The mistake of a Marc Staal contract extension

The idea which has been floated around by Rangers beat writers all season that Marc Staal is an extremely important piece of this Rangers team and therefore must be signed to a contract extension is simply not true. Staal is an average to below average NHL defenseman at this point in his career due to, among other things, concussions and the eye injury we all remember very well. Turning 28 in January, Staal is believed to be seeking a six year deal worth $6 million annually, while the Rangers are offering him a deal similar to that of Dan Girardi’s six-year $5.5 million deal. Either contract would be a terrible deal for the Blueshirts.

Staal would be on the wrong side of 30 midway through his deal and if his numbers this season (5v5: CF% of 48%, P/60 of 0.48, CA/60 of 52.36) are any indication of the future, the Rangers would be wise to cut ties. In 162:05 TOI (yes, small sample size) defensive partner Dan Boyle has a 5v5 CF% of 48.5% when they’re on the ice together. In 115:50 TOI when Boyle is without Staal, he has a 5v5 CF% of 54.7%. Despite the small sample sizes my belief is these numbers wont change drastically one way or the other.

Beyond the #fancystats Staal just simply hasn’t been the same force on defense he was prior to those gruesome injuries. We’ve seen him get burned, we’ve seen his decision making take a hit, and we’ve seen his overall play diminish.

I would imagine that teams around the league still find value in a player like Staal, however misplaced it may be. He has name recognition, a first round pedigree and has been a part of a relatively successful Rangers team over the past several years. The Rangers should be looking to trade him, not extend him.

If Staal was looking for reasonable money and a short term extension I would be all for re-signing him. But he’s not. With plenty of UFAs and RFAs needing new contracts at the end of the year (Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast), if the Rangers give Staal big money they’re likely going to have to part with St. Louis or Zuccarello, two incredibly important pieces to this team, specifically Zucc.

Glen Sather would be hurting the Rangers for years to come should he give Staal the type of contract the two sides are discussing. A cap-strapped team with young talent that will be lost due to poor decision making and overvaluing defensemen due to their size and strength would make for a pretty bad situation for this franchise as well as its fans. As much as it hurts to see another home grown Ranger leave town, it would be the wise move to make.

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  • It’s hard to argue. Larry Brooks has been pumping his tires all season.

    My concern is the lack of quality defensemen in the system and in free agency. Not that I believe that is a reason to overextend, I’m just afraid that’s a reason why Sather might.

    One thing is a must, if Staal is traded, a good young defenseman ready to step in and play top 4 minutes has to be acquired as part of that trade or another. Otherwise, it’s not worth crippling the team this season.

    • There are certainly trade chips that can be used to acquire someone who can fill in for Staal. In terms of next season, Brady Skjei should be able to step into that role.

      • Would it be nuts to rely on Allen to fill in for the remainder of the year with the expectation that Skjei will take over next year?

        Would Allen not be as serviceable as Staal? This would allow the Rangers to get what they need for Staal, rather than dealing him simply to fill the hole his trade would create.

      • How can we assume Skjei will seamlessly slide into the #3 role? Shoudn’t we advocate young players earning their roles and ice time? Shouldn’t he be penciled in as a bottom pair dman at the onset?

      • It’s not anything close to a representative sample but I’ve watched Skjei play a few times and he’s given very little reason to believe that he’s anywhere near ready for top 4 minutes.

  • I agree trade him and I would also trade Zuccarello. I am not giving big money to them. Next year you will have the Russian Kid from the KHL JT Miller is showing some progress as a winger and you still have DuClair to find room

  • Trading Staal and even more so Zuccarello is absolutely ludicrous. Calling Staal below average is moronic and i can no longer take anything you say seriously.

    • I am with supermaz, Staal has been very good here down the stretch and has been an very important cog in the Rangers success. While I understand the cap situation and the reason why the Rangers can’t sign him for the big dough, it be a mistake to think a unproven rookie could walk in and fill his skates.

  • Not sure if he’s below average at this point in the season, but in the first 15 games he was awful and if a rookie were playing the way he was at that time he would have been back in Hartford.

    Even in an NHL of inflated salaries for defensemen who are not stars, $5.5 is about a million too much for Staal now and certain to make him un-tradeable in 2-3 years when he won’t even be able to crack the Rangers top 4 on D.

    Staal has been playing better lately, but he brings next to nothing to the offense and even his defensive zone play has been spotty (and sometimes atrocious) this season.
    This rules him out for the big money as the D-zone play has to be impeccable if he’s not bring any offense to the table.

    • I agree with you and your post. Staal is overrated at this stage of his career, and to sign him for $6mil, and 6 years is just crazy. That is what the Pens are paying Letang, maybe a bit more, and look what he brings to the table. Staal was solid, and the key word is solid, not any more. If he demands that kind of a contract, ship him out for the best return we can get!!

