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Why the Marc Staal signing was the right move for the Rangers

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers locked up Marc Staal for another six years, locking up their defensive core for the next few seasons. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

On Friday, January 16th, the Rangers signed 28 year old defenseman Marc Staal to a six year, $34.2 million deal that will pay him $5.7 million per season through the 2020-21 season. The deal also includes a no move clause through the first three years, and a modified no trade clause through the final three years.

It was also nice to see that the deal was done quickly and professionally, rather than being dragged out until the trade deadline or the offseason.

While the 6-foot-4 Staal has been taken off of the team’s power play unit in recent years, Staal is still a vital member of the Rangers penalty kill, and has played the shutdown defensive role that the team needs from him this season.

Staal has also stepped up at crucial moments for the Rangers, especially when Ryan McDonagh and Dan Boyle were injured. This shows in the fact that Staal has played at least 200 5-on-5 minutes alongside Dan Girardi, Dan Boyle, and Kevin Klein, showing his versatility in the Rangers lineup.

While Staal’s possession numbers, he is often paired against some of the best offensive talent in the NHL on a daily basis. With an assist last night, he now has nine points (2-7-9) and a +9 rating. Staal is not on the ice for many goals against, and is really one of the strongest defenders on the team.

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Mark Staal has some of the better Corsi stats and possession stats, despite starting over 35% of his shifts in the defensive zone. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Dan Girardi, who plays alongside Ryan McDonagh, starts fewer of his shifts in the defensive zone than Staal does. Staal starts over 35% of his shifts in the defensive zone, with Girardi and McDonagh being the only other players above 30 percent. He also is posting a Corsi for of 47.5% despite starting most of his shifts in the defensive zone. That stat is also higher than McDonagh and Girardi.

The gripe that some people seem to have against Staal is the fact that he may be the third best defenseman on the team. However, it is not Staal’s fault that he happens to play on the same team as Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, two outstanding defensemen. Staal would be the best defenseman, at least defensively, and a majority of the teams in the NHL. The Rangers are fortunate enough to have three strong defensemen in McDonagh, Staal, and Girardi, as well as two more key contributors in Kevin Klein and Dan Boyle.

The Rangers have been a defensively conscious team for a long time now, and losing Staal would disrupt the style of play and eliminate a reliable, strong defensive player that makes the Rangers one of the strongest teams in the league right now. Staal was drafted by the Rangers in 2005, knows the system, and has been a strong defensive player throughout his career.

With players like Kevin Klein and Dan Boyle contributing to the offense from the blue line, Staal does not need to worry about goal scoring as much, and can focus on his defensive game, which he has done, playing some very tough minutes, and doing a great job at that.

However, there are some repercussions to every deal, and this one does have some. With Staal earning $5.7 million a year, the Rangers have $41.6 million dollars invested in eight players (Lundqvist, Nash, Staal, Girardi, Brassard, McDonagh, Klein, and Glass) through the 2017 season, which doesn’t leave much money for all of the free agents.

After this season, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Martin St. Louis and others are all going to be free agents following this season. With so much money invested in the back end, could someone like Mats Zuccarello or Carl Hagelin be left out?

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With so much money invested in the Rangers back end, could Mats Zuccarello be on the way out next season? Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

The signing of Marc Staal is important for keeping the Rangers strong defense intact, but it doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for this offeason.

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Posted on January 21, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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