OffseasonState of the Rangers

The Nash Fallout: With Erixon gone, Rangers need to fill defensive holes

Note: This was written before Anton Stralman re-signed.

Tim Erixon was never going to be a deal breaker in the Rick Nash negotiations and as it turned out the talented young Swede was indeed sent to Columbus. With Erixon gone, the Rangers now have an even more pressing need to fill the bottom pair ahead of the new season. Something that was already an issue.

It was widely assumed Erixon would grab one of the last spots on the blue line in New York this coming season. What’s more, Erixon was supposed to assist Michael Del Zotto in terms of generating offense from the blue line. Having flashed his talent in Connecticut, Erixon was going to provide something that was lacking somewhat in New York.

Without Erixon, with Anton Stralman a free agent and unsigned and with Dylan McIlrath injured for several months there is a clear need for the Rangers to go out and find alternatives. Of course, there still remains a chance Stralman returns. It makes sense for the player and the team to find an agreement assuming dollars can be agreed. Both sides are familiar with each other, there is a clear role for Stralman and with his previous experience playing with Rick Nash there is the added benefit of familiarity there too.

Beyond Stralman however and it gets murky for the Rangers. As said, they still need bodies on the blue line and with the Weber scenario playing out the way it did, any reputable defenseman may also be courted by the Flyers, among other teams. Supply and demand may mean certain players cost more than the Rangers want to pay, expecially for a bottom pair solution.

Internally, the Rangers don’t have much – if anything – who appeal for a full time role in New York. Brendan Bell played extensively for the Whale but his future is uncertain, clearly Wade Redden isn’t a factor and younger players such as Blake Parlett and Jared Nightingale aren’t considered NHL calibre. Then there are the recent NHL draft picks, Calle Andersson and Brady Skjei who aren’t serious considerations for the coming season. As you can see, options are thin internally.

Enter free agency. The remainder of the free agent pool isn’t overly enticing but there may be some depth options that could help the Rangers. Among the veteran names available are Chris Campoli, Kurtis Foster, Carlo Colaiacovo, Scott Hannan, Jaro Spacek, Pavel Kubina, Brett Clark and Randy Jones. The above names range wildly in type and experience not to mention individual circumstances, team interest and likely salary expectations.

With McIlrath eventually expected back from injury and Andersson and Skjei slated for the future the Rangers are looking for stop gaps; effective, short term solutions. Depending on the type of player they are looking for some names appeal more than others.

One player that might appeal is Kurtis Foster. Though injury prone, Foster has a big shot and knows the division through a brief spell with Jersey. Thanks to a subpar 11/12 season Foster shouldn’t command much and with the right ice time could help on the bottom pair and the power play.

Another veteran that could be an option is Campoli. While the free agent would have to take less money to come to New York, Campoli can move the puck and has put up some decent numbers for the Islanders and Senators. Given his injury prone year with Montreal Campoli can probably be had on a low risk deal for the Rangers.

Then there are ageing blueliners like Kubina and Spacek who may provide experience, (and in Kubina’s case familiarity with Tortorella), and an ability to play the power play but their demands may be a little more than the Rangers want to spend on blue line depth. Should their demands be modest maybe they get a call from Glen Sather.

None of the aforementioned names come without risk or issue, otherwise they likely wouldn’t still be seeking employment and it is highly likely the Rangers will need to grab a veteran to help fill the bottom pair. Maybe the Rangers decide to add a blue liner via trade; either a minor addition or of greater talent, prominence and salary like a Keith Yandle type but the more likely scenario seems via free agency.

If Anton Stralman is brought back only one other addition would be needed but either way, expect Sather and the Rangers to add a veteran defenseman soon. Sheer numbers in New York make it a necessity.

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    1. It says “Note: This was written before Anton Stralman re-signed.”
      So yes the only hol in the d is MDZ’s place. Also a defensemen for depth. No way Bickel can be used everyday for an injury. There is no one to bring up to replace somebody. So that hole is what needa to be covered.

  1. What about bringing Eminger back for a season? Cheap, familiar with team/coach/division, righty, tough. Perfect fit for 3rd-pair right with Stralman/Bickel.

    Also I know I’m in the vast minority here but I actually kind of like the idea of bringing Redden back up. (GASP!) Here’s why:
    -management/players wouldn’t expect him to be a 6.5mil player
    -he has done such a good job with development it couldn’t hurt to have him in the locker room with McD and MDZ.
    – unless NYR acquire doan there’s plenty of cap room, and he can be demoted if acquisitions need to be made
    – no need for #NYR to sign another contract before CBA changes happen
    – In the end, he was never THAT bad, just not a top-4 D or worth 6.5 mil.

    Call me crazy but I’d do it.

    Also of the FA’s you named I’d target Hannan. Solid and tough, though I’ll admit I don’t know his handedness.

  2. Since this was written before Stralman was resigned, then it doesnt include the news that Sauer has had tremendous progress as stated by Dave Maloney on Edmonton Radio this morning.

    With that news I have no problem using Bickel until Sauer returns.

  3. I read somewhere today that Sauer has taken significant steps towards being healthy and that he has been working out with no setbacks. hopefully hes ready in time for the season, but at the very least I think he could be back at some point during the year.

  4. Great news Sauer being back on track toward health. With a re-energised Staal and a fully fit Sauer this is the best D in the league. And they have Hank behind them. Oh yes!

    1. I posted several times after the Nash trade that the inclusion of Erixon could mean that sather knew that either one or both of Sauer and McIlrath were progressing physically from their injuries… appears I was right ! If sauer returns the NYR are set at every position….CUP

  5. Kurtis Foster is intriguing..better option over Eminger…hmmmm…tough one…just might be

  6. If they call up Redden, I think he has to clear waivers and if he is picked up then we have to pay half his salary against the cap for the remainder of the contract…..

  7. If they call up Redden, I think he has to clear waivers and if he is picked up by another team then we have to pay half his salary against the cap for the remainder of the contract…..

  8. We can go with the stable of d-men that are signed already, and feel comfortable. MDZ wants to re-sign, Sauer is going to be healthy, we have enough horses to ride this season. What we may need would be another scoreing forward, for deapth.

  9. Go to the web site and read what Doan is looking for. He wants 4 years at $30 Mil, he is out of his mind, and being 35 years of age, it’s a huge risk for any team to sign him. You can’t Redden him, or if he retires, your still hit with a $7.5 mil a year cap hit for the duration of the contract. Slats, please stay as far away from him as possible. By the way, for his entire career, he scored all of 296 goals, and 738 points, in close to 1200 games. I must admit, the man must be smoking something pretty strong to ask for that type of contract!!!!!

  10. I’m surprised no one has mentioned that Stralman used to play on the Blue Jackets. In 09-10 he had 22 pp points. Nash had 10 ppg that year. I obviously don’t know stats about like how much they played together but stralmans statline makes it sound like he was 1st pp unit that year so hopefully there is some chemistry between him and Nash.

  11. Right idea but incorrect direction.

    That the NYR was willing to trade Erixon despite the injuries to both Sauer and McIlrath says something about Erixon.

    The problem now is the Rangers no longer have any defensive depth developing in the AHL. Skjei and Andersson are 3-4 years away.

    Noreau and Ceresnak haven’t shown enough that either might be NHL material. Steven Delisle has not show forward progress either.

    The Rangers will need to restock that position sooner than later.

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