During John Tortorella’s Dog Walk yesterday morning, there was a special Q and A session with the coaching staff. One of the major questions was about the status of defenseman Michael Sauer, to which Torts responded the following:
”I don’t think you’ll see Michael. Michael hasn’t responded that well—I’ll be quite honest—I do not think you’ll see him at the beginning of the season.”
Obviously this has a negative impact on the Rangers plan for the blue line. With Sauer, the Rangers blue line is one of –if not the– best in the league. Without him, they are relying on the development of Stu Bickel into what Sauer was. Plausible, but not ideal. This is something Torts again acknowledged when addressing this question:
That’s a big hole for us. Michael played very well for us, and we certainly missed him during the playoff run. I think it’s going to be a little bit of time before Michael resumes his career.
Torts hits the nail on the head with this quote. Sauer not only fills a need for a bottom-four pairing defenseman, but he is also a right-handed shot, something the Rangers are lacking.
With the CBA status currently up in the air, the Rangers have not gone ahead and filled this void left by Sauer. They likely won’t fill it until they figure out what the new salary cap will be.
Then again, a lockout might really benefit the Rangers. The more time they have without games, the more time Sauer has to get healthy. This appears to be the same situation the organization was in with Marc Staal last season. The big difference: Sauer has a concussion history. Multiple concussions are dangerous, and could really affect a career. Hopefully Sauer makes a Staal-like recovery.