I listed my top-25 off-season questions last week. Throughout the summer and early-fall, I will cover each of those questions, hoping to finish before the draft or free agent, Rather than place a link to each one in the first paragraph, I will post the link following the completion of each blog in the table below that contains all 25 questions.
In this blog, I tackle question #10: "Do the Rangers need to name a captain? If so, should that be Mika Zibanejad or Chris Kreider?
Regardless of your view, did Kreider's comments in the Game 3 press conference above sway your view?
The Rangers have not had a captain since Ryan McDonagh was traded in 2017. In lieu of a captain,. New York opted to go with a fairly set list of associate captains, a list that has included Marc Staal, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast. McDonagh struggled a bit with the burden of being a captain with many feeling the additional requirements of that role contributed to the decline of his play the last year-plus in New York. To me, that's too easy of an argument, but there is no question his play trailed off. However, my view is that it was more physical than anything else.
If choosing the best player, Zib or Artemi Panarin would be the choice. Zib, though, has become more of a leader on and off the ice, making him a better option than Panarin. We have seen the growth in Zib since he arrived for Derick Brassard and he would be a fine choice, if John Davidson and Jeff Gorton selected him.
Kreider to me should be the choice. We have heard chapter and verse from the young kids and new acquisitions of how Kreider has helped them settle in, been a voice of leadership in the room and the go-to person. I think part of the reason why he was extended was that leadership quotient he brings to the team. His ability to speak Russian gives him the ability to communicate with Panarin, Vitali Kravtsov and Igor Shesterkin, adding to the reasons why to me if a captain is named, it should be Kreider.
If you need another reason. Look at the press conference above. Kreider was self-critical of himself. Felt he should have done more to prevent the team from worrying about being physical at the expense of smart on the ice. Kreider thought that the players were so amped up to hit, they changed their game. He wore his heart on his sleeve and bemoaned his inability to change the tide. To me, that's what a captain does. Puts the focus on himself, takes the blame when need be and teaches.
11) Which is the true Brett Howden, the one that did little from October to March or the one we saw against Carolina?
12) Do you view the three-game sweep as a good learning experience, as mentioned by several including Davidson, for the neophytes on the team or is it too early to make that call?
13) Were you satisfied with the growth seen from Kappo Kakko and what's your realistic view as to what we should expect in years 2 and 3?
14) If Lundqvist is not back, do you want Alexandar Georgiev as Igor Shesterkin's 2020-21 backup or are you dealing him for additional assets? If bringing him back next year, are you signing him for more than one season?
15) Are you concerned with Artemiy Panarin's small late-season swoon? No goals in the last eight games before the pandemic and just one goal in the three-game sweep?
16) What is the identity of this Rangers' team? Do we know? Is one needed?
17) Can Brendan Lemiuex repeat how he played in Game 3 against Carolina or was that the aberration and not the norm?
18) What should be done with Lias Andersson? (from Tommy G on 8/7)
19) Who will be Jacob Trouba's partner next season if it's not Smith? (from Tommy G on 8/7)
20) How does the looming Expansion Draft affect the decision made for a particular signing/trade/buyout? (from Hedgedog 8/8)
21) If buying one player out, presuming that it's not Lundqvist for a variety of reasons, is it Staal or Smith, or do you not buyout anyone?
22) Presuming Lafreniere is the pick, on which line does he start the season? If New York makes no major acquisitions, what is your top-nine and fourth line? Is Morgan Barron on the team to start the season? (new)
23) Who do you want to target in free agency or via trade? (please be realistic in your proposals. That applies to who New York could get and what they would give up, so no 4-for-1 offers where the team grossly overpays. (new)
24) Does Gord Murphy end up on the coaching staff for 2020-21 or is someone else brought in to helm the defense and the penalty kill? (new)
25) When do you think New York contends for the Cup? 2021-22, 22-23 or other? (new)