There will not be changes made to the blueprint.
That is how Rangers director of player personnel Gordie Clark summed up the state of the franchise following the week-long organizational meetings in team president and general manager Glen Sather’s home La Quinta, Calif.
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“I think we’ll remain patient,” Clark told Metro New York in a wide-ranging phone interview Wednesday. “We’ve been very patient the last five or six years, keeping all this youth together. I think that’s the way the organization will stay.”
Entering what may be one of the most intriguing off-seasons in franchise history, the Rangers are an interesting conundrum. Are they a Cup contender? Are they a group with a bright future? Or is the window to win the franchise’s first Cup since 1993-94 rapidly closing?
Those questions will not be fully answered until the puck drops for the 2013-14 season. However, some questions will be answered in a training camp where the organization’s young talent will have an opportunity to win NHL jobs. One such player is Oscar Lindberg, who recorded 42 points (17 goals and 25 assists) in 55 games with Skelleftea HC of the Swedish Elite League.
“He probably had a bigger season than any one of [the organizational prospects], as far as what we expected,” Clark said. “We always had him as a very good two-way center. [He is] good on both sides of the puck, can make a play, score a goal and probably have him out there in the last minute of a game protecting a one-goal lead. He had a huge offensive year and was a big part of [Skelleftea HC] winning the championship. He was also the best-looking prospect in our summer camp last year. I would say he would be coming in with a lot of confidence and trying out for one of those spots [as a] third- or fourth-line center role.”
Lindberg, 21, will not be the only young player entering camp with confidence. Chris Kreider was the Rangers’ best skater in the final two games of the second-round series against the Bruins, including having scored the game-winner in the Rangers’ 4-3 overtime win in Game 4 following a campaign in which he was shuttled between Connecticut and the Rangers.
“Kreider was diligent about his work in the minor leagues and got himself called up, and played really well for us in the playoffs,” Clark said. “As he became more confident, he was becoming more of a threat. He really seemed to do well when he was playing with [Rick] Nash. Both Washington and Boston were keying on [Nash] as our top forward. Chris’s speed and strength made them concentrate a little bit more on him, and opened up some things for Nash.”
In the final two games of the Boston series, Nash and Kreider were centered by Derick Brassard, who became a key component to the Rangers after the April 3 trade-deadline blockbuster which saw the Rangers land John Moore and Derek Dorsett along with the center in the trade that sent Marian Gaborik to Columbus.
Clark believes the deal may have fortified the organization’s future, as Brassard, 25, and Moore, 22, are still reasonably young players.
“Those guys, Brassard, he was a top first-round pick and John Moore was a top first-round pick. In those situations, you get a player and they’re still very young in their career,” Clark said. “Those were like nabbing two first-round picks.”
Since-fired head coach John Tortorella routinely said the trades “filled out” the roster for the sprint to clinch a playoff berth. The Rangers won 10-of-14 games in April and clinched a playoff berth by beating the Hurricanes in the penultimate game of the season.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman for all your offseason news.