Talk about an accelerated rebuild on Broadway! When the puck dropped on the 2019-20 campaign back in October (which seemed like ages ago), few around the hockey world pegged the New York Rangers to be playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Nine months later and the Blueshirts find themselves locking horns with the Carolina Hurricanes in a best-of-five showdown which kicks off this weekend.
When hockey fans think of the Rangers, names like Mika Zibanejad and Hart Trophy nominee Artemi Panarin usually come to mind, and rightfully so. However, this year has also seen the emergence of a few unsung heroes on Broadway. Not only have these players had solid seasons, but they can also pay huge dividends for the Rangers in the postseason. Let’s take a closer look at three viable candidates slated to become unsung heroes in New York during this summer’s NHL playoffs.
Ryan Strome: Center
Mississauga, Ontario native, Ryan Strome gets the ball rolling as the first potential unsung hero for the Rangers. If you’re looking for an under-the-radar talent, look no further than Strome, who’s been a lock in the Rangers top-6 at the center-ice position this season.
When he’s on his game, Strome is a strong two-way player who is good and transition and better than most would think in front of goal. He’s savvy, intelligent, and is a very underrated playmaker playing second-fiddle to the likes of Panarin and Zibanejad.
At 27 years of age, Strome has bounced around a bit, previously suiting up for the (arch-rival) New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers. With this being said, it looks as though he’s finally found a home at Madison Square Garden. His stats this season are impressive scoring 18 goals, 41 assists, for 59 points in just 70 games to complement a plus-21 rating. Strome has been a revelation this season on Broadway. Look for him to pick up where he left off against the stingy Hurricanes.
Ryan Lindgren: Defenseman
Ryan Lindgren is second up on our list as a real, strong two-way defenseman in the making on Broadway. Playing in the shadow of Adam Fox, Tony DeAngelo, and Jacob Trouba, Lindgren put together a solid showing for the Rangers in 2019-20. During his first full season in the NHL, Lindgren did not disappoint tallying one goal and 16 points in 60 games played.
At 22 years of age, Lindgren is just tipping the iceberg for a player oozing with potential, smarts, and playmaking ability. During the play-in round against the Hurricanes, Lindgren should provide stability on the Rangers blue-line either on either the second or third pairing. This season saw Lindgren average 16:34 of ice time with a plus-16 rating, which is pretty impressive, to say the least for a rookie. Besides, Lindgren has earned the trust of his coach and the entire organization as a really important piece in New York.
In the NHL playoffs, physical play is magnified. Luckily for the Rangers, Lindgren loves to throw his weight around, and “mix it up” with the opposing team’s forwards. He has quick feet, makes good decisions with the puck, and has a real chance to blossom at this summer’s tournament. Lindgren is, without question, a player to keep your eye on when their best-of-five series begins on Saturday.
Pavel Buchnevich: Left-Wing
Russian-born winger, Pavel Buchnevich rounds out our list as an unsung hero on Broadway. Listed at 6’3,195lbs, Buchnevich’s game continues to grow, evolve, and develop, much to the joy of the Rangers organization. Before the halt of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Buchnevich was quietly having a career-best season. In just 68 games, Buchnevich tallied career highs in assists (30), points (46), and ice-time (16:56). He also found the net 16 times.
Since being drafted in the third round by the Rangers back in 2013, Buchnevich has been “found money” in every sense of the imagination. He’s big, strong, and can really skate. Buchnevich is the type of player any team would love to have because he’s coachable, works hard for his teammates, and can play big minutes up and down your lineup. He has become quite the integral piece for the Blueshirts and a real go-to guy for head coach David Quinn. The puck drops this weekend. Are you ready, Rangers fans?
Honorable Mentions: D Marc Staal, RW Jesper Fast
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images