Marc Staal was unsurprisingly chosen by his brother in last night’s All Star draft. He was chosen ahead of elite defenseman such as
Brian Dan Boyle, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Letang. There are plenty of elite defensemen that aren’t even at the all star game such as Kaberle, Rafalski, Doughty and Timonen. Last night was the official (league wide) coming out party for Marc Staal. He is still capable of an epic turnover occasionally (who isn’t) but with his involvement in the league’s mid season classic the rest of the league’s fans now know what Rangers fans know; Marc Staal is elite. There are very few defensemen that hold up to Marc Staal’s all round game and even fewer who hold up to his defensive skill. His puck handling and offensive ability is underrated and is still developing and there is no reason the Thunder Bay native cant become a 40 point player for the Rangers season in, season out.
With a +12 rating and 2 game winning goals, not to mention the insane minutes the 24 year old logs Staal is perhaps more important than any other Ranger, other than a certain Swedish netminder. On course for his first 30 point season Staal does it all for the Rangers. He’s more switched on offensively as his shot total attests, being on course for well over 100 – the first time he’ll pass that mark for the Rangers. The Rangers wouldn’t be where they are without Staal’s contributions. Brian Boyle has been a surprise, Lundqvist has been Lundqvist but the Rangers couldn’t be contending for home advantage in the playoffs without everything Staal gives them. He dominates his opponents regardless of name, with Alex Ovechkin the latest prime example from the recent shootout victory.
When you consider the contracts that have been dished out on blueliner’s around the league recently (6 defensmen have a cap hit of over $7m), the way that Staal has developed – specifically over the past 18 months – the 3.975m per year he is signed up for until the summer of 2015 represents good value. 40 players on defense at the start of the year had a larger cap hit yet there are certainly not 40 better than Staal. Indeed, considering Staal’s partner Dan Girardi is locked up for 3.25m; how many team’s can boast a pair of 20 something, minute munching top pair defenceman locked up for a little over 7m in total? The Rangers simply put, are in an enviable position on the blue line, starting with Marc Staal.