Mike Sauer remains day to day but with a concussion the Rangers are likely to be very careful with the ever improving defenseman. That brings in to focus the current defensive corps and the (lack of) depth the Rangers currently have on the big club. Your bottom three defenseman should not be named Steve Eminger, Jeff Woywitka and Anton Stralman. Especially when you have Mike Del Zotto in the top six improving but still developing. The Rangers need to look at other options in case Sauer misses extended time.
Sauer out brings us to the Rangers options on the farm. It’s highly unlikely (barring an extended losing streak) that the Rangers will go outside of the organisation. If that was an option at this stage, they may already have added another player. However, depending on the style the Rangers want to play there are two options in Connecticut; Pavel Valentenko and Tim Erixon.
While Erixon has already accumulated some NHL time with the Rangers (and certainly didn’t embarrass himself), this may be the perfect opportunity to see whether Valentenko really has what it takes to make the Rangers in the near future. Questionable skating ability seems to have held back Valentenko so far but with the greatest respect to Jeff Woywitka – and especially Steve Eminger – at least short term, trying out Valentenko can’t be any worse than the aforementioned two options.
If the Russian fails you can plan without him beyond the season. If he adds stability or physicality and holds his own in the line-up you know you have another asset to work with even if/when he would be demoted upon Sauer and (or) Staal’s returns.
Tim Erixon will be a future staple on the blue line in the future and his play (particularly offensively) appears to be improving with the Whale as we speak – much like McDonagh’s game got better throughout last year in the AHL. However, the Rangers should think carefully about taking a look at their rugged Russian blue liner while they still have a chance to do so. With the Rangers defense getting it done by committee this season it can’t do too much harm to throw another name in to the mix.