The Rangers aren’t expressing much optimism about captain Ryan McDonagh‘s availability for the start of their opening-round playoff series against Pittsburgh.
In fact, they’ve already moved onto potential replacements.
“I would say at this point, there’s a chance [McDonagh] might be able to play at some point,” head coach Alain Vigneault said, per NorthJersey.com.
AV then suggested that Raphael Diaz — the journeyman blueliner that’s spent almost the entire year in AHL Hartford — could be brought up as a stopgap blueline solution.
Diaz does have playoff experience — 12 games, including four with the Rangers en route to the ’14 Stanley Cup Final — but has been largely out of the mix this season, and actually signed a deal to return to play in his native Switzerland for next season.
McDonagh, who hasn’t played since injuring his hand blocking a shot against Columbus on Apr. 2, has been skating in a non-contact role. New York opens its first-round series against Pittsburgh tomorrow at Consol.