The New York Rangers are about to make life interesting on both head coach John Tortorella and general manager Glen Sather. The Rangers have signed prospect defenseman Ryan McDonagh and while that’s a great thing overall for the Rangers it puts them in a curious position, one which Glen Sather probably doesn’t mind.
The Rangers are mixed up in a restricted free agency contract battle with young defenseman Marc Staal, one which gets a bit more uncomfortable as time goes on and the Rangers spend money elsewhere. Jess Rubenstein of The Prospect Park, a blog focused on the future of the New York Rangers, points out that McDonagh’s signing only points out the Rangers struggles in getting Staal and fellow restricted free agent defenseman Dan Girardi signed and the tough spot the team finds itself in from that.
Staal has lived with his original Entry Level contract and never complained just went out and did his job. He has watched just about every other defenseman who has joined the Rangers get paid more than he has.
Even Matt Gilroy who wound up finishing the season in the press box made close to twice what Staal made so if I am Marc Staal then I want the money. Staal is the Rangers best defenseman right now and a long dragged out contract dispute will hurt the Rangers more than it will Staal.
The Rangers as it is are not exactly full of solid options for the blueline next season even with Marc Staal in the lineup. As badly as fans want to see Redden and/or Rozsival gone there is nothing in the system to replace them.
Rubenstein later theorizes that if/when the Rangers get all of their defensemen signed, someone’s going to have to get sent down to the Rangers AHL affiliate in Hartford. Sorry Rangers fans, it won’t be megabucks-megabust defenseman Wade Redden. Instead, look for Boston University standout Matt Gilroy to spend his time in Hartford.
The one dangerous position the Rangers find themselves in with their dealings with Staal is being poached by another team. There are plenty of teams who could use a solid, very young defenseman and there’s a lot of teams with the cap space available to sign Staal to an offer sheet. The Rangers, meanwhile, currently sit in a pretty good spot with around $6 million in cap space left to work with. Playing tough with Staal while he’s restricted will do the Rangers no favors in the meantime and certainly not in the future.