Who from the blue line logjam will survive the offseason?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Rangers have an issue on defense that needs to be rectified.

Shocked? I know.

Despite the lack of quality in players on the blue line, the Rangers actually now have a bit of a logjam as they head into the offseason. Including RFAs, the Rangers have a whopping nine defensemen under contract at the NHL level: Kevin Shatenkirk, Marc Staal, Brady Skjei, Brendan Smith, Adam Fox, Libor Hajek, Fredrik Claesson (RFA), Tony DeAngelo (RFA), and Neal Pionk (RFA). They also have at least two AHL defensemen in Yegor Rykov and Ryan Lindgren that may compete for a spot. And that’s just at the NHL level.

At the AHL level the Rangers have, in addition to Rykov and Lindgren, Tarmo Reunanen, Joey Keane, Brandon Crawley, Sean Day, Darren Raddysh, Julius Bergman (RFA), and Chris Bigras (RFA). Worth noting that John Gilmour and Rob O’Gara are both UFAs (Group 6), and I’m assuming they leave. They aren’t included in this group.

All in all, that’s a total of 18 defensemen under contract or RFAs that the Rangers have on the blue line. It is certainly not a bad problem to have, but it begs the question about who will actually be with the organization next year. As it stands today, at least two guys on this list would need to spend the entire year in the ECHL.

Let’s break this down into two categories: Definitely staying and definitely leaving. By definition, anyone not in these two categories is a big pile of “who knows?”.

Definitely Staying

The guys who are definitely staying are the ones you think. That would include Skjei, Hajek, Fox, Reunanen, Keane Rykov, and Lindgren. Skjei is the next face of the blue line, and the rest are rookies that are held in high esteem by the organization. I’m going to reach and include Day here as well.

Let’s also add Staal to the list, since the Rangers won’t be able to shed that contract.

Definitely Leaving

Bergman has already signed to play with Frolunda in Sweden next year. He’s not coming back. Claesson is gone too. I can’t imagine the Rangers are going to qualify him with this many bodies on the blue line.

All signs are pointing to Shattenkirk being traded, or worse, bought out. I think it’s safe to put him in this category. Man, what a disappointment for player, team, and fans. It didn’t work out, but I will still defend that signing until the day I die.

So that leaves 15 players, barring any trades to make actual improvements. If the Rangers are in on Jacob Trouba, I think it is a fair assumption that one of DeAngelo or Pionk are included in that deal. Either way, that doesn’t change the number of defensemen. There are certainly worse problems to have, especially when it’s Brendan Smith as the 7D in the NHL, as opposed to a kid that actually needs to play.

So who do you think will still be here when the season starts?

"Who from the blue line logjam will survive the offseason?", 2 out of 5 based on 6 ratings.
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  1. The Rangers are petitioning the NHL to allow each team to play 5 D men on the ice at the same time. But of course Bettman will deny the request, because, it’s coming from the Rangers, whom he hates.

    But anyway, Smith and Staal SHOULD be the odd men out. Smith can be sent to Hartford while Staal can be bought out.

    I’m on the fence with Shatty. I think that he has something left, but of course that cap hit makes him an obvious target to go. If he stayed and if the Rangers do not get a Trouba or someone like that, then:


    Staal and Smith should not be on the roster, period. Pionk should be traded. Lindgren is there for the 6th/7th spot.

    1. I’m sure they’ll try to accommodate Smith in a trade as opposed to sending him to Hartford. But if they can’t, according to CapFreindly he has a modified NTC. I’m wondering if this NOW affects Gorton’s ability to send him down.

      I’m also worried that ADA has now sufficiently cleaned up his image somewhat and may be perceived as a desirable commodity to NHL GM’s that he might be included in a trade over Pionk. Especially if the Rangers are serious about Trouba.

      1. Cat

        No way they trade ADA, he may well be our best right d-man on the team. Pionk has to be moved, he is a defensive liability, as bad as Shatty on defense. Smith may make the cut for the reasons I mentioned below, but the other S’s must be shipped out ASAP!!!!!!

