Rangers Midseason Report Card: Grading every player and head coach Peter Laviolette

The Rangers battled through their fair share of ups and downs during the first half of the season, but they find themselves sitting among the top teams in hockey at the All-Star break.

New York built up enough of an early cushion that despite their rough month of January, they hold a two-point advantage over the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 30-16-3.

Some players have shined in their first four months under new head coach Peter Laviolette, and others have struggled.

Here’s how the Rangers grade out midway through the 2023-24 season…


Artemi Panarin: A+

After a quiet showing in last year's playoffs, Panarin has come back with a vengeance and has been producing incredible numbers.

The winger has not only been the Rangers’ top performer -- he’s been one of the top players in all of hockey, and has himself in the Hart Trophy conversation.

Panarin ranks fifth in the league with 30 goals, two shy of his career-high just 49 games into the season. He has 66 points, 22 of which have come with the man advantage.

Vincent Trocheck: A+
Alexis Lafreniere: B

Two of the biggest beneficiaries from Panarin’s incredible play have been his new linemates.

Trocheck has been New York’s second-best forward, earning his second All-Star game appearance. 

The 30-year-old has been a top center in hockey and is on pace for career-highs across the board with a stellar 61.8 face-off win percentage, 15 goals, 31 assists, and 46 points through 49 games.

Lafreniere has received an extended look in the top six with Laviolette behind the bench, and he’s thrived playing alongside two of the team’s premier talents, producing 29 points (12 goals and 17 assists) through 49 games.

While he has struggled to finish some of his high-leverage scoring chances of late, there’s no denying the 22-year-old has looked more confident and comfortable.

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) is greeted by defenseman Ryan Lindgren (55) and center Mika Zibanejad (93) after scoring a goal in the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden.

Mika Zibanejad: C+
Chris Kreider: B+

With a revolving door on their opposite wing, New York’s top-line dynamic duo has struggled to get going.

Zibanejad has shown flashes of his true All-Star form, producing 15 goals (seven on the power play) and 31 assists over the first 48 games, but he hasn’t been as consistent as usual for the Rangers.

Kreider has been heating up after a bit of a slow start, with six points over his last five games, and he remains one of the top net-front presences in the league with nine more power-play goals this season to set a new Rangers franchise record.

They’ve both shown spurts, but New York is going to need more consistent play from these two at even strength if they hope to make a long playoff run.

Kaapo Kakko: C

Speaking of that revolving door on the top line, Kakko received the first opportunity alongside Kreider and Zibanejad this season, but he was demoted after producing just three points over the team’s first 11 games.

Back in the bottom six, the former second overall pick wasn’t able to snap out of his funk as he quickly saw his ice time reduced.

Kakko missed 21 games after suffering a lower-body injury in a game against the Buffalo Sabres in late November. He scored in just his second game back, but aside from that, hasn’t been able to get much else going offensively.

New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period at Madison Square Garden

The young winger reportedly finds himself on the trade block after producing just five goals and an assist through 28 games.

Blake Wheeler: B-

Wheeler looked a step behind to start the season, slotting in on the top line in place of Kakko, but he’s quickly settled into a groove in the bottom six. After scoring just five goals over the first three months of the season, the 37-year-old winger looked more like himself in January, finding the back of the net four times and adding an assist.

Wheeler has certainly lost a step and doesn’t look capable of playing top-line minutes anymore, but he’s filled in just fine in his current role, especially when you consider he’s being paid the veteran minimum.

Jimmy Vesey: B-

After being scratched on opening night, Vesey has quickly earned his way as a key figure at the bottom of New York's lineup. The fourth-line winger has nine goals, three of which were game-winners, and nine assists through 47 games.

Will Cuylle: A

Cuylle started the season with Hartford but was quickly recalled and has provided the Rangers with the exact type of player they’ve needed in their bottom six. The rookie has brought a whole new element to this team, leading them with 128 hits while also contributing 14 points.

Cuylle gives 110 percent each time he takes the ice, which is exactly why he should be one of the favorites for this year’s Steven McDonald Extra Effort award.

