With one single article, Katie Strang of ESPN New York sent all of New York into a frenzy. Per his agent, the Rangers “might” be looking at Paul Mara as a veteran defenseman. One simple sentence, and every single Ranger fan was questioning the health of Marc Staal. I have to admit, it was kind of funny to witness on Twitter.
Yes, the Staal concussion is a concern, but it is not a big concern yet, and it is not something the Rangers would really be planning around at this stage, especially because Staal partook in practice yesterday. He is not going to scrimmage or play in preseason games for a week or so, but he is at least on the ice and taking part in Camp Torts. Reading between the lines here, I don’t think a Mara signing would be because of Staal’s injury.
In fact, I think it would be an insurance policy against Tim Erixon and/or Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto has been having a relatively rough camp, per the beat writers. Erixon has been looking very smooth, but he’s still a kid, and nothing is guaranteed. For the sake of this post, let’s assume one isn’t ready, and none of the kids are ready to assume a full time role. That thrusts Steve Eminger, who is having a strong camp, into a regular defenseman role.
All of a sudden, the Rangers are without a seventh defenseman. That gives them little flexibility in case of an injury, especially because in this scenario, the other kids further down on the depth chart aren’t ready. Insert a veteran presence as a seventh defenseman in Mara to serve as the seventh guy.
Remember, the roster on October 1 is never the roster on April 1. It may not even be the roster on January 1 either. Last year is a perfect example. With a rash of injuries, the Rangers were forced to promote Mike Sauer to top-four duties, and call up the most ready of the AHL defensemen in Ryan McDonagh. Both exceeded expectations, so they traded Michal Rozsival.
Of course, that is one scenario, and no two scenarios are the same. In this case, since Mara is demanding a NHL contract, it is unlikely that he signs with the Rangers. That’s a very good thing, since Mara is unfortunately a shell of his former self, and it mostly has to do with his skating. He simply can’t keep up anymore, and it’s the reason why he went unsigned this offseason. He can’t skate, he can’t pivot, and he just gets burned by faster skaters now. The beard is glorious, but the feet are not. If anything, I would be bet that his agent is name dropping to boost his value.