NHL Free Agency: Should NY Rangers Sign Any of Remaining Available Defensemen?
After the blockbuster acquisition of superstar Rick Nash, the New York Rangers' roster is close to being set for the 2012-13 season. There's room for one more forward, and New York could elect to bring in one more player (Shane Doan anyone?) or leave the spot open and allow for competition between rookies.
But what about the Rangers' defense?
Recently, New York locked up defenseman Anton Stralman to a new two-year, $3.4 million contract after a surprisingly effective season in which Stralman was picked up off the scrap heap from the New Jersey Devils. The team is still working on a deal to lock up 22-year-old blueliner Michael Del Zotto.
Assuming Del Zotto is locked up, it still leaves one more spot on the Blueshirt back line that needs to be filled. If healthy, it would go to Michael Sauer. However, he's still on the comeback trail from a concussion suffered last season and cannot be counted on to take a spot.
Therefore, New York has a decision to make. Should they just allow for prospects in their system to compete for one more spot on defense? Or should the team bring in a free agent to fill the void?
Here are the remaining free-agent defenseman and whether New York should considering signing them...or avoid them.
Matt Gilroy: AVOID
In 67 games last season, Gilroy finished with three goals, 17 assists and plus-two rating.
Could New York and Gilroy be of service to each other? Not likely.
Despite being a right-handed shot—something the Rangers need—Gilroy lacks the defensive skill set and physicality to be effective in Tortorella's system.
Brett Clark: CONSIDER
Despite being 35 years old and a left-handed shot, Brett Clark could still be of service to the Rangers.
His 199 blocked shots with the Lightning last season would be his biggest asset to New York, and despite his age, Clark still shows he can be adequate as a bottom-pairing defenseman.
Clark doesn't come without baggage as he finished last season minus-26 and saw a reduction of points from 31 the previous season to 15 last year. However, a reduced role with the Blueshirts may maximize his talents.
Jaroslav Spacek: AVOID
Jaroslav Spacek's offensive skill set and big shot from the point would be welcomed additions to a Rangers back line that lacks both. However, at age 38, who knows how much gas is left in the tank with the former Carolina Hurricane.
In 46 games last season, Spacek only had 15 points—one less from his 2010-11 campaign with the Montreal Canadiens.
He's been steady defensively in his career, however, coming off a three-year contract with an annual cap hit of $3.83 million, Spacek wouldn't be looking to take a hefty pay cut—something he'd have to do in order to play on Broadway next season.
Carlo Colaiacovo: AVOID
Carlo Colaiacovo is still a useful, second-pair defenseman for any NHL team. It's a matter of whether that team is willing to deal with his constant injury problems.
He's only 29, but Colaiacovo has never played an entire NHL season. Last year, for example, he dealt with four separate injury issues, missing 18 games total.
New York can't afford to sign a defenseman for depth to only have him guaranteed to be on IR at some point during the season.
Scott Hannan: CONSIDER
Reliable. Durable. A gamer. Those characteristics describe what John Tortorella wants in his players. It's also how you would describe free-agent defenseman Scott Hannan.
At 33, Hannan can still log big minutes in important situations. Last season with Calgary, Hannan blocked 126 shots (second on the team) and played in all situations, including averaging 20:21 of ice time and 2:50 of shorthanded ice time.
Hannan's coming off a one-year, $1 million deal with the Flames. If he's willing to do a similar contract, New York should take a gamble.
Pavel Kubina: AVOID
Splitting time with Tampa Bay and Philadelphia last season, Pavel Kubina is looking for a new home next season.
It just won't be with the Rangers.
Kubina is 35, coming off a contract with an annual cap hit of $3.85 million, and as an offensive defenseman by trade, a season of just 15 points. His last season where he scored double digit goals was the 2008-09 season with the Maple Leafs.
He still possesses a booming shot and great size (6'4'', 258 lbs) but is a shell of his former self.
Michal Rozsival: AVOID
Everyone likes a reunion tour, don't they? Just not in this instance.
Former Ranger Michal Rozsival was traded to Phoenix for Wojtek Wolski a few seasons ago and has bounced back and forth between injuries. His age (33) and diminishing skills are not very enticing.
Rozsival logs minutes and can move the puck—that's where the productivity stops. He's not very physical, doesn't block shots or contribute enough offensively (13 points in 54 games).
He's a right-handed shot and would only be counted on to play 12-15 minutes a night. However, Rozsival's better days are long gone.
Kurtis Foster: CONSIDER
This should be prefaced by saying New York should consider Kurtis Foster, but not as their first option.
Splitting time between Anaheim, New Jersey and Minnesota last season, Foster finished the 2011-12 season with just 14 points in 51 games. An offensive and power-play specialist, Foster only tallied two points on the man advantage.
Foster's best season came during the 2009-10 season with Tampa Bay, logging 42 points in 71 games. Perhaps playing with the likes of Brad Richards and Rick Nash on the man advantage would rekindle his offensive spark?
John Tortorella could have the "Stralman" effect on Foster, demanding better conditioning and solid two-way play from the rearguard.
It's surely not the best option for New York, but an option nonetheless.
Milan Jurcina: AVOID
At only 29 years old and standing 6'4'', 253 pounds, Milan Jurcina could be an option for the Rangers' bottom-defense pair. He possesses a right-handed shot that's used frequently (127 shots last season).
However, Jurcina's size presents a foot-speed issue.
He's battled speed and conditioning issues on Long Island. Jurcina would have a difficult time keeping up in Tortorella's up-tempo stylem, and if you can't keep up with your men, it leads to defensive breakdowns.
Chris Campoli: CONSIDER
Despite suffering a freak hamstring injury limiting him to half a season in 2011-12, defenseman Chris Campoli can be of use to whichever team elects to sign him.
John Tortorella likes his defenseman to be able to move the puck quickly, make smart decisions with the puck and join the rush at the right times—all things Campoli is capable of. Plus he's still relatively young at 28 years old.
He is a lefty, isn't very physical and has lapses in defensive coverage. Despite this, Campoli could come to New York on the cheap. He's coming off an injury and may take a one-year deal—like he has the last two offseasons—to re-establish his value for a bigger contract next summer.