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Dan Girardi: future career Ranger?

February 11, 2014, by
Dan Girardi: once again, Mr dependable. Photo: McIsaac/Getty

Once again, Mr. Dependable. Photo: McIsaac/Getty

Anyone watching the Rangers to begin the year wouldn’t have foreseen this (individual) turnaround. Anyone paying close attention to the Rangers’ popular no. 5 for most of last year wouldn’t have predicted this scenario either. However, without doubt – thanks to the impressive turnaround in his play – Dan Girardi has become an essential, can’t-be-allowed-to-leave piece of the Rangers puzzle.

Girardi was error prone throughout the Rangers indifferent start to the season. Rather than being part of the solution he was part of the problem. However, the past two months have seen Girardi return to being the indispensible, minute eating, shot blocking rock on the Rangers blueline. Over the past ten games, only three times has Girardi had less than 3 blocked shots. Only twice over the same period has Girardi not being credited with at least two hits. He’s back to his shutdown best.

Girardi’s return to his old form has coincided with the Rangers extended hot streak and has helped the Rangers really develop a core to match even the best teams in the league. With Henrik Lundqvist’s return to form, three capable offensive lines, strong special teams and a dominant top defensive pair (Girardi and Ryan McDonagh), the Rangers are becoming a team no one will want to face come playoff time. This all brings us to the already much discussed free agency and Girardi’s opportunity to cash in.

Barring ridiculous demands out of Girardi’s camp, the Rangers simply have to bring him back. How many teams can boast three players such as Girardi, McDonagh, Marc Staal? It’s an enviable trio of blueliners, none of whom are long in the tooth. Without having to pay more than Girardi would command, there is absolutely no way Girardi can be replaced in free agency, especially as the likes of Dion Phaneuf have already come off the market ahead of the free agent ‘frenzy’.

A look at the pending free agent defensemen suggest underwhelming options (a reason why the recently-strong Anton Stralman also stands to cash-in this summer). Quality defensemen such as Dan Boyle and Andrei Markov will likely be off the market by July and even if they are not, both are well over that dangerous 35th year. Markov also carries great health risk.

Beyond aging veterans such as Boyle, looking for viable alternatives is tricky depending on what you think of players such as Brooks Orpik, Matt Greene or Mark Stuart. A quick scan of the available defenseman would suggest none of the current pending UFA list even comes close to matching Girardi’s defensive game, durability and/or decent offensive output.

Girardi has had a difficult twelve months or so, a period where his form wasn’t what Rangers fans had come accustomed to, but the recent return of the vintage Girardi has made him (once again) indispensable. Girardi isn’t perfect, but whenever you have a top pair blueliner who never gets hurt, eats up minutes and can handle any superstar in the league on any given night, you don’t let him leave. Girardi’s getting paid and it sure as hell needs to be by the Rangers. The Rangers don’t really have another option.

Categories : Defense


  1. Steven Cifuentes says:

    From the reports that are being presented Girardi did not pull a Callahan and ask for the world.

    Give the guy the offer he wants, as it is not a backbreaking deal or Girardi using his leverage.

    Time for Sather to give a little to get Girardi signed.

  2. Walt says:

    If, as stated above, Slats will indeed make that offer!! If Dan wants the world, then we are in deep doo doo! Let’s hope this becomes a done deal ASAP!!!!!

  3. SalMerc says:

    You can’t have enough “shutdown defensemen”. He is one of maybe 20 in the league. He plays 20+ minutes a game, rarely misses a game and adds some toughness to the “D”. Pay the man!

  4. paulronty says:

    Yes Girardi must be signed & I think it will happen before the Olympics are over.

  5. Paco33 says:

    Pay him now, or pay someone else just as much (if not more) to do the same exact thing (a very difficult thing to find to say the least).

    Any team with realistic dreams of a Cup needs a Girardi – a sturdy, solid, dependable, top-pair D-Man.

  6. Dave says:

    Why does Girardi block so many shots? Because he rarely has the puck.

    The time to trade him would have been last year. At this point, I don’t think the Rangers can get solid return for him. Paying him anything north of $5m would be foolish, but what I’m more worried about is giving him more than 5 years.

    • SalMerc says:

      4 years, $18M is palatable

    • Ray says:

      You get to underpay some players and you have to overpay some others. The fact is that Girardi is perhaps the second most crucial Ranger, their first pair right D-man. McDonagh is better certainly – and probably Staal is well, but take away one of those and you still have a great shutdown pair. And the MDZ situation shows you can’t just move guys from left to right. Nor is any of the forwards filling a vital role (except perhaps Richards ironically, because of his PP work). Yes, losing Nash or Zuke would hurt, but not in a team crushing way.