  • If they’re gonna’ trade Staal. then you have to get a top six D man or a top six forward in return. Just the amount of minutes he plays would dictate that the guy coming back be a “player.” I, personally, think Staal is the most overated defenseman the Rangers have had since James Patrick. Still, I’m not ready to give him away for nothing. As long as Brooks, and Pierre McGuire keep praising Staal to anyone who will listen, then Sather should hold out for the strongest possible return.

    • Whatever credibility Brooks still has takes another hit every time he shills Staal.

      Opposition GMs don’t give a flying f%#$ what Brooks or McGuire think, but I agree that based on the minutes Staal is playing, a top 6 defenseman or top 9 (not necessarily top 6) forward is a reasonable return for him.

  • People get attached to what a player was and not what he is. Staal was great, but he hasn’t been the same since the injuries. If you’re going to deal him, now’s the time.

    • im just afraid of getting burned. that cally for st louis trade isnt looking good right now. yes cally is on a better team but 30 points so far is nothing to scoff at.

        • I’d still make that deal. Cally’s nice, but we know what he is. Playing on a line with Stamkos for the majority of the season will certainly help your numbers.

      • Cally is scoring more because Tampa doesn’t use him as a penalty killer (he’s averaged only 13 seconds per game on the PK and is 9th in PK TOI/G among TB forwards) and has him riding shotgun with Stamkos.

        If the Rangers took Callahan off the PK he would have been a lot healthier during his time in NY and would likely have scored a ton more goals.

        The question is, how valuable would a 35 goal per year Callahan be to the Rangers if he wasn’t a top PK’er? I’m not sure what the answer is but it’s interesting to see that TB has a completely different view on Callahan than the Rangers.

        • Callahan isn’t a 35 goal a year player (he’s on pace this year for 29 which would match a career high). If he is, then the Rangers catastrophically misused him.

  • While I don’t think Staal is average to below average, he’s certainly not worth the numbers being tossed around. He’s a decent to good 2nd pair defenseman who has a good reach/stick and contributes very little on the offensive end. He was exposed early this season playing the tough minutes alongside Girardi. Historically Staal has been very good against the Crosby/Ovechkins of the world, though some of that should be attributed to playing alongside Stralman

    If Staal can acquire a younger defenseman with some term then I would advocate a trade, otherwise keep him for the year and let him walk this summer. Hunwick/J Moore is not the answer as the 2-3 LD men. Also, Skjei won’t be ready for 2nd pair minutes next year. Even McD started in CT and he was more polished coming into the league

  • its the additional first round pick. straight up its not bad but getting rid of first rounders deprives your team of cheap nhlers in the long run

    • They’ve made up for it by nailing their mid round picks. I wasn’t a fan of the deal at the time because of the picks, but MSL has made me a believer and is a difference maker in the playoffs.

  • Teams around the league would find value in Stall, but what would they know compared to a third rate blogger.

  • Maple Leafs and Jets are on the periphery of the playoffs and both are D challenged to say the least. I would make a deal now. A second rounder plus a prospect feels right. There is no way the Rangers can go five years even @ $5MM. The cap is gonna get squeezed with the C$/US$ exchange rate. Stepan, Zucc and MSL are must signings. There is good depth in the system and should allow Sather to make a deal for 3/4 D-man in the short term.

  • Won’t hurt to see Marty and Zucs go if it means keeping Staal. Average to below average defenseman? Turn in your credentials.

    Marty is showing his age and Zucs has come back down to earth I’m afraid.

    Show me the 6/6 guys in the league right now and I think Staal would measure up.

    Nasher is now rounding back into shape after his injuries and it looks as if Staal is doing the same. You don’t find that size and skill set very often. You better re-think your priorities.

  • First of all, anyone playing with Steve Stamkos will look exceptionally better than they are (e.g. Chris Kunitz playing alongside Crosby). If Callahan was still with the Rangers he’d have 8 – 10 goals, playing second line and making $ 5.5+ million. That is not good value. St. Louis is much less injury prone and brings as much, if not more to the team, even though he won’t be around as long. Letting Cally go was a good move and as St. Louis finishes out his career, that slot will be open in a few years for the new kids that will be very capable of replacing him (Duclair, Buchnevich). Cally would have clogged up that ability to promote from within.

    I agree that a 6 year deal for Staal is too long…but assuming that you can trade him and get an equivalent defenseman is assuming that some team is going to be willing to acquire him and take the chance that he will sign with them…by no means a gimme these days. Staal has looked pretty darned good the past month and let’s not forget that for the past 2 years he has had multiple partners playing his right side due to injuries. No one brings up the fact that Staal is having to cover for an average Dan Boyle as his partner and covers for many of his slow-footed mistakes. Can’t compare Staal to Girardi or McDonagh, since the first pair rarely are injured (except for McD this year) and have a lot more continuity playing together all the time. Remember how good Staal was when Girardi was his linemate?
    Assuming that a college kid (Skeij) or someone from Hartford (Allen) can easily move seemlessly into a second pair defense slot is crazy as this league is way too good. They would get eaten alive in the payoffs.

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