The Marc Staal audition begins tonight

Can Staal get back to his dominant old self?
Can Staal get back to his dominant old self?

With Marc Staal returning to the line-up tonight, speculation will begin (again) as to whether the timing of his return is right, and whether Staal will ever be able to return to his previous best. In addition to the obvious chase for a playoff spot, and the continued (prolonged) acclimatisation to the new coaching staff, the Rangers will need to treat the second half of the season as an audition of sorts for Marc Staal.

There’s no question that Staal – at his best – is an elite All Star calibre defenseman, capable of shutting down the league’s best scorers, while also contributing offensively. However there are a boat load of questions regarding his durability, the task of re-projecting his long-term potential, and subsequently measuring his relative importance to the Rangers. In addition, the club needs to consider the financial risks that come with committing to such an injury prone and potentially concussion-vulnerable player.

The Rangers defense is potentially facing a summer of drastic change, with the increasingly likely departure of Michael Del Zotto, the inconsistent form of Anton Stralman and John Moore, and the regression of Dan Girardi. In terms of worst case scenarios, Ryan McDonagh may be the only long-term fixture on the Rangers blue line.

The Rangers know what kind of player they have in Dylan McIlrath – assuming he develops appropriately – and he may get a longer look this year or next, but the Rangers need to make significant decisions on the current roster. Connor Allen has impressed pre-season, in the AHL, and in his NHL debut. He could very well be a permanent Ranger. But so much of the eventual composition of the unit relies on Staal’s ability to return effectively.

The Rangers are financially committed to Staal at a good value of $3.875 million. The uncertainty around his future does raise questions as to whether the Rangers should look to commit to the their Staal family representative beyond ‘14-‘15. After strong defensive play and seasons of 27 and 29 points between 2009-2011, Staal has played just 97 games since and scored just 19 points. Staal’s defense has also been less than what fans had come to expect, but the sub-par production is undeniably tied to his health.

The remaining 41 games of the season (after the Florida game) are a crucial juncture for both Staal and the Rangers. If Staal is ever to get back to his All Star form and stay healthy, he should help the Rangers find some consistency on the blue line. The Rangers will hope Staal can prove he can come back and stay back. If he can’t, then Staal may not be a Ranger for much longer. The half season audition begins tonight.

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    • Personally I view a trade of either Staal or Girardi (moves I have seen constants posts about from BSB faithful) as a sign that the Rangers brass are giving up on this season and are trying to acquire pieces for the future. I would really hate for that scenario to play out.

      They have looked better the last 5 or so games and if Hank can follow up his last performance then I think they are on the upswing.

      How about we start the New Year’s Eve festivities off with a Rangers win? I much prefer happy drinking compared to angry drinking!

      • Do BSB posts on the subject have any correlation to what Sather & Co. are thinking? Not trying to be a smart-ass…but, while we speculate here, we have no way of knowing if deals involving Girardi and/or Staal are even being considered.

        • No I never said that? I was responding to the dozens of posts where people say we should dump these two. I’ve seen countless comments that they should trade Staal to Carolina since “he’s going there anyway in free agency”. I disagree on this and view both guys as core players. So if they are moved I consider it a radical change in philosophy by the Rangers management. That’s my opinion which is in disagreement with a lot of other people.

          My comment was to open up discussion with anyone who disagrees, not to imply that management checks this blog daily to get the pulse of Rangers Nation and decide how to handle the team.

          Isn’t that the point of posting here? To engage in intelligent conversation with other Ranger fans?

  • Is Staal really injury “prone”? 1 bad concussion and 1 freak accident during a 7 year pro career shouldn’t put him in the “prone” category.

    There are justified questions relating to whether Staal can recapture past form but to assume he will not, or that he is injury prone, isn’t justified. It will take the rest of this season and maybe part of next season to truly answer these questions — until then it’s us speculating either way.

    • AD

      Thats two concussions within a year! I have stated this before, so I’ll bore you with it again, when a person is concsuused, the probability is greater for another. Marc, Nash, are two that come to mind. What about Lindros, or Savard, and there are plenty of others????

