After the former New York Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Martin St. Louis last spring, the Rangers were left without a captain for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season. This season however, the team will have to pick a new captain. The Stanley Cup Playoffs limited the options that the team would choose from, however there are still many viable options that the Rangers can choose from. Here are their three best options:
3. Mats Zuccarello – Mats Zuccarello proved last season that he is finally ready to play at the NHL level. In his 4th NHL season, Zuccarello scored 19 goals which were accompanied by 40 assists. Both statistics are career bests for the young forward. At only 26 years old, Zuccarello proved that he is willing to play his hardest, even with a minimal pay. Last season, Zuccarello was paid $1.15 million for one season and still performed at an exceptional level. This season, he will be paid $3.5 million, but the New York Rangers will have to re-sign him again if he’s to be in NY after this season. If they’re serious about re-signing him to a long term deal, it would benefit the Rangers to consider giving Zuccarello the captaincy of the team or to allow him to be an alternative captain.
2. Martin St. Louis – Martin St. Louis proved last season that even at 38 years old, he can still compete at the NHL level. His blistering speed and accurate shots helped the New York Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. While the Rangers can’t expect St. Louis to be playing at this level for several years, it’s likely that St. Louis will be able to benefit the Rangers for at least another two seasons. St. Louis also has captaincy experience. St. Louis was the captain on the Tampa Bay Lightning for the majority of the 2013-2014 season before requesting a trade after his Olympic snub. While making Martin St. Louis the next New York Rangers’ captain would cause a lot of controversy, it may not be a bad strategy. While the most likely captain would be Ryan McDonagh, allowing him to focus on fine tuning his already exceptional play for a few seasons may make him an even better captain once St. Louis decides to retire. This plan is a long-shot but realistically, it may benefit McDonagh in the future and will allow him to focus on fixing minor problems he has had before throwing this heavy weight onto his shoulders.
1. Ryan McDonagh – Ryan McDonagh has proven to New York Rangers fans that he is a front-runner for the captaincy of the team. Only at 25 years old, his dedication to the team has already been proven for years. His ability to block shots is second-to-none on the team and his disciplined play rarely costs the Rangers. McDonagh has already been in conversations about winning or being nominated for the Norris Trophy. Any blemishes in his game that gave Rangers fans reasons of why he may not be ready to captain the team, were put to rest last season. A major issue he had was his playoff scoring ability. McDonagh only had 8 points in 37 playoff appearances before last season. Last season however, McDonagh tallied 17 points in 25 games. He also set regular season career highs in goals (14) and assists (29). One goal that McDonagh regularly talks about in interviews, is winning the Stanley Cup. With McDonagh as captain, the New York Rangers are that much closer to achieving the goal they have been waiting 20 years for.