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The Rangers had one of the best defensive corps last season, and that shouldn't change this year.
The first order of business is to get Michael Del Zotto under contract. He's a restricted free agent, and there's no reason why the team wouldn't re-sign him. With the season coming up so soon, an impetus for a deal is greater.
Assuming Del Zotto re-signs, the defensive pairings would likely look something like this:
- Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
- Marc Staal-Michael Del Zotto
- Anton Stralman-Stu Bickel/Steve Eminger
The biggest battle in shortened camp will be for that sixth defense spot. Stu Bickel spent most of the time in that role last year, but he was prone to mistakes and would often spend games buried on the bench. Steve Eminger is steadier but does not provide the physical presence that Bickel does.
If there are any injuries, the team would look to Matt Gilroy, who has the most NHL experience of anyone in the minors. If not him, Logan Pyett would be a solid choice.
The Rangers have some of the best defensive players in the league. If one of them goes down, the depth is solid but not terrific. Losing one for an extended period of time could be a tough pill to swallow.