Assuming an NHL season begins at some stage this year the Rangers and the entire league will need to get back to work and get ready in double quick time. Camps will be abbreviated, preseason games likely minimal. Players might not be at 100% to begin the shortened season and depth could severely be tested.
It’s the combination of these troubling reasons why many clubs may look for external, short term help in positions of need and in the Rangers case they made need to add a defenseman with legitimate NHL ability. Enter a guy like Paul Ranger.
Once a promising (albeit flawed) defenseman with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ranger has begun a comeback with the Toronto Marlies after an extended break from hockey. And to begin with he’s doing very well. Of course, the Rangers may well turn to Matt Gilroy whose own comeback – of a different kind – isn’t going badly either. However, much has been made of Rangers impressive fitness upon his return and a +7 rating, 6 points in 12 games and impressive size (6’3, 200+ lbs) make him an intriguing option. Oh, and he’s on an AHL only deal with the Marlies so could be tempted with an NHL contract too.
The Rangers could probably do with the depth. They could probably do with the additional scoring Ranger could add (two seasons of +25 points at the NHL level) and he’d likely come cheap. There’s no link to the Rangers at all – merely writer’s suggestion, and this is merely thinking out a loud during a miserable labour stoppage but clubs around the league are likely to be looking for bargains to fill out rosters whenever the league resumes and Ranger could be one.
Of course, he may owe the Leafs organisation a debt of loyalty given that they helped him return to pro hockey in the first place but this post really is about more than Paul Ranger as an individual, he’s just an example. This is about finding players that can help, that can step in straight away and be up to speed (a legitimate concern of John Tortorella’s) and this is about making sure that the Rangers give themselves the best chance at making a cup run whenever the NHL hits the ice.