With the NHL expansion draft looming on June 21st the New York Rangers are due to lose a star player to the budding franchise in Las Vegas. As we are well aware, seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender are protected by each team leaving one player on that squad susceptible to removal. No movement clauses are in effect, meaning if a player does not wish to be eligible, the team is forced to protect them. In the case of the New York Rangers, their depth is what will be their downfall this June. The Las Vegas Golden Knight will either get a top line forward, or a starting goaltender out of the Rangers.
Raanta? Or Grabner?
Las Vegas will have their hands full choosing their new starting goaltender. Their starter should be a proven back up who wants the opportunity to start in a new franchise and earn a starting spot. I have already made a case for Phillip Grubauer, as he is unlikely to gain the starting job from Braden Holtby anytime soon. A similar case could be made for Raanta in New York. Henrik Lundqvist is 35 years old and is coming off of a stellar season, albeit marked by injury. His playoff performances and World Cup efforts have demonstrated Henrik’s viability as a long term starter. Raanta is unlikely to take Hank’s job next season or the season afterward as the King still reigns in New York. Raanta likely would want an opportunity to succeed, and Vegas is the perfect place. This could be a mutually beneficial draft as a true number one goaltender is coveted around the league. With Raanta’s current stats he could become an integral starter for the franchise, or continue to share the crease with The King. At 28 years old he would need to make an impact in the league soon, and Vegas is the place to do it.
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On the other hand, Grabner is a skilled and speedy forward that can put the puck in the net. I don’t need to get into detail regarding the forwards skill, other than the fact that he would likely be the highest scoring player on Las Vegas’s roster. He was second on the Rangers in scoring (by one goal behind Kreider) with 27 goals and 40 points that will go on Grabner’s resume this season. None of these points were on the PP, demonstrating Grabner’s depth value on the Rangers and the potential he could have on both a powerplay situation, and with top line minutes in Las Vegas. He has all the skills to be successful in the league, and at 29 years old is still continuing to get better.
As you can see, Grabner’s resurgence in the league could mark a plateau, or a sign of things to come for the winger. A change of scenery along with top line minutes and powerplay time could warrant continued success in Las Vegas.