Rangers preview: Rankings, predictions, playoff chances and more

Henrik Lundqvist may be in for a long season. David Hahn/Icon Sportswire

With the 2018-19 season fast approaching, we're running snapshots of all 31 NHL teams, including point total projections, positional previews, best- and worst-case scenarios and more.

The rebuild has begun in earnest. What should be expected out of the New York Rangers this season?

How they finished in 2017-18: 34-39-9 (77 points), 24th in NHL, eighth in Metropolitan Division

After a candid, if shocking, admission that the team would rebuild, the Rangers dealt away a handful of beloved players -- mostly to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Questions lingered on whether they could whip back into shape in time for Henrik Lundqvist to enjoy one last competitive season.

Over/under projected point total (per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook): 75.5

Best-case scenario: The rebuild is allowed to play out for a season, with a few more familiar names flipped for futures. And then maybe they kick the tires on Artemi Panarin and Erik Karlsson next summer...

Worst-case scenario: The rebuild isn't going great -- because the Rangers are winning. Why is that bad? The team is still not good enough to win it all. New York's status on the playoff bubble prevents GM Jeff Gorton from selling at the deadline for assets, and New York finishes the season without much of a shot at the No. 1 pick (and Jack Hughes).

Forwards overview: Next season should be a showcase for New York's top prospects (Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil), though both may be due for growing pains. The rest of the group is a blend of decent and pedestrian talent. The decent talent may be plucked before the trade deadline. NHL rank: 29th

Defense overview: The top defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk, is returning from a serious injury. Brady Skjei and Neal Pionk have both flexed promise, but the rest is a dreary group. NHL rank: 24th

Goalie overview: All hail King Henrik Lundqvist, the good soldier who must withstand a rebuild in his waning prime. Last season wasn't his best (2.98 goals-against average, .915 save percentage), but he still has the capability to steal a game when he's locked in. Promising prospect Alexandar Georgiev is looking to win the backup job. NHL rank: 19th

Special teams: The Rangers were slightly above league average in penalty kill (12th) and power play (14th) last season. New York's top power-play scorer (Mika Zibanejad, who had 14 goals) and top penalty-killing forward (Kevin Hayes) were saved from last season's purge.

Pipeline overview: The Rangers have made it known they're in a transitional phase that looks more like a reset than a full-on rebuild, but they've been collecting draft picks and prospects over the past few years, and things are starting to really shape up for the team. Having Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov at the top of the pipeline is a huge plus, but there's also a lot lot of upside in K'Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, Brett Howden and Libor Hajek, plus a top goalie prospect in Igor Shestyorkin. Read more -- Chris Peters

Fantasy nugget: There are truly nine players on the squad who wouldn't shock me if they wound up on the Rangers' top line this season. It's a very well-balanced, developing offense that has plenty of assets. Zibanejad and Chris Kreider are the obvious favorites, but both should be taken outside the top 100 at the draft. After that, my top stashes from the offense are Pavel Buchnevich and Chytil. On defense, Shattenkirk may be overlooked coming into the campaign after his injuries last season, but he should be considered an outside shot for D1 value that can be obtained at a discount. Read more -- Sean Allen

Coach on the hot seat? It's Year One for David Quinn, who was hired away from a comfortable job at Boston University to work with the youngsters. It's tough to assign job security for any coach in this market, but he should have some leeway for the next two seasons.

Bold prediction: A few Rangers forwards overachieve in terms of production, the defense isn't as shaky as we feared, and what do you know ... New York is a playoff team. Being that it's the Rangers, they can't help themselves, and get active at the trade deadline, eyeing Matt Duchene or Mark Stone from Ottawa.