It's April 16, 2016.
The Rangers have been defeated in the 2nd round by the London Knights in 4 straight. The only loose end to be tied up is being done so now. The 2015-16 Rangers' awards. A time for lots of fond memories of a year that was a a very somber time where we realize that many current players will not be ever seen on the Memorial Auditorium ice again.
There's much reflection and then a look forward at the upcoming season. One where the Rangers hope to "re-tool" or "re-load" and not the dreaded "rebuild."
Overagers: Brian Brosnan, Miles Liberati and power forward Brandon Robinson won't be returning, that much we know. At the awards ceremony we find out that Gustaf Franzen has also seen his last action in a Rangers' jersey. The departure of captain and third-year top pivot Ryan MacInnis is already assumed at this point and suddenly we're already looking at a gap down the middle at the top of the Rangers' lineup.
If the chips fall right for the Rangers, they could finish as high as 6th next year. If they fall right . . .. . .
A little over 3 week's later. Head coach Mike Van Ryn resigns. After one very successful year heading up the bench the Rangers are without their head coach.
Luke Opilka after struggling down the stretch goes for hip surgery, he will return, but not in time for the beginning of the 2016-2017 season.
There's rumblings that Jeremy Bracco could be returned from the Leafs which would be a big boost going into camp. However there's also a blow to the team as Lias Andersson will not be able to suit up for the Rangers, though Andersson was the Rangers' second round import pick, he was thought to be more OHL ready than Cedric Schiemenz, also a year older.
Nick Magyar and David Miller do not fit into the team's plans, nor budget for overage spots, and there's no return for either overager whom were eligible to return.
The list of Rangers' losses from the previous season now totals:
Other losses from the previous season through season-ending injuries or trades:
Frank Hora bolsters the blueline returning in Sarnia. However, the Rangers would lose Connor Hall for the season in Sarnia weeks later after starting the season without the big defender.
After returning from injury, the Rangers would lose another of their heavyweight blueliners in Doug Blaisdell for the duration of the season. Two of the bright spots in the early season were the play of 17-year-old rookie and 15th rounder Dylan Seitz and the play of free agent netminder: Chris McGonigle in Luke Opilka's absence. McGonigle's returns wouldn't last as he would also be lost for the season. The Rangers' excess in overagers had them scratching scoring 5th year centre Darby Llewellyn from the lineup frequently to play Dawson Carty until Carty was dispatched to the Hamilton Bulldogs near the trade deadline.
The trade deadline saw the Rangers part way with three veteran forwards seeking compensation mainly in the way of picks for 19-year-old's: Bracco, Cascagnette, and Kohn.
Leaving the team with only the following players who would have been playing against the London Knights in April of 2016:
Joseph Garreffa (only dressed for one post-season game)
Nick McHugh (3 games of action in the post-season)
Jake Henderson (5 of 9 games dressed in post-season)
Elijiah Roberts (5 of 9 games dressed in post-season)
Luke Opilka (less than one period of post-season action)
I think that the team spoiled us with early-season successes, and despite limping to the finish line to finish 6th in the conference may have over-achieved given some of the stumbling stones that have been in this team's way. If you had told me about trading the three 19-year-olds, not being able to utilize one of the imports and the state of this team's goaltending with the injuries and the trade while I was attending last season's award ceremony, my projections on this season would be very, very dark. Not much to look forward to.
Instead the Rangers have finished respectively in an extremely tough conference, and they've done so with a lineup that's much younger than I would have projected and with picks in the bank. I'm not always the optimist, but I'm rating the season as glass half-full. The post-season?? I'm hoping that this group can put something together to build on next year.
Tom Conaway circa 2000 - "At times goals were harder to come by than teachers at a Mike Harris pep rally."
Updates: Final Exhibition stats posted, game summary for Sep 14th game in Barrie