        1. Hey Walt… I agree, but what scares me is Quinn’s unfathomable affinity for Pionk. And if Winnipeg insists on RHD replacement for Trouba and the Rangers are hot for a trade, then ADA might be included. I so hope not.

  2. I knew Shatty was a bad signing the minute the ink dried. We have signed 30 puck moving dmen since Leetch left and not a single one has worked out.

    We have drafted all small puck moving dmen and none of them have worked out. I was a huge fan of Gordie Clark when he came from Islanders but the entire Scouting department should be fired.

      1. Conjecture here, but my guess the Rangers will buy out the old war house Marc Staal. And as soon as the ink is dried on his severance papers he will sign on with another club. Likely a contender.

  3. Glad we got Reunanen signed. They need to clean house. I think I’d we retained half of Shatty and Smith there’s a deal to be had with Toronto. If they sign Marner for $11 ish mill they need cheap D. And these two at half salary would help. Kadri would be a good price back with a little something else. I think Kadri is still a leaf…haven’t heard from Sean Avery lately.

    Hope we don’t do any buyouts but if we do I think it will be Staal.

  4. If you want to re-boot the defense, jettison all of them except DeAngelo, Yes even SKJEI! has not gotten better in my eyes.And please J.D listen to us somehow,someway get rid of Staal, the biggest elephant in the room. You rid yourself of him a lot of this team’s trouble go with him. At least Shatty and Smith are serviceable.

  5. All signs are pointing to Shattenkirk being traded, or worse, bought out. I think it’s safe to put him in this category. Man, what a disappointment for player, team, and fans. It didn’t work out, but I will still defend that signing until the day I die.

    I was one of a very few who said long before don’t sign that garbage, but then again what do I know? Shatty should be the first one shown the door. Staal should be traded if possible, if not he rides the pine until he quits. Of the three S’s, Smith is the cheapest, most flexible in that he plays both sides on defense, has a bit of snarl, and can fill in the hole on wing. If there is a buyer for him, then we move on it as well. If Jake comes, then here is the defense next season:

    Lindgren 7th man

    Yes they will be young, and untested, but they have to get their feet wet, what better way than to push them into the pool, and let them swim. We aren’t going to win the cup next year, so do the developing of these kids under real game conditions.

    1. Amen Walter…I was screaming hell no to signing him in the first place…..Trotz didnt even want him back. How on Earth did the FO not see it?

  6. 18 22 42 44 all need to go but if we at least get rid of 22 and 44 I will be happy

    1. Give Pionk a chance. We aren’t going anywhere next season. Staal is very inconsistent. Maybe bottom 4. 42 is taking away developing time playing forward and being bad when he is D.

      1. No…Pionk doesnt belong in the NHL . We have too many kids that are better than him that need to play. He is atrocious on D. We are going for the playoffs next year

  7. Rangers, Wolfpack, Mariners.
    oh there’s room for everyone. It’s the fact that you’ll see players on the NHL ice that you no long want to see.

    Think about this for a second, are you guys really thinking management is going to ice 4 out of 7 rookies on the defense alone? Then add 3 more rookies up front.
    You couldn’t possibly believe in your heart of hearts the Rangers are going to ice 6-7 rookies?

    Perhaps, you could provide an example of a team having 5 rookies play 60 or more games in that season?
    Could you come up with one that had only 3 rookies that played more than 60 games in a season?

    Seems like a reckless way to treat all of your prized prospects all at once.

    Forgetting the simplest of facts, there will not be a sink or swim method by DQ. There will not be time allotted because of who you are. nothing is free. Opportunity will be earned. I would think this is exactly what you’d all want. its not tho, and that is mindblowing.

    1. A couple of thoughts on the defense and a few other things.

      Trouba will not be a Ranger unless the Jets accept a package that revolves around Lias and a 2nd round pick this year and next and maybe Pionk

      Speaking of Pionk, unless he is included in a significant trade, Pionk will an should be back. The organization likes him and he was a rookie last year playing for most of the year with a 220 lb anchor on his opposite side.

      ADA is a keeper and isn’t likely to be traded anywhere. He will however get a bridge deal because I am not sure that the organization trusts him enough off the ice to make a long term commitment.

