You know what you’re going to get with Dan Girardi. An honest effort, fearless play, positional consistency, relentless shot blocking and an overall fine defensive game (not to mention cyborg body parts). While Girardi chips in offensively, he’s clearly a defensive player first, and an impressive one at that. That said, Girardi has a glass ceiling, and given the seemingly never ending (over) use of Girardi by the Rangers, Girardi has tired toward the end of the season – which was inevitable – and the potential of all that overuse blunting his game, and future, is a legitimate concern.
With Ryan McDonagh already every bit the equal of Girardi, Michael Del Zotto (still, and perhaps worryingly) the Rangers best offensive option, and John Moore developing nicely in his short period with the Rangers (throw in Anton Stralman and the potential of Marc Staal returning), the Rangers have a host of defensive options. The back end needs an upgrade in the nastiness department, and in all likelihood that will need to be addressed from outside the organisation in the short term (with Dylan McIlrath hopefully filling the void long term).
All this brings us back to Dan Girardi. This isn’t a post to say they should move him or have to move him. Defensively, Girardi is All Star calibre. However he’s not been the same player this season and that may be due to overuse by the coaching staff for various reasons. What this post is about is Dan Girardi not being as critical as he once was and the Rangers, having multiple needs on the roster and limited cap space to address them. Girardi cold be a solution of sorts.
Quality defense is the most sought after commodity in the NHL. That is a reason why the Rangers could at least consider moving Girardi. He should fetch a fine return, given his affordable 1 year remaining at a bargain $3.4 million. That money and any potential return of assets would leave the Rangers in a better position going forward.
If the (sensationalised) media reports of Henrik Lundqvist potentially demanding maximum term and money are anywhere close to being true, the Rangers will need all the help they can get financially. Girardi’s cap savings (in this theoretical scenario) would help. So much of this theory is based on Marc Staal’s return, but IF Staal does come back, then a top four of McDonagh, Staal, Del Zotto, and Moore/Stralman is a pretty fine start defensively.
If the Rangers keep Girardi then they keep a quality defenseman without doubt, no complaints there. However, with some players already talking about a ‘steps backward’ and several truly essential players approaching key crossroads in their Ranger futures (within the next twelve months), perhaps Dan Girardi can help this club more by being sacrificed for the greater good. It’s at least worth thinking about, even if it’s not Girardi who they wind up moving. The Rangers are at a point where they may need to deal a veteran favorite to make cap room for youth.