Barclay Goodrow, Tyler Pitlick, Nick Bonino: D

Aside from Cuylle, the rest of New York’s bottom six has been extremely disappointing for the most part, with the trio listed above producing a combined three goals and 13 points.

Bonino was sent down to Hartford after going unclaimed on waivers, and the 32-year-old Pitlick may not be far behind him if his struggles continue since he is also on a one-year pact.

Goodrow, on the other hand, is in the midst of a six-year deal which continues to look worse and worse for New York. Despite coming off back-to-back 30+ point campaigns, his only real value this year has come on the penalty kill.

GM Chris Drury will certainly be looking to upgrade this group before the trade deadline.

Oct 14, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (23) shoots the puck up ice against the Dallas Stars during the second period at Madison Square Garden.


Adam Fox: A-
Ryan Lindgren: B+

This dynamic duo remains New York’s best defensive pairing. Fox struggled a bit after missing time due to a lower-body injury, but the star blue-liner has settled right back in, recording 12 points (four goals, eight assists) over the final 10 games before the All-Star break.

Lindgren hasn’t produced much offensively -- putting up just seven points -- but he continues to be a hard-nosed and fearless defenseman, ranking fourth on the team with 60 blocked shots.

Jacob Trouba: B-
K’Andre Miller: C+

New York’s second defensive pairing has had a bit of an up-and-down season. Miller put together a strong offensive stretch in December, finding the back of the net four times, but he hasn’t looked the same since stepping away from the team last month due to personal reasons.

Trouba has taken a step back offensively but he continues to lead and set the tone with his fearlessness and physicality. In his second year as team captain, the 29-year-old sits atop the club with 142 blocked shots while also ranking second with 112 hits.

Erik Gustafsson: B
Braden Schneider: B

Gustafsson has come back down to earth after a scorching start to the season, but you’ll certainly take four goals and 19 assists from a guy who is signed to a one-year deal on the veteran minimum.

The 22-year-old Schneider is finally receiving an opportunity to play alongside a higher-quality talent on New York’s last defensive pairing, and he’s on pace to top his career marks in goals, assists, and points.

Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin
Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin / Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports


Igor Shesterkin: C+
Jonathan Quick: A-

Shesterkin made his third consecutive All-Star game, but he’s struggled mightily after battling a lower-body injury earlier this year.

The one-time Vezina Trophy winner is coming off a brutal stretch, losing three of his last five outings and posting a 3.25 GAA in January. Shesterkin has flashed his dominant form at times, but he’s been very inconsistent -- and his .899 save percentage is the lowest of his career.

If Shesterkin’s struggles continue out of the break, perhaps Quick could see more playing time.

Quick was brought in as a cheap backup and veteran presence for Shesterkin, but the 38-year-old has surprisingly been the better New York goalie to this point.

After a rough showing last year with the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights, Quick has bounced back to put together a .915 save percentage, 2.43 GAA, 10 wins, and a pair of shutouts through 17 appearances.


Peter Laviolette: B+

While there’s usually a learning curve with a new head coach, the Rangers have quickly taken to Laviolette’s system.

After a rough preseason showing, New York came out on fire to start the regular season. Laviolette’s squad has overcome adversity and hasn’t shied away from any tough task.

With his team vastly outplaying everyone’s expectations, the veteran coach has quickly shown Drury and the rest of the front office that they found the right man for the job.

How they respond to the rough stretch heading into the break is unknown, but if the first few months of the season were any indication of this team's attitude, Laviolette will have this squad ready to roll.

Overall team grade: A-

This grade would’ve been an A+ if not for the rough stretch in January.

Everyone knew this Rangers team had loads of talent and potential, but no one expected them to be this good. As they showed numerous times throughout the first half, when they’re at their best, they can skate with any team in the league.

With that being said, Drury certainly still has some work to do to tighten up this roster ahead of the trade deadline, and they need some big second-half turnarounds from a few of their stars.

The Metropolitan Division is going to be a battle to the end, but New York is looking like one of the premier teams in hockey, and they should have what it takes to put together a deep playoff run.