      Shattendrek needs to be traded, or bought out. He is someone who I really wanted the team to sign and unfortunately, he hasn’t panned out. He was terrible last season. You can count one one hand the number of good games he’s had since he signed here. His fancy stats can’t mask the fact of just how terrible he has been.

      The team needs to figure out how to trade Smith. He doesn’t have a huge contract or term left . On the right team, he can be an effective number 4-5. We may have to eat 25% of his salary to make it work. Staal won’t be bought out and will probably finish his career here in two years.

      In my opinion , the defense will be

      Skjei ADA

      Staal Fox

      Hajek Pionk

      Rykov Lindgren will compete for the 7/8 spot on season it will be better.

      On the draft, JD must, MUST make sure that Clarke doesn’t draft Spencer Knight at 20. JG should be looking at moving up in the draft as much as possible without doing damage to the team. They need to find a center who can be the number 2 c as fast as possible because that is our most glaring weakness. If Kreider is in play, we may be able to get to as far as #7 if it’s CK and the 20th pick going to Buffalo. The Sabers would probably have to send us their 2nd round pick either this year or next in that type of deal. Of course such a deal is only possible if we are sure that Panarin is coming here. And with the seventh pick in the draft, we should pick Cozens, Zegras or Dach. For arguments sake, let’s say it’s Cozens.

      Kakko Zibanejad Panarin

      Kravtsov Cozens/Strome Buchnevich

      Lemiuex Howden Chytil

      Fast Names Vesey

      Lias to Hartford, Boo is the spare forward

        1. Love love him.. but don’t we have enough d-men? He’s not making it to 20, they’re not thinking of trading up?

  8. That link about Tim Erixon above is pure comedy gold, a veritable “Who’s that?” of players mentioned when it came to fixing the D *8 years* ago.

  9. Thinking that Fox may have a real chance are making the club. Hajek and Lindgren have legit shots. This tells me 2 slots have to open up. Pionk, Smith and the 20th overall pick for Trouba solves many problems. Pipe dream, I know

  10. Line up:
    1. Skjei & TBD (from trade…Trouba?); we trade forwards/picks here—not a D man. Glut of forwards when actually look at roster including Krats/Kapo/Panarin?
    2. De Angelo & Hajek
    3. Staal (cannot be moved for financial reasons) & Fox

    Shatty has some trade value as does Pionk. Most likely be moved.
    Smith stays as #6 D man plus back up forward.
    Rykov starts year in minors and moves up after Christmas

  11. It really doesn’t matter who goes or stays as long as Lindy Ruff is still coaching the D. The results are always going to be the same. Why not make a pitch to Scott Stevens for the job . . .

  12. Unless the Rangers’ front office really wants Staal gone and buys him out, he will probably be with the club because his contract makes trading him seemingly impossible.

    I have my doubts that the club will play a bunch of rookies on defense at the start of the season. I think that unless they clear out Shatty and Staal, they will be playing. Smith might also be with the club because of his contract too. If that is all true, and adding Skjei to the list, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of open spots.

    The log jam is due to having some defensemen who appear to not be tradeable. Shatty is the most marketable older defenseman. If they do actually land Trouba then Shatty is history. He also might be history if they don’t get Trouba. ADA might prove to be marketable but I would rather that Pionk be shipped out.

    I am at a loss regarding who I think will remain if they can’t move some of the older defensemen.

  13. Man, I can’t wait for the draft. Looking fwd to seeing JD start to put his stamp on this team. I’ve been drooling over Kaako. But I will not be the slightest bit disappointed if the Devils somehow let us take Jack Hughes… the great American phenom.

    Patience is the key for the D-corps. It’s coming. They’re building and signing d-men like crazy. So the wave is coming, and I think we’re just gonna have to wait for some of this other “stuff” to work its way through. There’s no real pressure to win yet, and you definitely don’t want to float a bunch of rookies out there w/o some sort of veteran presence to show them the right way to be pros. Say what you want about Staal’s game, but he is a really good veteran NHL-er to learn from on and off the ice. It’s just that Quinn gives him too much ice-time and over plays him. It’s not ideal, but trading these guys seems very difficult. We can’t get them off this team fast enough, so no wonder there’s no teams knocking on our door for them either.

