Yes I said it. Dan Girardi, defensive stud, needs to be given the kudos that he deserves for, so far, playing an outstanding season. I’ll be the first to admit that given his underwhelming season last year, the new deal he got over the summer was too much, in fact far too much, or so I thought. I don’t often write my posts in the first person tense but this one is such a case because I’m admitting I am wrong. So far, 18 games into the year, and Dan Girardi has earnt every single penny of that new deal.
Rangers General Manager Glen Sather has received a lot of stick over the years (much of it justified) and will never win a popularity contest in New York even if there’s a certain parade going down the canyon of heroes in the next few years, however a lot of his moves over the last year or two have been savvy and impressive, and its beginning to look like Dan Girardi’s new deal is another one of those smart moves.
This year Girardi has started to become a workhorse. He has averaged almost 25 minutes per game (13th in the entire league), has 9 points in 18 games (which is 40 point pace), while being on course for close to 200 hits for the season. Then there are the blocked shots. The Rangers have had a pretty successful season so far in part because of their ability to block shots. Dan Girardi leads the entire league with 39 thus far and is on course to get over 150 for the season. In short, Girardi is doing everything for the Rangers. Some of my criticism’s of Girardi last year was his positioning and his consistency; well, this season Girardi has been the epitome of consistency and is maturing into a quiet, lead-by-example type of leader for the Rangers.
Now, one season does not a $3.325m player make. However the signs are promising that Girardi can be the dependable two way player that rarely makes the headlines but that every team needs. Marc Staal may end up competing for Norris’s, Mike Del Zotto may end up competing for defenceman scoring titles but these players need to know they have the support required to do so and Girardi is just that. If he continues the way he has played this season Girardi can be to the Rangers and Staal what Brent Seabrook is to the Hawks and Duncan Keith and I can promise you that when Seabrook negotiates his next deal in the summer, he’ll cost a lot more than Girardi did last summer. The Hawks may well struggle to keep him. Signed for 3.325m up until 2014 Girardi will begin to represent excellent value for the Rangers if he keeps developing and it’s been a long time since the Rangers could crow about having a lot of good value contracts on their roster. Thank you Dan Girardi, but also thank you Glen.