Ulf Samuelsson’s potential impact on the defense

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

New assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson will likely be in charge of the defense, much the way Mike Sullivan was in charge of the defense last season. A noted tough guy/fighter during his playing days, Samuelsson was also incredibly sound defensively and a reliable top-four defenseman for the Whalers, Penguins, and Rangers. Samuelsson spent five years as an assistant with Phoenix, where he had a profound impact on the young defensemen.

Among those that Samuelsson tutored in Phoenix (that are still there): Keith Yandle, Zbynek Michalek, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and David Schlemko. Yandle has already solidified himself as a top pairing defenseman, and OEL might turn into one of the best defensemen in the league (at worst, he’s a top-four guy). Other guys to pass through Phoenix during Samuelsson’s tenure: Ed Jovanovski, Keith Ballard, and Derek Morris. That’s some track record for a five year assistant coach.

With the Rangers, Samuelsson will have the opportunity to work with veterans like Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Anton Stralman. He will also be given the opportunity to help develop Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, and John Moore. His experience in Phoenix included a wide range of defensemen, so there are few questions about whether he is qualified for the job.

Although this is already one of the top defensive units in the league, there is always room for improvement. The next step for someone like McDonagh is to add more offense to his game, while MDZ could use some more consistency. These are both areas where Samuelsson excelled with Phoenix, developing Yandle into a top-15 defenseman in the game. The effect won’t be immediate, but the addition of Samuelsson will be one that will help long-term.

5 Responses to “Ulf Samuelsson’s potential impact on the defense”

  1. Spozo says:

    I’m excited to see what Ulf can do with Mclrath over the next couple of seasons.

  2. Walt says:

    Same for me as Spozo stated, along with helping MDZ become a better all around d-man. The person who probably get the most from Ulf is Moore, still young, and hasn’t really developed too many bad habits, he could be a stud down the road!!

  3. Bloomer says:

    Not sure if there is good chemistry between AV and Ulfie. 2 different coaching styles. I am not convinced it will work out. Time will tell.

  4. tomb says:

    I think Ulfie will have little contact with Mcilrath this year. he is far from ready. I bet he spends the whole year in the AHL.

    MsDonagh, Staal, Girardi, Moore, Del Zotto, Stralman, Falk, Johnson. That’s pretty solid.

    I think another year in Hartford will be the best move for McIlrath. I really like our defense though and I am psyched about the new coaching staff.

    I think Kristo, Fast, Miller, Lindberg, Hrivik and others will get a long look in camp.

  5. supermaz says:

    I think MDZ is a lost cause and should be sent packing asap. Before the rest of the league realizes what most of us already know.