Dilemma Facing the Rangers?

January 24, 2012, by

With injuries still lingering on the Rangers blue line (including Sauer’s recent setback on his road to recovery), the Rangers have an interesting choice to make. Larry Brooks recently discussed the notion of the Rangers acquiring a defenseman in the coming weeks. It makes sense that they would consider it, but exactly what type of defenseman they go after is another issue altogether – and here is where the dilemma lies.

According to Brooks, the Rangers have supposedly long held Tim Gleason in high regard, but he should only be an option if Sauer is out for the season. The Rangers need to decide sooner rather than later, whether they want help for the powerplay or depth (and size?) on the blue line.

The Rangers have had a great season so far and the way the defense has collectively played over their talent level because of the injuries on the back end suggest they can do so for a while longer. However, this team cannot go deep in the playoffs with the way the powerplay is performing this season. So often in the post season it’s a good, tight defense and great special teams that win you games and playoff series.

The Rangers have the stingy defense, they have an excellent penalty kill, but they have failed to win a few games this season because of their inadequate power play; which brings us back to the dilemma facing the Rangers. Brooks is absolutely right that the team should acquire a blueliner. However, what kind of blueliner they go and acquire could be critical. It could have a massive impact on just how successful this season could be.

If the decision goes in favour of an offensive defenseman then there are a few options available, however, all come with an element of risk. The likely available players include Marek Zidlicky (former Ranger draft pick) who has been a consistent 40 point defenseman in his career but has been in the Minnesota Wild doghouse this year. So far he has failed to repeat his usual power play production and carries a $4m contract for next year.

The Avalanche, who have been very inconsistent this season, could make Kyle Quincey available.  He is another player capable of putting up points and the Av’s already have Erik Johnson. Quincey likely holds more appeal than Zidlicky, as he is a restricted free agent after this season.

Then there are the kind of players the Rangers are routinely linked to such as Sheldon Souray. Big shot, short term contract, but he didn’t impress the Rangers enough to pick him up on waivers during his time with Edmonton, so has half a season in Dallas changed their opinion? Unlikely.

The Rangers decision on the type of defenseman they (may) go after would likely be influenced by the quality available. This is where the problem lies as most players available come with significant question marks. So while the Rangers may indeed go after a blueliner the choice is far from an obvious one at this stage of the season.


  1. Blueshirt in Paris says:

    If Sauer is out long term then we should look for blueline help but the main quality should be someone who can defend first.

    Really dont understand this “Rangers wont go far with the PP” talk. Boston had a worse PP in last years playoffs. Rangers are avg 15% (18% on home) on the PP.

    Do you know what the difference is in goals for a 15%pp compared to a 20%pp over a 7 game series? 1.4 goals. If we lose a 7 game series because of 1.4 goals you can bet we got outplayed 5 on 5.

    • The Suit says:

      I have to disagree with you a little here BiP. While the Bruins certainly succeeded without an elite power play last season, using them is a bit propitious.

      If we are going to throw around stats, since the lockout only 2 of the 12 teams to make it to the finals have had power plays clicking below 18% during the regular season.

      The Bruins (17%) were one and the ’09 Penguins (16%) were the other. The Rangers PP is 14.5% and sliding.

      Dice it up however you want, but the Rangers chances would be a lot better if they started to at least look like they could score some PP goals.

      • Chris says:

        Well said. At the end of the day, the PP is by far this team’s biggest weakness. You address the short falls and maybe you have a contender.

      • Blueshirt in Paris says:

        I was responding to the comment that you can’t go deep in the playoffs with at 15%pp. How is using an example of a team that has gone deep with a 11%pp (5% on the road) propitious? Especially a team that is very similar to how we play.

        Our special teams, even with our terrible powerplay, is still on the plus side. If it stays on the plus side then it will be 5on5 hockey that that would be the major factor in winning series.

        Of course it would be great to score more on the PP but at what expense? Lose goals up front on 5on5 due to a trade? Replace a dman for someone who is less responsible in their own end just for the PP?

        Honestly, how many defensmen on the market would come in and instantly add 5% to the PP? Is our problem on the PP really a personal issue that will be cured by this one addition? I don’t think so.

        I respect your opinion but I am just not buying the whole we can’t win without a better PP argument. If we can add somebody that will make us a better 5on5 team and also help the PP I am for it. But just to target someone solely for the PP is not playing towards our strengths as a team.

        • The Suit says:

          I wasn’t speaking to any specific trades. I was speaking specifically to your first comment, which more or less came off to me as the Rangers can go far without help on the power play because Boston did.

          Look, I am not saying we can’t win without a better PP, obviously we’ve been doing just that all season. I just think as Chris said, the PP is a problem and at some point it needs to be fixed if we legitimately fancy ourselves as contenders for the Cup.

          Teams that produce 5on5 & on special teams have a better chance. That’s all.

          • Blueshirt in Paris says:

            Fair enough.

            I was just trying to put in perspective that the post is talking about making a trade for a few percentage points on 15% that accounts for maybe 20% of a game and how that equates to actual goals.

            I agree it’s an issue, we are not a perfect team and it is an area where we can improve. But I don’t think adding one player will resolve it. It seems to be an execution problem.

            • The Suit says:

              I know, I hear ya brother. All we can hope for is that MDZ & McD can grow into those types of players that we need.

              The Penguins power play looks so much better with Letang on it. Likewise with Karlsson on Ottawa.

              • Blueshirt in Paris says:

                But in general doesn’t it seem like a lot of power plays are struggling this year? Are PK’s being more aggressive? Other dynamics at work?

