The New York Rangers were well represented on the podium of the IIHF World Championships as Braden Schneider took home the gold medal with Team Canada. In contrast, Colin Blackwell, Zac Jones, and Kevin Rooney all took home bronze with Team USA.
It may seem like an oxymoron to say that Canada had a miracle run to the title, but that is just what this was. The hockey capital of the world started the tournament 0-3 but won every game from that point en route to a 3-2 overtime win over Finland. The head coach of Canada, Gerard Gallant, has been atop the names mentioned in the Rangers coaching search for quite some time now. The adjustments made when his team faltered out of the gate proved pivotal in a wild tournament run.
Schneider finished the tournament with one assist in nine games played, while Blackwell tallied four goals and Jones registered three assists throughout the World Championships. Jones also finished as one of the top three tournament players for the United States, showcasing why the Rangers are so high on his upside on the backend.
Accolades Upon Accolades for Braden Schneider
After being selected 19th overall by the Rangers in the 2020 NHL Draft, Schneider has continually opened eyes to his performance in the WHL, AHL, and internationally this season. The 6-foot-2 defenseman took home a silver at the World Juniors early this campaign, but recently, the accolades have started to come in at warp speed.
Schneider was named the best defenseman in the Western Hockey League’s East Division just one week ago, but this week, he was named the Western Hockey League’s Defenseman of the Year. Following up an IIHF World Championship gold medal with the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy is truly a special week for the young blueliner.
Schneider finished the WHL season with five goals and 22 assists for 27 points. The rather unpopular move to trade up and draft Schneider over the available centers is slowly starting to seem like a steal by former Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton.
Although he will likely start next season with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the American Hockey League, Schneider is making gigantic strides towards his NHL debut. The only question remaining for Schneider is whether that NHL debut will come with a diagonal Rangers on his sweater or the crest of another NHL franchise?
Coaching Search Gets Interesting for Rangers
If you had to tab a favorite for the Rangers coaching vacancy, the common answer would be Gallant. The former Vegas Golden Knights head coach has been around for quite some time and showed that he still has what it takes with Canada’s gold medal run at the World Championships. Rick Tocchet also has a legitimate chance of landing the Rangers job as he has been interviewed twice by GM Chris Drury and co.
But new developments in the coaching search have come to light courtesy of the NY Post’s Larry Brooks.
Gerard Gallant remains the leader in the clubhouse, but Rangers president-general manager Chris Drury is waiting to see if there is fallout from second-round playoff series that could free up another candidate or two to succeed David Quinn behind the bench, according to several individuals familiar with the team’s coaching search.(from ‘ These playoff coaches could impact Gerard Gallant’s Rangers status’ from Larry Brooks of the NY Post – 06/08/21)
By fallout, Brooks is referencing second-round eliminations. The Tampa Bay Lightning just skated past the Carolina Hurricanes in five games, officially ending head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s contract. Brind’Amour is a free agent seemingly headed back to Carolina, barring anything drastic, but you can best believe the Rangers will be kicking the tires on him.
Brooks also points out that if the Colorado Avalanche falls to the Knights, Jared Bednar’s future could be murky. After holding a 2-0 series lead and a 2-0 lead in game five, the Avalanche now faces elimination at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Thursday night. Per Brooks, the Rangers have also shown interest in Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets and Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins.
Although all of these coaches could easily never hit the open market, Drury is doing his due diligence to find the best possible coach for this young Rangers team. It still appears to be Gallant’s job to lose, but there are many viable candidates out there, making this integral decision a very uneasy one for the Rangers’ new GM.
Fox A Finalist for the Norris
Adam Fox has officially been announced as a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, which is handed out annually to the NHL’s best defenseman. The other two finalists are Victor Hedman and Cale Makar, both of whom are extremely qualified in their own right.
Fox has a legitimate claim to the Norris this season after posting 47 points in 55 games, good for the second-highest total in the league. He averaged 24:42 seconds of ice time per game and was integral in the Rangers’ late-season push for a playoff spot.
Do you think Fox has a chance to take home the 2020-21 Norris Trophy? Leave your thoughts below!
Brendan Azoff is a THW contributor and podcast host dedicated to covering the New York Rangers. His passion for hockey started when he first laced up the skates at three, growing into his love for writing and talking about the greatest sport in the world. His podcast, The Backcheck, breaks down the Rangers, Islanders, and NHL news and can be found on The Hockey Writers Podcast Network and Belly Up Sports. Brendan has been writing about the Rangers and the NHL for over two years, with his content also found on Puck Prose, Blue Line Station, and E2G Sports. If you want to connect with Brendan and stay up-to-date on his posts, follow him on Twitter. He is always available for content ideas and interviews, don’t be afraid to ask!