Rangers News & Rumors: Division Realignment, Taxi Squad & More

The New York Rangers know now when and where they’ll be playing for the upcoming 2020-21 season. They’ll be kicking things off with the rest of the league on Jan. 13. Teams that didn’t make the play-in round for last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs are allowed to open training camp on Dec. 31, and the rest of the teams can break camp on Jan. 3. There will be no preseason games – just practices and scrimmages. Teams will be able to have 36 skaters in camp, and an unlimited amount of goaltenders.

The East Division

The Blueshirts will be in the East Division and play 56 games during the 2020-21 NHL season. The NHL will also have the West, North and Central Divisions. In the East, the Rangers will face a tough schedule and some, like NHL.com Staff Writer Amalie Benjamin would argue that it’s the strongest of the four divisions. The Rangers will be squaring off against Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, the Islanders, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Philly.

Rangers celebrate a win (Danielle Cella/Flickr)

Teams will only play other teams within their divisions and each team will play the others eight times, with the exception of the North where there are only Canadian teams – they’ll play each other 9-10 times apiece. As of now, the league says it hopes that all teams can play in their respective arenas, but that’s still up in the air per county, state and provincial authorities. League officials have said there may be a need for a hybrid type of bubble depending on how things go with COVID-19.

Four of the top seven teams in regards to points percentage from last season are in the Rangers’ division. Those teams are the Bruins, Capitals, Flyers and Penguins. Plus, there are the Isles, who made it to the Eastern Conference Final before succumbing to eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Rangers did draft and sign the No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreineiere along with retaining some key free agents. However, the Buffalo Sabres added Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils added goalie and former Stanely Cup champion Corey Crawford. Needless to say, wins and points are going to be at a premium. The Rangers have their work cut out for them and need to hit the ground running if they want to find themselves in the playoffs. That being said, the top four teams from each division will make the postseason.

The Taxi Squad

NHL lineups are going to have a “taxi squad” this season. The NHL and NHLPA agreed to a 23-man roster and an $81.5 million salary cap for all teams. They also announced there will be a four to six-man taxi squad. All 27-29 players will practice and travel with the team and the taxi squad players will be paid their full AHL salary. Plus there’s also a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) clause that allows for emergency call-ups. Players can be sent up and down without having to clear waivers if that’s their case. That means you’ll probably see a great deal of salary cap maneuvering throughout the season.

Forever a Blueshirt

Henrik Lundqvist is no longer a Rangers goaltender. But, he’ll always be a Blueshirt in the minds of Rangers fans. Unfortunately, he announced a few days ago that he won’t be able to play for the Capitals in the 2020-21 season. The future Hall of Famer signed with the Caps during the offseason after the Rangers bought out the final year of his contract. He’s been working extremely hard preparing for the upcoming season and is obviously devasted that he can’t play due to an undisclosed medical condition.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist (Photo: Jim Cerny/The Hockey Writers)

Now that we’ve got a vision for what the 2020-21 NHL season is going to look like and the Rangers know their opponents for the full 56-game schedule, it’s time to focus on training camp and hitting the ice with a vengeance. The Rangers are poised to do some great thing in the coming years and it all starts now.