      So you pay Girardi more than he really deserves because of his role. Save the hard bargaining for the replaceable fan favorite who is already overpaid.

    • Spozo says:

      Dave not feeling the love?

      But how many of those blocked shots are on the PK?

      I’m torn on this whole thing with Cally and Girardi. Part of me thinks if Sather doesn’t pay these guys a little, how else is he going to spend that money? If he goes to free agency and tries to replace them with similar players (top pairing RH defenseman, Cally had 29 goals a couple seasons ago) he’s going to have to overpay those guys as well. And probably by a lot. Just look at what David Clarkson got last year. I think I’d rather overpay these guys and hope it is less of an overpayment than he would spend replacing them. Does that make sense?

    • Leetch says:

      No idea how this post has 15 dislikes. Brings up a very interesting point about not giving Girardi too big of a deal and the fact that blocked shots does not mean a d man is good. Just go check the amount of blocked shots stanley cup winning teams amass recently.

      Im sure the same people putting 15 thumbs down on this post are the ones who long for torts to be our coach again.

  7. FrankCerbone says:

    Wish the writer of this post was a credible source of information.

    Google a NHL Giveaways/Takeaways search and you will find PER 60 MINUTES

    Nash 2.58 net giveaways per game
    McDonough 2.23
    Stralman 2.0
    Girardi 1.8
    Moore 1.58
    Klein 1.45

    Girardi has played well ALL YEAR; it is just that at the beginning of the season Rangers had injury issues to Hagelin, Callahan, & Nash all top 6 forwards AND SO MOST RANGER PLAYERS WERE MINUS PLAYERS, BECAUSE OF A LACK OF SCORING

    UFA defensemen Matt Niskanen (Pitts) and Tom Gilbert (Florida) are durable right handed UFA top 4 pairing defensemen in the off season.

    Niskanen has a 1.62 giveaway average per 60 minutes

    Gilbert has an incredible 1.22 giveaways per 60 minutes

    • Dave says:

      Girardi was a tirefire at the beginning of the year. He’s been slightly better since.

      Most Ranger players were minuses at the beginning of the year because of terrible goaltending, not lack of scoring.

      And finally, the fewer giveaways you have, the less you have the puck. Which means you’re defending, and the puck is more likely to end up in your net than in the opposition’s net.

      • Ray says:

        Actually, this is sort of a dumb stat, which we should suspect from MCDonagh’s place on the list. The guys who turn over the puck the most are the guys who handle the puck the most. If a Kevin Klein had the turnovers of McDonagh, he wouldn’t play because you can’t tolerate turnovers from a stay at home defenseman.

    • The Suit says:

      Frank – Giveaways and takeaways are defined so differently from arena to arena that they’re not worth over-analyzing.

      For example, some arenas will credit you with a takeaway if you block a shot and come away with the puck, others won’t and will just call it a blocked shot.

  8. FrankCerbone says:

    ALSO, of the UFA right handed defensemen Niskanen is 2 years younger & possess more offensive skills, lower turnovers, & very durable as well. Gilbert is a year older than Girardi, durable, and incredible 1.22 giveaways per gm, & more offensive skills than Girardi.

    Niskanen or Girardi are 2 guys Rangers would love to tie up in the offseason. Niskanen, an all around defenseman, would look great shooting from the right side point on the power play. He could be a real star on the right side point wise, but right handed shot Kris Letang is almost like the best as a right handed point shot.

    Girardi can be signed now; Niskanen will command big bucks in the off season

    • Chris A says:

      It’s nice to see Niskanen having a career year in his contract year. Someone will overpay for Niskanen and they will be deeply regretting that contract by Spring 2015, much like Christian Erhoff and his 10 year $40M deal.

      I would prefer the Rangers stay away from Niskanen. He benefits from playing with the top scorer in the league, Crosby, and mostly faces the worst teams in the league (Metro Division).

      The Rangers will stand pat on the blue line (Meaning they resign Girardi and Stralman) and will trade Klein by summer 2015 if one of or both of McIlrath and Allen have passed Klein on the depth chart.

      • Ray says:

        Actually Stralman is a big question mark in my opinion. You are right that Sather wants to keep him, but we don’t know how much money he will command and, as in the Prust case, the Rangers may get outbid.
        OTOH, I think McIlrath gets dealt this summer. When called up, he played to the crowd, not the coach and I would imagine AV wants him gone.