    I think leadership is vastly underrated here in this re-build. You need guys to show all these kids how to adapt and deal with everyday life in the NHL. Quinn is a good coach. But you need the players to develop the right culture in the locker room. A bunch of rookies will not be able to just figure it out.

      1. I think I will miss the 1st round pick Dallas will owe us if he signs there almost as much.

  14. I don’t see any real negative in letting guys like Rykov, TR, day, Crawley, Keane, etc. spend some time in the AHL developing and maturing — with the caveat of course being that the Rangers revamp Hartford’s management in a competent way. That said I would like to see Hajek play up with the big club, Fox as well (although 15-20 games in the AHL won’t kill him) and the same for Lindgren. That said if they can only get a 3rd rounder for Shattenkirk, even while retaining half salary, then so be it … if Pionk has a somewhat similar value and can be traded, so be it … and the same can be said for Staal and Smith, even with 50% salary retention. What I don’t want to see is any BUYOUT — which I loath. I think the whole point of salary retention is to provide an additional alternative to the buyout and to the “burying the contract in the AHL” —- 2 years at half price beats 4 years.

    Of the 3 S’s Smith in many ways bothers me the least, at least he has the versatility of playing on the 4th line — and not too shabbily I might add … so keeping him around as a spare part has some benefits. I can live with Shattenkirk if Pionk is moved and vice versa. I can live with Staal getting 3rd pairing minutes, if we move one or two other d’men — he’s been a very good Ranger, injuries and the increased speed of the NHL in conjunction with his eye injury have ruined what was once a very promising career.

    I have no delusions here, I don’t expect JG to perform some miracle and find a way of removing every bad contract or every sub-standard defenseman, but he can start whittling away at the problem this summer and then perhaps again come the trade deadline.

    1. Agree on nearly everything. Key point is that sub-standard defensemen are not the problem. The problem is the absence of good defensemen. The Rangers need a true first pair and there is no way a first pair defenseman gets stuck in Hartford because of a numbers game.

      1. There’s not any 1st pair defensemen in Hartford *for* Hartford assuming Fox starts on Broadway.

        Day/Keane maybe, but Day is 3-4-5 territory for the NHL at best.

        The problem is that Skjei has to learn to be a complementary player to whomever he’s paired with, rather than always being the primary player to take the puck up.

        1. I think as long as Skjei’s got a competent partner he’ll be “ok”. The talent is there, but he isn’t so talented as to be able to carry an incompetent d’man next to him — but in essence I agree, he needs to be the 2nd option offensively in a good 1st pairing (not as much in a 2nd).

    2. . What I don’t want to see is any BUYOUT — which I loath. I think the whole point of salary retention is to provide an additional alternative to the buyout and to the “burying the contract in the AHL” —- 2 years at half price beats 4 years.

      For the very reasons mentioned, you never sign long term deals with NMC for anyone, I don’t give a hoot who he is , NEVER. Look at some of those Bull Sh*t contracts like Girardi, Staal, Redden, Richards, Shatty, that come to mind. They cost a fortune, the team gets short changed, they never live up to the billing, and we’re stuck holding a bag. The thought of retaining salary is BS as well. We can’t be that cavalier about the bosses money, just be more prudent when signing these clowns to the contract in the first place. Due your due diligence, study these players, and maybe read this blog, many very good thoughts come from it daily!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Walt I agree, of course the whole issue can be avoided by NOT signing older guys to long term contracts AND giving them NMC — although let’s be honest, if you want to trade a guy with a NMC that can often times be done. Pride drives a lot of these players, better getting traded from a place you’re not wanted than to stick around, grab a paycheck and be vilified by the fan base — not to mention the embarrassment of perhaps being benched, given little ice time or even scratched. Lucky for us (I mean every team of course) there isn’t a No Benching Clause or No Scratching Clause.

