The New York Rangers’ possible depth issues were highlighted during a double-overtime game against the Washington Capitals in the 2012 playoffs. While the team’s top four of Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Michael del Zotto received at least 43:33 of ice time each, Stu Bickel played less than four minutes.
That’s an extreme example, but it spotlights their defense’s biggest question going into next season.
Getting a healthy Michael Sauer back would help quite a bit. He hasn’t played since Dec. 5 and John Tortorella admitted that he might not be ready for training camp, though.
Seeing more progress from Anton Stralman would be another way the Rangers might see some improvement from their bottom pairing. Stralman’s ice time dropped in his first season with the Rangers, but at 25, there’s room to grow.
It might not be time for a prospect to emerge, though. While the team’s offensive prospects (such as Chris Kreider) are generating excitement, Hockey’s Future tabs Tim Erixon and Dylan McIlrath as their most notable blueliners. Those names aren’t quite as promising, although Erixon did play 18 games last season (collecting two assists and a -2 rating).