Hartnett: McDonagh, Lundqvist Highlight Rangers All-Decade Team

Take A Look At Which Blueshirts Made The Cut

Sean Hartnett
December 26, 2019 - 9:04 am
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During the past decade, the Rangers spent a chunk of the 2010’s as an Eastern Conference powerhouse. Though the Blueshirts fell short of their ultimate Stanley Cup ambitions, several John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault teams embarked on memorable playoff runs.

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Here’s my 23-man roster, forward lines, defensive pairings and head coach for the Rangers' Team of the Decade.

FORWARDS

Panarin – Zibanejad - Zuccarello

Nash – Stepan - Gaborik

Kreider – Richards ( A ) - St. Louis

Hagelin – Brassard - Hayes

Scratches: Fast, Boyle

Panarin? Already? Yeah, he’s already done enough in half a season in Rangers’ blue to earn the nod on the top line. The sheer excitement he has brought to The Garden pushes him onto the top line ahead of a pair of celebrated left wings in Rick Nash and Chris Kreider.

NY Rangers center Artemi Panarin is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks Oct 20, 2019; New York, NY
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

A good debate could be had over whether Mika Zibanejad or Derek Stepan should center the top line. Though Stepan was a model of consistency across the seven years that he called Madison Square Garden home, Zibanejad is closing out the decade just a hair below a point-per-game production over this season and the last.

Choosing to dress Kevin Hayes or Jesper Fast was a tough call. Hayes gets the nod and slides over to the wing because of his offensive production. It was hard leaving Ryan Callahan and J.T. Miller off the team.

DEFENSEMEN

McDonagh ( C ) - Stralman

Yandle – Girardi ( A )

Staal - Fox

Scratch: Skjei

Salary cap mismanagement caused the Rangers to drift from a robust, borderline elite defensive unit – to a declining d-core largely held together by the minute-devouring efforts of Ryan McDonagh – to what could kindly be described as a tire fire over the past three-to-four seasons.

McDonagh’s all-around contributions, professionalism and the effectiveness of his lead-by-example approach is why he’s captain of this All-Decade Team.

Ryan McDonagh (27) and J.T. Miller
USA TODAY Images

Lately, Adam Fox, Tony DeAngelo and slew of youngsters performing well in the minors, college and Europe have offered hope that the 2020’s could spur a defensive turnaround.

Brady Skjei, Kevin Klein or DeAngelo could have arguably squeezed into the top six – but Fox has generated serious buzz in a short time that’s hard to ignore. We might look back at this season as the making of a truly great Ranger defensemen.

GOALTENDERS

Starter: Lundqvist

Backup: Raanta

What can be said about Lundqvist that hasn’t been said already? He performed as the best goalie of his generation and cruel luck in multiple playoffs denied him a deserved championship parade down The Canyon of Heroes.

Oct 12, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) looks up after making a save during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Choosing Lundqvist’s backup is difficult given how well Cam Talbot, Antti Raanta and now Alexandar Georgiev fared as understudies. Raanta gets the edge.

HEAD COACH

Alain Vigneault

This will be an unpopular choice among some – but no one got the Rangers closer to Lord Stanley than Vigneault. His reinvention of the Rangers into a possession-based, fast-paced bunch generated real results following Tortorella wearing out bodies and minds in his final season.

Though the defensive blemishes and struggles to progress youth in Vigneault’s final years contributed to his exit, he will forever be remembered as the coach who nearly reproduced 1994.

Follow Sean on Twitter: @HartnettHockey

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