Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

This past offseason, the Rangers let Anton Stralman walk via free agency and a five-year, $4.5 million deal in Tampa Bay. They replaced him with Dan Boyle on a shorter term deal, two years at $4.5 million. While the move was hotly contested by many, and created a divide for the pro-Stralman and anti-Stralman debate, the fact is that Boyle was still a serviceable replacement, and someone who would certainly help the team on the powerplay.

But then, 40 minutes into the season, Boyle broke his hand. Mike Kostka and Matt Hunwick have been called upon to replace him in the lineup, paired with either Marc Staal or John Moore. For the first month of the season, the Rangers are replacing Stralman with the Kostka/Hunwick combination, and no matter which way you slice it, that was never part of the plan.

Kevin Klein was always slated for third pairing minutes with Moore, and even then there are probably better options. So bumping him to the second pairing to fill in for Boyle is less than ideal. The Hunwick/Kostka duo, so far, hasn’t exactly been stellar. Kostka’s turnovers have overshadowed what has been a somewhat decent career. He’s not flashy, but he is serviceable as a 7D.  Hunwick has been a bit more steady than Kostka so far, but he’s still no long-term solution.

By moving Klein up a pair, the Rangers are worse in the top-four. That point is exacerbated by having Hunwick or Kostka in the lineup on the bottom pair. In short: The Rangers have a depth problem on defense. It’s something they had last year with Justin Falk before trading for Raphael Diaz.

At some point, the Rangers may try Dylan McIlrath out, to see how he handles NHL minutes in more than a one game sample. Conor Allen may also get a shot. But for now, the Rangers have a depth problem on defense. Hunwick/Kostka are not the answer so far (yes, it’s early).

I know we all have our opinions on how the Rangers should have handled the RD position, but the Rangers, in no way, ever planned on having Kostka/Hunwick platoon as a viable replacement for Stralman. Until Boyle returns, we will need to reserve judgment on those moves. One thing is clear though: There may be a move for a 7D coming up.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: