As rumors circulate that the Rangers may pursue the next round of the fire sale sooner rather than later, the blue line becomes an area of particular focus. Returning most of last year’s defense, the much maligned blue line has been seemingly unable to stop anything the past few years.
While it is expected that the club will be better defensively as they adapt to the new system, there will need to be some personnel changes. Marc Staal is the main target here, but players like Adam McQuaid, Brendan Smith, and Kevin Shattenkirk may also be on their way out. However, that may not be as quick as some might prefer.
The key to a rebuild is developing youth and ensuring they aren’t rushed. Until those kids are ready for the next level, the Rangers need bodies at the NHL level to eat minutes. Say what you want about any of the four veterans above, they, at the very least, eat minutes and ensure the prospects acquired at least year’s deadline aren’t rushed to the NHL.
There is certainly an argument for making a trade sooner rather than later. It will open up consistent playing time for someone like Tony DeAngelo, who is at his own crossroads. But beyond that, there is value in players eating minutes. Until some of the other kids are ready to take that next step, the Blueshirts need bodies.
But have no fear. The blue line rebuild will eventually come. It just might not be as immediate as the forward rebuild.