Category: Defense

The Alternatives (or lack of)

Do you own a pair of skates? Give Glen a call, you could be of help!

Do you own a pair of skates? Give Glen a call, you could be of help!

Yesterday we discussed how the Rangers may eventually look outside of the organisation for help on the blueline. Unless you think Stu Bickel, Matt Gilroy or Steve Eminger are the answer then it’s perhaps inevitable that the Rangers are on the lookout. Of course, this is assuming team brass do not want Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh on the ice every other shift. So, with other teams such as the Red Wings signing viable alternatives such as Kent Huskins already, who’s still out there that could help?

The Rangers decision to bring in another defenseman will depend on what the Rangers want from their last pair. The options from either a free agent or trade perspective are limited, but there are some intriguing options, both defensive and offensively.

Chris Campoli

From the unemployed pool, Campoli would likely be the most expensive, but at this stage of an abbreviated season, anyone looking for work isn’t likely to make dollars a major stumbling block. The former Islander has likely plenty of gas left in the tank, but has been injury plagued in recent times. What makes him appealing for the Rangers is that he only costs dollars. Given the issues with moving the puck out of the zone, Campoli could help given that he’s a solid puck mover. If it’s offense and mobility the Rangers are after, then Campoli is the best of the rest at this stage.

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Could the Rangers’ start prompt a search for blueline help?

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The irony of the Rangers unimpressive start is that this team could really benefit from Wade Redden on the bottom pair. His passing ability and experience would have been a boost to the bottom pair. Clearly though, that was never going to happen. All jokes aside, two bad losses doesn’t mean a general manager should blow up his roster and beg for help elsewhere.

However, maybe the two losses have reinforced (or exposed) a need in the eyes of Glen Sather. Countless twitter fans, media types and pre-season’ predictors expressed varying levels of concern at the bottom end of the Rangers blueline depth. Basically the concern was – is there any?

Stu Bickel has been horrible thus far, Matt Gilroy is surely just an emergency measure (based on his at best mediocre play with the Whale), and Steve Eminger would have the same problem shaking off the rust that the current defense corps is encountering. So will Sather be tempted to look for an upgrade outside of the organisation and is it needed?

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Opening day is here, lines are set, drop the puck

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Rob Carr/Getty Images

The day we have been waiting for has arrived. The NHL season has arrived four months late, but it has arrived nonetheless. The Rangers are in Boston to take on the Bruins tonight, and the projected lines have been set by John Tortorella and his coaching staff:

Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Marian Gaborik-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
Chris Kreider-Brian Boyle-Taylor Pyatt
Mike Rupp-Jeff Halpern-Brandon Segal

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto-Stu Bickel

As we spoke about yesterday, the organization moved Gaborik to the left side for a number of reasons. This move really opens up the Rangers offensively, as for the first time in a long time, they have solid primary scoring, solid secondary scoring, and solid tertiary scoring. The defensive pairings should look incredibly familiar, as they are the same pairings from last year.

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Brooks: Rangers attempting to buyout Redden now (Update: Agreement reached, Redden to be bought out)

Update: 3:45pm: Larry Brooks is now reporting that a deal has been reached. Organizations can use their first compliance buyout by Sunday, and the Rangers will use this on Redden.

Original Post: Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are attempting to use their first compliance buyout on Wade Redden prior to the start of the season. The Rangers would still retain the $5.6 million cap hit for this season –which would make the NHL happy– while releasing Redden from his obligation to the Rangers, which pleases the union.

Redden, if released from his obligation to the Rangers, would have no problem finding a job as a bottom pairing defenseman for a fraction of his salary.

Could Marc Staal be the difference maker?

A return to All Star form by Marc Staal would be huge for the Rangers

A return to All Star form by Marc Staal would be huge for the Rangers

While everyone in the media who’ve analysed the Rangers point to Henrik Lundqvist in net and Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash and Brad Richards up front as the critical components for a successful season, people have somewhat forgotten about the defense. Even when people have talked Rangers defense it’s invariably been about the now resolved Michael Del Zotto contract situation. Of course, rightly so, all the aforementioned names will be critical to the Rangers season, but people need to remember just how good a certain Marc Staal was not so long ago.

People assume Marian Gaborik will benefit from the lockout and of course he has and will. Healthy, refreshed and with more offensive help, Gaborik should be in line for a strong season again. But perhaps no Ranger will have benefited from the extra time off more than Marc Staal. Staal is a workhorse who didn’t look himself when he returned from his long layoff last year. With the extra rest Staal could get back to being a dominant defensive presence for the Rangers.