        In any event, this is why I caution even signing Panarin. Do I want Panarin, well sure he’s an elite player (today). Will he be an elite player come in years 5, 6 and/or 7? I have questions … and as far as Karlsson is concerned, I have MORE than questions. I’m pretty sure given his injury history we wouldn’t be happy down the line.

        This is why I think we should sign both Buch and DeAngelo to long term contracts NOW and not in a few years — at least I think so because I believe in both of them. Not only do you get them cheaper today than tomorrow, but their bargaining power isn’t so strong as to demand a full NTC/NMC — plus the contracts expire at a reasonable age (circa 30) — that makes them much more likely to perform to their cap hit.

        It would be nice if they bumped these contract terms down to 5/6 instead of 7/8 for starters … but you do need a mechanism for mistakes, every team makes them — and as far as the owner’s money, well Dolan has proven not to care (if it’s for the good of the team).

        1. I have an idea, do what the NFL does, you can sign a fifty year deal, but after 1-2 years they can drop you like a hot potato. That’s the only way to get some deadbeat players to put up, or get dumped!!!!!!!!!

  15. Sorry, I don’t see the logjam. Compare the 40 man roster D’s to last fall. Enter Raddysh, Fox, Keane, Rykov, Reunanen. Exit Pedrie, McQuaid so far. Surely Gilmour and O’Gara will seek out greener pastures and join the earlier two. If the Rangers part with Bigras, they will have the exact same number of defensemen as they did last year. If they want to add Trouba, they likely will have to part with another in that very deal.

    Short term: I definitely qualify Claesson. He is good and cheap. Seems little doubt that he has trade value if you don’t choose to keep him. I might qualify Bigras – as a sign and trade guy. Better yet is to try to trade him now. If a trade seems not likely, then cut him loose. The Rangers are not interested in him and don’t want him around in September.

    If you do end up with too many guys at Hartford, you can likely swap Raddysh to a team with too many forwards and too few defensemen at the non-prospect level. And we still don’t know for certain that guys like Keane and Reuanen belong in Hartford and not Maine.

    But what about the nine NHL defensemen? We are not talking about nine Bobby Orrs here. Hajek – looked good in what was it five games, meanwhile his half AHL season screamed not ready. Fox – looks ready, but we don’t know. Pionk – certainly looked like an AHL player last year, surely you don’t move someone else to force him into the top seven. Smith – if he’s in the way, send him to Hartford or make him a forward. Again not a problem. Staal – can carry him as 7th or 8th defenseman if necessary.

    The Rangers do not have to deal anyone, period.

    That does not mean that I would not trade anyone. Fox should be untouchable, but otherwise anyone goes for the right offer. I wouldn’t expect to trade Reunanen, Rykov, Keane, the newcomers. I am not sure about Day, Lindgren, Crawley. On one hand, they did not dazzle last year and there is some temptation to trade and turn the page (for the right price of course). On the other hand, we could give them a free pass for last year, assuming any lack of progress is related to poor coaching. I am inclined to take this approach.

    The Rangers should certainly make some effort to trade Pionk. He is an inferior redundant quantity. IF they are wildly unsuccessful and all they can get is a sixth round draft choice, they can keep him and send him to Hartford. Having established himself as not having trade value, he will clear waivers.

    Trading Shattenkirk, Skjei, DeAngelo is all about what is best for the rebuild long term.

    Buyouts in 2019 are dumb. They save cap room next year when they should not need it and use up cap space 2021-2023. Plus, the only buyout that might make the defense better (#30) is not politically palatable.

    1. I’m not sure why you would even consider trading DeAngelo, he has more talent in one hand than any of the other d’men who played last year … and perhaps even more importantly, he has an on ice attitude that we are desperately lacking. Here’s a kid who will stand up for himself and his teammates at the drop of a hat, who doesn’t appear to shy away from physical contact and who can move the puck with the best of them. I believe if he continues to develop a little further he could be a top pairing RD — maybe not a full fledged elite one, but a very good one.

      … and one note regarding Hartford and the performance of various d’men there last year, we should probably give it little weight. Hartford appears to have been a cluster f**k — and there’s always the argument that some players just play better when they are playing with better players (Hajek) and don’t try to do too much.

