It is obvious that the Rangers' playoff hopes rest on the defense, especially the younger guys who will probably need to step up a bit more than last season.
Guys like Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, and Matt Gilroy will need to pick up their play last year, and should not be surprised to find themselves handed more minutes over the season.
In the cases of Staal, Girardi, and Del Zotto, it is clear that the management regard these guys highly.
This past offseason, both Staal and Girardi were RFA's, however Girardi recently signed a 4 year contract with the Rangers.
Staal is still an RFA, however GM Sather has publicly stated that he will match any offer sheet tabled to Staal, so there is no rush in that sense to get anything signed.
20 year old Del Zotto is also highly regarded, as last season he was the youngest defenseman to reach the full roster from training camp, since Brian Leetch who did it as a 19 year old.
He saw time on the power play, finished second in scoring for rookie defensemen, and was even named rookie of the month for October.
The other rookie defenseman on the team, Matt Gilroy didn't have as much of a good time, with rumours saying that Tortorella wanted to send him to Calgary as part of the Jokinen & Prust trade. However, he was sent down to the minors in the end.
Though, if these guys can all step up their play to the next level, increase production, and keep it steady at the blue line, then there is no reason that the Rangers can't do well in the up and coming season.