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The lockout is over, what can we expect from the Rangers?

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

With the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding yesterday the NHL lockout officially ended, and teams are now free to pursue business as usual. Teams are now finally allowed to sign free agents (restricted or unrestricted), make trades, make call ups, and perform other duties required for the start of the season.

For Glen Sather and the Rangers, there isn’t much to do to get this team ready for the season. Their top 12 forwards are already set, as are their top six defensemen and two goaltenders. That said, there are a few moves we can expect the Rangers to make in the coming days, some obvious, some not so obvious. Let’s get into the moves we should expect the Rangers to announce

1. Sign Michael Del Zotto

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Del Zotto’s next move is critical to his Rangers career

Big decision looming for MDZ

Big decision looming for MDZ

Michael Del Zotto needs to be very conscious of how the next few days play out. How the young blueliner deals with the contract situation and the start of the upcoming abbreviated season is – to an extent – a crossroad in his young Rangers career.

The Rangers fan base can be an unforgiving one. When the crowd turns on you, the Garden can be a tough place to play (see: Malik, Marek; Rozsival, Michal). Negativity surrounding a player can certainly affect their performance, as these former Rangers would attest to. Del Zotto is in danger of coming across as greedy or unrealistic in the eyes of many, especially when the focus should be on getting up to speed as quickly as possible.

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Brooks: Rangers ask Redden to sit the season out

So long Wade.

So long Wade.

One day after we discussed how Wade Redden might need to be an emergency call up if the injuries mount, Larry Brooks noted that the Rangers will ask Redden to sit the season out:

It appears Wade Redden will sit out the season at home at the Rangers’ request in order to ensure he does not get hurt and thus jeopardize the planned postseason compliance buyout of the final year of his contract.

To elaborate on what Brooks is saying, the new CBA allows teams to have two amnesty buyouts between the end of the 2013-2014 season and the start of the 2014-2015 seasons. However, buyouts in the NHL –amnesty or regular– cannot occur if a player is injured. The Rangers actually ran into this problem once before with Chris Drury, when his knee almost prevented his buyout.

Redden has one more year after this season on his contract that will pay him $5 million ($6.5 million cap hit). With the new CBA, Redden’s cap hit would be $5.6 million if he plays in the AHL. Naturally, that’s a lot of dead weight on the cap, and the Rangers will absolutely buy him out.

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Could Del Zotto raise his value with a strong showing in Switzerland?

Is Del Zotto ready to cash in?

Most players head to Europe during the lockout to keep in game shape. Clearly this is also a concern for Michael Del Zotto who, without an NHL contract, is taking more risk than most as he headed to Switzerland. However, there is another side to this, and that is Del Zotto making the Rangers management team realise how much the young defenseman is worth as the NHL tries to get back on the ice.

Make no mistake, the Ranger need Del Zotto on the ice when (if) the league resumes. He’s their best offensive blueliner (depending on your opinion of Ryan McDonagh’s current offensive level) who playes 21 minutes per game at a young age. Throw in the fact that the Rangers are without significant organisational depth at the position and that Del Zotto still has significant upside, and he becomes an important part of the Rangers present and future. Both the Rangers and Del Zotto know his core role going forward. What hasn’t been agreed yet is how much each side is willing to value that role with the organisation in terms of dollars.

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Does Gilroy solve the defensive depth issues?

Matt Gilroy is back on Broadway.

When Matt Gilroy re-signed with the Rangers organization (currently spending his time with the Connecticut Whale), it was presumed that if/when the NHL season begins, Gilroy will be back with the NHL club. It’s not as simple as calling him up, but that actually plays into the Rangers’ favor.

Gilroy is currently inked to an AHL contract, meaning that he would have to sign an NHL deal with the Rangers before he can skate with the club post-lockout. While that’s a bit of a bump in the road in that Gilroy can’t be immediately called up, it does help the Rangers since Gilroy would need to pass through waivers. It’s semantics, but the end result is still Gilroy with the Rangers, filling a role of bottom-pairing and/or depth defenseman.

Barring injuries, and assuming that Anton Stralman doesn’t regress, that leaves Gilroy, Stu Bickel, and Steve Eminger fighting for the sixth, seventh, and eight defensemen roles.

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