        • Chris A says:

          After less than 20 minutes of NHL ice-time you think AV deemed that McIlrath is not a fit? He really only made the one glaring mistake, a mistimed step-up in the neutral zone that led to a GA. I don’t see how that’s enough to make the wild assertion that he ‘played to the crowd’ and that he’s not a player AV wants (as if it’s even his decision in the first place).

          You’re right about Stralman, though it can said about any player. All players have a valuation to a club, once they exceed that value the club cuts bait. I just think the Rangers will sign Stralman shortly before he goes to the open market.

          • Ray says:

            I hope you are right about Stralman. My problem is that I can imagine Stralman getting $3M next year and I can also imagine $1.3M. As for mcIlrath, I believe that AV was looking for a few minutes from a player who wouldn’t be noticed and the fight showed a guy who didn’t want to be overlooked. AV will certainly forgive a single misplay from a rookie. it is harder to forgive a player who chooses an agenda which is not yours. At the time, AV was clearly peeved. Of course, my trade idea is pure speculation. As to who gets to decide, I think Sather will try to respect AV’s wishes. BUT he won’t trade a player for less than he thinks that player is worth.

  9. Frank Cerbone says:

    You can’t say Niskanen has a very low turnover rate because he plays with Pittsburgh. Since Letang is injured, Niskanen is called on to move the puck & he does it very well.

    In any event, both Niskanen & Gilbert are solid UFA right handed durable defensemen, have some offensive skills, and have very low giveaways PROJECTED OVER A 60 MINUTE GAME.

    • Chris A says:

      No, you can’t say that. What I can say pretty confidently is that Giveaway/Takeaway rates are fairly meaningless statistics, just like hits and blocked shots, thanks to the wide range of biases among official arena scorekeepers.

      Again, Niskanen is a decent player. My point was that any team that signs him thinking they are getting a #1 pairing D and pays him accordingly (over $6M per season) will be extremely disappointed. I’m glad that the Rangers will extend Girardi so they don’t have to mess with the likes of Niskanen or gods forbid Tom Gilbert.

  10. TeaneckMike says:

    How incredible that we look at two crucial defensemen (DG and Mack Truck), neither of whom we drafted. You want to credit the org for gettng them, fine. This organization has not been a great judge of draft-worthy talent since the amateur draft started in 1966 (or so)…especially in the first round and especially forwards in the first round where you should land some offense. Sign him because you can be sure that the over-hyped prospects will not fill in. Long live Hugh Jessiman, Jim Malone, Pavel Brendl, Jamie Lundmark, Al Montoya, Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Del Z, Lauri Korpikoski, Dan Blackburn, Manny Malholtra, Michael Stewart, Brian Wiserman and on and on. We did get Kovalev on the first round because everyone else was scared off, much like Chereponov.

    • Walt says:

      Ahh such fond memories of previous drafts, thanks for the reminder!!!!! NOT!!!!!

    • pavel_burrito says:

      I know, right?
      Also: Derek Stepan (2nd), Chris Kreider (1st), Carl Hagelin (6th), Ryan Callahan (4th), Marc Staal (1st), Henrik Lundqvist. Not to mention: Dubi, Anisimov, a bunch of kids in Hartford to come up next year.

      And though Jessiman, Brendl, Lundmark and co are complete busts, Montoya is overtaking Pavelick for #1 for the Jets, Malhotra is one of the best third line centers around, and Blackburn retired due to medical issues.

      Not amazing, but not an indictment of the draft brain trust either.

    • Bloomer says:

      Stephan, Staal, Cally, Lundquist, Hags, Amonte, Leetch, Savard, Zubov, Weight, Sandstrom, Granato,
      Patrick, Maloney (Don) sorry Dave…I am sure I am missing more but they haven’t drafted all that bad.

  11. Tom says:

    I think you are dead wrong about Girardi. The best approach with him is to trade him before 3/5 for the highest possible return.

  12. Bloomer says:

    Why is it when Lundquist was playing like crap..the defence was “error prone” but all of a sudden when the team is winning it all because of the stellar play of King Lundquist?
    Anyhow, Danny G is a blue chip defenceman there is no team in the NHL that wouldn’t cream their jeans at the thought of having him in the lineup. How his new contract fits in a cap space world only Glen Sather can answer. I think the Rangers are already overpaying for their goalie, but I am not a hockey GM and earn a pittance of what these hockey players are paid.

  13. rich says:

    all ranger fans- who is the teams g.m? knowing it’s glen sather, expect him to do the wrong thing with any decision he makes. who would you rather see a ranger-cam fowler (who was every hockey pundits choice with their pick) or Dylan mcilrath? which guy did he pick? sather is the reason n.y. will not win a cup for at least 5 years