Rangers Off-Season: What's Needed on Defense?

Nick PerriAnalyst IJuly 10, 2010

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 30: Michael Del Zotto #4 of the New York Rangers skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on March 30, 2010 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Defense: The action of defending from or resisting attack," is the definition given by “West’s Encyclopedia of American Law." For the Rangers defense could be put as Henrik Lundqvist. Now I would understand if you are saying “What about MDZ, Staal, and Girardi?” Well, the thing is they were only good for a portion of the season. You could make a fight for Marc Staal, but MDZ, and Girardi were good for a portion of the season.

That portion, like the offense, was at the beginning of the season. Like the offense, a few months into the season the defense forgot what they had to do. There job was to keep shots and players alike, away from Henrik Lundqvist; which they didn’t. There are a few things that must be done to fix the Rangers defense. A few moves and changes here and there could make this team’s defense great.

During the 2009-10 seasons training camp, the Rangers organization had to feel that the defense wasn’t going to be as good as the 2008-09 seasons defense. Not only because we didn’t have Tom Renney, a great back-checking coach, but because we lost a couple of d-men to Free Agency. One was named Derek Morris.

No, Morris was not a blast in his time with the Rangers, but I think Sather could have at least tried to keep him in New York. The other was Paul Mara. During his time with the Rangers, he became one of my favorite players. He hustled, fought, blocked shots, and stood up for his teammates (including Henrik Lundqvist).

Sather was unable to bring Mara back to New York, making it a tougher season for the New York Rangers defense. Another thing that hurt the Rangers defense was Sather did absolutely nothing to help them during free agency. Except for the signing of Matt Gilroy, nothing was done on defense. The Rangers defensemen played well for a good amount of time, but once December/January hit, the defense was nowhere to be found.

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I feel like I’m the only one who thought the Rangers defense stunk last season. Did no one else see players uncovered right in the crease of our goaltenders? Did no one else notice how many odd man rushes there were last season? I guess not. I’m guessing that’s because Lundqvist hid the fact that our defense sucked. If it weren’t for him in net, the Rangers would’ve surrendered 5 goals a night.

The “King” was there to save us. One example in which you could’ve probably noticed how horrific our defense was, was in the game against the Sharks. You know the one where the Rangers lost 7-3 with Steve Valiquette in net?

No, it wasn’t entirely his fault, but it showed that the Rangers needed more than just defense; they needed a back-up goalie. A back-up goalie was another player that Sather failed to sign, when instead he was signing Ales Kotalik and Donald Brashear to ludicrous offers. Those are things that need to be changed, and the Rangers are currently trying new options to fix it.

Knowing that defense is a part that the Rangers need to get better in, Glen Sather has already started making moves to benefit the defense. By adding Mcdonagh, and resigning Girardi, he has partially fixed the defensive holes. Slats also solidifies the back-up goalie spot by signing Martin Biron. He also recently traded away an unneeded player (Aaron Voros), and a minor leaguer (Ryan Hiller) to Anaheim for defenseman Steve Eminger.

This trade was made to add some depth to the Rangers defense. He can be used in the starting 6, or as a 7th defenseman. I believe he’ll probably be used in the top 6 though. Currently the Rangers have MDZ, Girardi, Gilroy, Rozsival, Redden, Eminger, and McDonagh on defense. That’s 7 defenseman. It’s expected that the Rangers are going to resign Marc Staal. Because of their limited cap space, the Rangers will need to move a player or two to bring Staal back.

With the pick-up of Eminger, it’s believed that Wade Redden will very soon be waived to Hartford, brining his massive cap-hit with him. That will open up space and money to resign Staal, and it could leave some extra money for another pick-up which could help the team offensively, or defensively. It’s also been rumored that Glen Sather is trying to find a trading partner for Matt Gilroy, or Michael Rozsival. There aren’t many details following the rumors, but they sound intriguing.

Glen Sather is doing the right thing for his defense right now. With limited talent in Free Agency, finding a trade partner is the best way to get something you desire. Getting Eminger was a very good move by Sather, and it should help in the long run. More moves are needed to help this defensive core. Waiving Wade Redden would be a start to rebuilding the defense, making another trade would just be a bonus (depending on who is part of the deal).

Which will be done? Well, Andrew Gross of Blueshirt Banter talked with Glen Sather about moves he has made, and may make during Free Agency. Sather briefly stated that he is not done making moves, and he is still looking to add, and subtract a few more players. So Ranger fans, if I were you I’d add ESPN mobile alerts to your cell phones, because more moves are bound to be made.

It is hard to tell what Glen Sather will do as far as trading goes. I can tell there are teams looking for defense, and willing to give away decent players in return for Michael Rozsival or Matt Gilroy. Will a move be made today? Maybe. Will Wade Redden finally be waived? Probably. When will he be waived? Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. All I know is that Sather is looking at his options, and that option is heavily favored.