                Only 4 teams are over 20% this year compared to 6 in 10-11, 7 in 09-10, 9 in 08-09.

                Also, do you think it is just luck that has us converting 18% at home (t. for 13th in the league) compared to 10% on the road?

              • The Suit says:

                Penalty killing has definitely gotten more sophisticated over the last several years. Teams just aren’t collapsing four guys to the net as much. So the overall threshold seems to be moving down…but with that said, most of the teams that have the ability to create offense on the advantage are doing so with elite puck movers. Not so much with “blasts from the point,” just with guys who can disrupt coverages by making the right play and reading the situations.

                When penalty killers get aggressive with us, we make bad decisions with the puck. When pkers get aggressive with Letang, Erik, Green, D.Boyle, Duncan, Weber, Suter, etc. they make them look stupid for even trying. Hopefully our kids can get to that point one day, but it will take time.

  2. The Suit says:

    I think it might be a little too early to be acquiring blueline help, especially since we have some depth there once Eminger & Sauer return.

    Of the names mentioned, none of them really impress me, as they don’t play in systems similar to ours and their skating is subpar to what’s needed from our d-men.

    Brooks may be stretching here.

    • Chris says:

      I tend to agree with you; there’s not a huge amount of offensive blue line help out there – but its a greater need in my opinion, than a Gleason type.

      • The Suit says:

        Yea I don’t get the Gleason mention at all. Is he really much of an upgrade over Eminger, especially at another $2 million?


        • RangerSmurf says:

          Gleason’s a much better player than Eminger. It’s not even really close. He’s basically a poor-man’s Girardi or a slightly better version of Sauer.

          I don’t see them acquiring him, but he’s an instant upgrade over the 3rd pair/7th guys, and certainly worth the extra coin.

          • The Suit says:

            He’s a solid player, no doubt, but he’s isn’t a great skater and that’s a must for this system. Plus $2.7M for another defensive dman is not a need…especially since he’s not leap frogging our top 4 dmen.

            • RangerSmurf says:

              It’s a need if Sauer’s going to be out. God love MDZ this year, but he’d benefit greatly by going down to 3rd pair competition at even strength.

        • Dave says:

          Depends on what Gleason costs. McCabe went for Tim Kennedy and a 3rd. If Gleason comes for Tenk and a 3rd…I pull the trigger.

  3. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Jeff Schultz of Washington looks like an option as well. So does James Wysnewski and Jason Garrison

    • Chris says:

      no way do they take on the contract Wisniewski signed with Columbus, too much $ tied in to the blue line then. Especially with McD MDZ contracts up soon…

      • The Suit says:

        Agreed and Schultz has two more years on his contract.

        Garrison is a decent option (last year at $675K), but I imagine FLA probably wants to lock him up.

  4. pavel says:

    Can we just trade Mike Sullivan away? That’s the only way I see the powerplay getting any better.

  5. Jay says:

    What about the rumor of Teemu Selanne? Wouldn’t that help the PP unit plus a veteran presence like Mark Recchi did last year. Of course they would need to add a defenseman as well. I still hold my breath evertime Marc Staal gives/takes a hit.

  6. Chris F says:

    This team cannot invest anything in a D-man. Period.

    We have Girardi and Staal, who will undoubtedly return to his superstar form by playoff time barring any unforeseen re-occurence of concussion symptoms.

    We have McDonagh, who has played a complete shutdown style of play, and MDZ, who has had a tremendous rebound from last year and is playing with a near perfect balance of solid defensive positioning and offensive awareness.

    Then, we’ll have Bickel and Sauer’s toughness, and Eminger, Stralman and Woywitka’s secondary abilities.

    Once Suaer and Eminger return, the Rangers have incredible defensive depth.

    What’s more, we have world-class goaltending and a group of defensive minded forwards who back-check and block shots with the best of them.

    Defense isn’t the issue. We need more goals, more scoring, more puck possession. We need another playmaking forward if we’re going to make any deals.

    • Michael says:

      Chris is right – With Girardi, McDonaugh, Staal, MDZ, Sauer, and Erixon all looking like they might be capable elite-top 4 D-men who play well together with Stralman and Eminger in tow and McIlrath waiting in the wings why on earth would we want another D-man? Personally I’m hoping the first 5 in that list can be had long term at an affordable price.

      I would consider shuffling off some depth and some inconsistent roster players (Anisimov, Boyle or Dubinsky) and bringing in another proven scorer who should be able to fit into the system. Iginla, Ryan, Selanne, Doan, Parise, and possibly St. Louis are the guys I would be kicking the tires on as they may be available and will immediately create scoring opportunities for themselves and the rest of the team.

  7. Gmen says:

    How about we all come to our senses here. Look what happened with the sloth skating McCabe last year. He was supposed to help our PP. What a disaster as you all know. One guy is not going to help the PP unless all five guys have chemistry and are clicking. Until the Rangers play the PP like they know what they’re doing, they are going to continue to not get good scoring opportunities,
    let alone goals. They can’t even get good setup time, and that is more important than getting fluky PP goals. Teams obviously know their PP stinks, so they are mostly going to pressure the point men until the opposing team gets burned, and realize they have to be more patient. Lets be smart here, and not give up a 2nd/3rd round pick or both for a rental that will come back to hurt us.

  8. RealRangerFan says:

    Brooks is just about never right. If the Rangers win, it is because of defense and Henrik. To move out any solid defensive d-man for an offensive one is just stupid. Brooks is delusional.