      I’m a fan of Marc, would love for him to stay, but don’t you see the writing on the wall, “Carolina here I come”!! You can’t let this quality an assit walk, for nothing, sorry it’s time to move him for as much as we can get.

      • I dont know Walt….Then Pittsburgh should think about trading Crosby as well, being that he has 2 concussions too. I think, inevitably the bro’s will all play together one day, but I’m hoping it’s not any time soon.

        • Yeah but you’re overlooking one big stat that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet. All the Penguins stick up for him, you lay a hand on him and they will all jump you. The Rangers are the biggest bunch of [removed] I’ve ever seen. I can’t remember them ever being softer! You hit a Ranger and no one comes to anyones defense! This is not how a team sticks together. This team makes me sick the way it is constructed. If they make the playoffs they will be out in the first round. How Sather iced this team is beyond me and if this is how Vigneault wants to play he is in the wrong league!

        • Rob

          I wouldn’t trade just on the concussion issue alone, but the fact that he will join his family, who all live in Carolina some day!!

          History has shown us that these guys who get concussions, are subject to more, and more as time goes on. I mentioned a few, how about Keith Primeau, who is still struggling with physical issues due to his concussion history. Or look at last season, we trade for Ryan Clowe, he gets concussed, then early this season he goes down again, same problem, concussion.

          Also, do you really want to compare Cindy to Staal, I think not my friend????????

  • I would trade Staal and Callahan. Both are non-durable players, hurt too often. Anybody remember Todd Harvey! Callahan because of the style he plays, Staal I don’t know what is wrong with him. But all Staal’s concussions is a big problem, he is going to have to retire if it happens a couple of more times. These are the cold hard facts of hockey as a business. This team, the way it’s built is not a playoff contender. Nash plays like he is just waiting for another concussion. I would be proactive and get rid of these guys now. I can’t see giving Callahan 5 mil. a year for 5 yrs. I love Cally but not at that kind of commitment.

    • Callahan has played in 87% of games over the last 6 years. He’s not injury prone. He wants to be here. We need him here. He’ll be resigned.

      • Suit you say that now using statistics over the first half of his career. That 87% is only going down, not up. Tell me how the older you get the stronger you get……doesn’t happen. Signing this guy to a long term contract is gonna bite us in the ass, mark my words!Trade him now and get the best return possible.

  • Please trade him to Carolina now.

    I love the guy. He plays hard doesn’t back down and has a great SKILLSET.

    But, he does get hurt and there are buyers. I am sure he would return a decent amount.

    The question now is cost benefit analysis. What could we have for him, he is expendable..

  • We all can talk about trades, draft picks, free agents, injuries and anything else we can think of. The bottom line for our Rangers is one thing and one thing only. SATHER HAS TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!
    This man is living off his past and has done nothing for this team in 14 years. In this day and age when every sport has pressure to win now how the hell does this man still have a job? Simple Dolan has a Bro-mance with him and we will suffer until the day he finally retires or dies.

    • Callahan is great 3rd line player that scores a bunch due to grit around the goal. A pour man’s Chris Drury. He should get paid slightly more than the crazy Prust contract, but not 5 million.

      The key to success in this league is having ability to score and defend with 4 lines and 3 pairs. Top heavy teams do not win.

      The rangers need to move Callahan, Dorsett, Moore in exchange for a size able trio that bangs and can be a productive line.

      The Rangers need size and a reorganization of lines.

      Richards Stepan Nash
      Brassard pouliot Boyle
      Krieder Hagelin miller
      Big big big

      Put the young speed guys together
      Put the skill guys together
      Put the under performers together

      Callahan Dorsett Moore need to be traded for 3 big players that hit and can score grit goals.

      • Fyi….We have two “Robs” in here lol. The above post is not of my opinion no’r do I agree with the statement….Would NEVER trade Cally lol! Just saying…I’m the Rob thats been posting since the beginning of BSB….Wish there was a way of differentiating the names somehow.

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