Why New York Rangers Defense Will Be Nothing To Brag About in 2010-11

Nick PerriAnalyst IAugust 29, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 11:  Michal Rozsival #33 of the New York Rangers skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 11, 2010 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Rangers 2-1 after a shootout. The victory clinched a playoff berth for Philadelphia.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Season Preview No. 2: Defense Preview

Two seasons ago, the Rangers had what looked to be one of the best defensive teams in the league, ending the season number one in penalty kill percentage and seventh in goals against. Last season they dropped from first to seventh in penalty kill percentage, and from seventh to eighth in goals against. The drops may look innocent right now, but the Rangers defense only looks as if it’s getting worse.

The Rangers haven’t made any big changes on defense, which means they haven’t got any better.

The changes from last season’s defense consist of additions Steve Eminger, Jyri Niemi, and Ryan McDonagh. Glen Sather also resigned defenseman Dan Girardi while Rangers fans await a Marc Staal contract to be signed. Again, no big changes so they are almost identical to last season’s defense.

Will the new defensemen have an effect on the Rangers?

Steve Eminger was added for depth on defense, but I still think he can make a difference on the Rangers defense. He is a veteran defenseman who has talent on defense, and talent on offense. While I can see Eminger used as a utility seventh defenseman, I can also see him used in the top six, and given a chance on the power-play.

Ryan McDonagh will come into training camp hoping for a job on the Rangers defensive squad. Ryan McDonagh has a very bright and successful future ahead of him, and by allowing him to play in the NHL right away may have a good effect on him. Giving him a season in the AHL wouldn’t be terrible, but if he is ready I think he should play.

Jyri Niemi can be considered a steal by Glen Sather. When he traded a draft pick for young Niemi, he knew what type of player he was getting. Though Niemi will probably spend the season in the AHL (unless an injury occurs to a Ranger), when he earns a spot on the team he will bring an excellent defensive game, with a good amount of offensive talent.

What are the Rangers still missing on defense?

The big hole happens to be a crease-clearing defenseman. I do not see Dylan Mcilrath making the team this season, and the Rangers missed out on Willie Mitchell, the Rangers are in need of a crease-clearer. The only way they can add one happens to be through trade.

The Rangers are also in need of a quality veteran defenseman.

Wade Redden and Michael Rozsival are not quality veteran defenseman. Steve Eminger is a good addition, but not the best veteran defenseman the Rangers need. Options are out there for the Rangers, and Glen Sather may attempt to acquire a defenseman if a deal with Marc Staal does not fall through.

My projected defensive lines (note: lines are subject to change as offseason progresses)

Line one: Marc Staal/Dan Girardi

Yes, I put Staal in the opening night roster. Let’s face it, if he is given an offer sheet Sather will likely match it, or if an offer sheet is not given Staal will not want to miss out on training camp, preseason, and a potential first week of the season. He will be forced to sign. But anyways, this would be a quality first line with two of the Rangers better defenseman. It would likely work out fine.

Line two: Michael Del Zotto/Michael Rozsival

This line worked okay last season, and if no big changes are made I don’t see any reason why this line would be broken up. Del Zotto is not ready for the first line, so one more season as a top-four defensemen would only help him.

Line three: Steve Eminger/Ryan McDonagh

Steve Eminger belongs on the Rangers, and has what it takes to help the Rangers defense. I think it would be a bonus having him play with young Ryan McDonagh, though he isn’t the best veteran defenseman out there he has been around for a while, and he could really help McDonagh through his first season.

Projected Statistic leaders:

Goals: Michael Del Zotto 15

Assists: Michael Del Zotto 20

Points: Michael Del Zotto 35

Thanks for the read, hope you enjoyed. Feel free to leave any comment below.

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