New York Rangers Need To Add Affordable Snarl to Blueline

Greg CaggianoSenior Writer IJuly 16, 2009

As the New York Rangers put the finishing touches on next season's roster, it is clear that there are a few holes in the line up. First, they are missing a true No. 1 center, but as I have written in previous articles, I believe a trade for one will be happening shortly.

Next they are missing a defenseman to serve as a puck mover and a power play specialist; not someone easily acquired but not the hardest trade to make. The final missing piece is a hard-nosed, checking defenseman.

Out of all those holes, there is only one that can be filled with a player who will make under a million dollars; and that is the hard-hitting defenseman.

When was the last time the Rangers had that intimidating player on the blue line?

The player that instilled fear in opponents as they entered the zone and crashed toward the net. The player that made you have to be aware of your surroundings because if you weren't, he would nail you.

It's been far too long; years actually. Since Jeff Beukeboom retired in 1999, the Rangers have never had that player. You can count Darius Kasparaitis, but he was slowed down by age as was a shell of his former self. I guess the only true hard-hitting defenseman this team has had since the lockout was Erik Reitz from last season.

How sad is that?

It is time that the Rangers added that force to their defensive corps that is stock-piled with youth and offense, but heavily lacks any physicality.

The answer to that problem is Kyle McLaren.

Known as one of the hardest hitting defensemen in the league, McLaren was so badly out of shape last season that he ended up spending it in the San Jose Shark's AHL affiliate before being traded to Philadelphia. After the trade, he failed a physical. So why on earth should the Rangers want him?

McLaren, after failing a physical, will be motivated to get himself back in shape so he can be NHL caliber again. At only 32 years of age, his career in professional hockey is far from over and Glen Sather is never shy about giving players second chances. 

He can still lay the big checks and he can still fight with the best of enforcers which makes him the perfect candidate to be the Rangers' seventh defenseman this season. With over 700 games of NHL experience, and 70 games in the playoffs, he would be the perfect player to take that job of playing 30-40 games.

The Rangers do have plenty of young defensemen who fans will want to be the seventh defenseman, but I wouldn't want a player like Corey Potter or Michael Sauer sitting for half a season when they could be playing full-time and continuing their development in Hartford.

The Rangers should seriously think about sending him a training camp invite. People will love to write him off as a has-been, but what is the harm in giving him a try out?

If he comes to camp and is horrific, then he gets cut and doesn't get paid a dime since it was only an invite to begin with. But if he plays like his former self and brings the much needed snarl to the blue line, then he can get a contract of around the league minimum.

After all, the answer can never be yes if you don't ask the question.

Greg Caggiano is a writer on Bleacher Report covering the New York Rangers. He has a New York area sports teams blog called Metro-Sports, where you can read great articles about all professional sports teams that play in the area by a dedicated team of young writers.