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Category: Defense

Stralman rewarding management with play

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

When the Rangers inked Anton Stralman to his one-year deal last season, many looked at it as a great low risk option to help round out the defense. After spending the first month of the season attempting to prove himself to the coaching staff, Stralman eventually saw top-four minutes while filling in for the injured Michael Sauer and recovering Marc Staal. He earned himself a two-year, $3.4 million deal in the offseason with his strong play.

In the salary cap age, getting a bang for your buck is one of the most important factors in offseason decisions. Stralman doubled his salary, and now is carrying an almost $2 million cap hit. With that increased salary comes increased expectations. At a bare minimum, Stralman would have to repeat his performance last season –specifically in the playoffs– to be “worth” that contract. It took an injury for him to showcase his talent, but the young defenseman showed that Slats anc company made the right decision to retain him.

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Gilroy earning coach’s trust, more ice time

Source: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images North America

Source: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images North America

Matt Gilroy may not be the most complete defensemen. In fact, he isn’t a top-four defenseman at all. But this isn’t the same Matt Gilroy that came to the Rangers after college and was immediately exploited for not being NHL ready. Gilroy has some NHL experience under his belt now and it’s showing, as Torts has been playing Gilroy over ten minutes per game in the absence of Dan Girardi.

It’s interesting to see Gilroy getting the playing time over veteran Steve Eminger, but it’s clear the coaching staff has seen something in Gilroy’s game that is making them rely on him more than Eminger or Stu Bickel. Gilroy isn’t without his flaws, as he does have many, but he brings more to the lineup –specifically against teams that skate well– than the other two spares.

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Dan Girardi’s absence heightens need for defensive depth

Girardi's injury really heightens the depth hole.

Girardi’s injury really heightens the depth hole.

With Dan Girardi out for his second straight game, the Rangers deployed the bottom pairing of Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy against the Islanders. Against the Devils, it was Gilroy paired with Stu Bickel. Suffice it to say, that bottom pairing not only isn’t scaring people, it’s a legitimate concern and liability on the ice. Torts knows this, and it’s a reason why the Bickel/Eminger duo only received three and five minutes each in their respective games. Gilroy played a minimum of ten minutes.

While it’s clear that Gilroy has cemented himself as a bottom pairing defenseman for the time being, it’s equally clear that the Rangers have no depth on the blue line. They are rolling with five defensemen, and another injury would cripple the club. Considering how much Torts leans on his top four guys, another injury isn’t exactly out of the question.

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Rangers continue to seek one basic player trait

Taylor Pyatt has been the one exception to an almost universal rule

Taylor Pyatt has been the one exception to an almost universal rule

Countless factors go into individual player evaluations, but one quality continues to dictate how the Rangers construct their roster: speed.

It’s not exactly a new revelation, the altered NHL demands that players possess speed and skill as the league has phased out the plodding physical specimens that were impact players in the 1990s. But few franchises have put as strong an emphasis on skating ability as New York. Just look at three of the team’s most recent first-round picks: Chris Kreider, JT Miller and Brady Skjei. What do all have in common? Tremendous skating ability.

There’s simply no room on Broadway, especially under coach John Tortorella, for players that can’t outskate the opposition.

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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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