This is the fifth article in a short series of in-depth looks at the top New York Rangers players who are 25 years of age or younger.
On a team that features defensemen Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival, and Marc Staal, Dan Girardi is almost certainly a forgotten man.
Lucky for the Rangers, Girardi's presence plays the opposite role in the minds of his opponents.
The 24-year-old's proclivity for heads-up defensive plays, ability to play the body, and keen ice vision have helped him become one of the Rangers' top young defensive stars.
Although Girardi is not known as a goal-scorer, he managed 10 goals and added 18 assists in his first full season with the New York Rangers. And by full, I mean just that. Girardi didn't miss a game.
He has shown some scoring touch, posting 39 points in 66 games with the Hartford Wolfpack in 2005-06, and 24 points in 45 games the next season. Those two excellent years prompted the Rangers to sign the Welland, Ontario native in 2006. He finished off that season with the Rangers with a plus-seven rating, ninth among NHL rookies.
Despite his feisty play, Girardi has shown himself to be very accessible and honest, most notably in regard to his friendship with teammate Ryan Callahan, whom he had befriended a few years earlier in their years together on the Guelph Storm of the OHL.
The solid defenseman signed a $3.1 million, two-year deal with the NY Rangers earlier this year—not bad for an undrafted free agent.
Girardi played a lot with now-departed Ranger Fedor Tyutin, so it will be interesting to see where Renney puts him, perhaps with a scorer like Rozsival or a soon-to-be-scorer like Marc Staal.
Either way, fans have plenty to be pumped about with the emergence of one of the Rangers' bright young players.
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