      1. Tanto I agree regarding DeAngelo. He made vast improvements in his game last season while not playing as much as some of the others. If he continues to improve Tony could be a Ranger for a while. And yes, it is nice to see a kid who has the gumption to get in the face of any opposing player, even those much bigger than him, who abuses his teammates.

        1. He brings a smile to my face whenever I watch him play … when he makes a mistake (they all do, he does less so), I sigh and say to myself “oh Tony” … when I watch Shattenkirk, Staal, Skjei (at the beginning of the year) and Pionk I’m thinking more WTF was that? Not all the time mind you, but enough of the time.

      2. So you are saying that that if Winnipeg offers Trouba and a first round draft choice for DeAngelo, you would not take it.

        If ADA is as good as people here think he is, that is not an unreasonable trade for Winnipeg to make.

        DeAngelo may still have attitude issues. He doesn’t kill penalties. He has been sheltered. He is an offense first right defenseman, something the Rangers have a plethora of. As of yet, he has not done well on the power play. On the upside, he shows great promise and is improving.

        IMO, there is a huge difference between trading Pionk and trading DeAngelo. Very optimistically, one might get a low second round draft choice for Pionk. Likely it would be more like a fourth rounder. DeAngelo would bring back a real return. I would guess he would easily net a low first rounder and perhaps quite a bit more. No, I wouldn’t trade him for the #25 pick in the draft any more than you would. But I can’t help but think that because of the nature of the Ranger RD, he might be more valuable to someone else and that other team might make a stunning offer.

        My idea for trading is simple. Make win-win trades. Team A gives up assets worth more to. B than to A and B gives up assets worth more to A than to B. Under those terms, the Rangers should likely move at least two of Shattenkirk, ADA, Pionk, Fox. Can’t move Fox, so it is two out of three. Yes, first choice is Shatty and Pionk, but keep an one mind.

        1. Thing is ADA is only 23 and like I said, he’s the only guy on this team aside from Lemieux that has an innate snarl to his game — on top of all the talent. Sure I would be open to a real good trade, but it would have to be a win plus/win trade — if it’s any sort of parallel move I’m not sure I would be interested.

          1. Hey tanto – back from the great white North – want some snarl, this kid Beecher (projected 2nd rounder) looks like a Tom Wilson. Looking forward to the Draft in a few days – a few of us will be in BC for the show. God bless!

  16. Everyone is forgetting about the real elephant in the room that needs to go first…Lindy Ruff.

    1. This is silly. David Quinn has been coach for a year. He knows what the situation is. It makes no sense to keep an assistant coach that Quinn does not want. If Ruff is still coaching the defense next year, we can safely conclude that DQ wants him to be coaching the defense.

      It is one thing to force an assistant coach on a guy who has never coached in the NHL and needs to learn the ropes. It is another thing to do the same thing for a second year; I just don’t believe that is happening.

      Let us stop blaming Ruff. The Rangers have numerous problems on defense. The players aren’t excellent. The forwards don’t help much. And even an all-star defense will look bad in front of Lundqvist. We don’t need a bogeyman.

      1. Raymond I hear you but Ruff has sucked his whole coaching life….Had Hasek to prop him up for a while

  17. Hajek has spent enough time in Hartford he needs to play period. Rykov has played with men in Russia and his size and skill are being touted as really good… he needs to play also. Fox is going to play cause he’s pretty good too. In case the FO forgot this is rebuild and you build with new talent. Staal is immovable, time to move Shattenkirk and Smith.

    1. Yes Yes Yes!…and Georgiev better have graduated from Hartford too…He’s earned it

    2. The only way to rate these young defensive players is to play them. We have a thousand D men…This has to be sorted out….

  18. Skjei Trouba
    Staal Fox
    Hajek DeAngelo

    With Lindgren waiting for Staal to be traded.

    Miller and Lundkvist are coming, too

  19. Sorry to post an off-topic but knowing Boston/New England fans like I do that will complain NON-STOP for next few days (or all off-season ) about the referees in tonights game 5 of the final !

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