. If you are a Rangers fan, there is no reason to be concerned. Until Henrik Lundquvist stops being Henrik Lundqvist, everything will be fine.
Preseason Rank: 2
Midseason Rank: 18
Final Rank: 10
GM Grade: D
1st Star: Henrik Lundqvist
2nd Star: Derek Stepan
3rd Star: Rick Nash
UFAs: Ryane Clowe, Roman Hamrlik, Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy
RFAs: Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer
Best Contract: Marc Staal 2 more years at $3.97M
Worst Contract: Brad Richards 7 more years at $6.7M
What I said about them in preseason: They'll have some problems with the salary cap next season, but for this shortened campaign, look-out. This will be a tough team to play. They are loaded at every position and have a fantastic mix of youth and experience. A top competitor to be sure.
This will be another difficult offseason for the Rangers GM. If they want to keep Stepan, Hagelin, and McDonagh, it will need to be for less than $11M. I think it's unlikely that they will buyout the contract of Richards after firing Torts so soon after the playoffs and replacing him with a more player friendly coach. They added some flexibility letting go of Gaborik, and may not need to buy out any contracts. They only have 4 players under contract in 2014, Nash, Richards, Staal, and Dorsett. Glenn Sather might want to consider passing his duties on to a new General Manager, because there is going to be a lot of work to do over the next two summers.