Alain Vigneault met with the media today in New York, and talked about several topics the Rangers will need to address this summer. According to Dan Rosen of NHL.com, the Rangers will be looking to add youth to their defense corps meaning lesser roles for Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, should they remain with the team next season.
Indeed, the Rangers had just two defenders under the age of 27 play at least 10 games, Brady Skjei and Adam Clendening. While Skjei has a bright future with the team, Clendening is more of a depth player that can’t be counted on for reliable minutes every game. Most of the regular group—Staal, Girardi, Kevin Klein and Nick Holden—will be on the wrong side of 30 when next season begins. Captain Ryan McDonagh will turn 28 this summer and is as effective as ever.
The Rangers have already added 23-year old Alexei Bereglazov this spring, who will have a chance to make an impact in the NHL. Ryan Graves, one of their top prospects in the AHL may be ready for an NHL audition after another successful season, but he is no lock to make the team at this point.
Without players in the system ready to step in, the team will have to look to the trade market if they want to find impact defensemen. Anaheim, Minnesota and Carolina all have a glut of defenders that could fit the “young” mold, and each will have trouble protecting them all in the expansion draft. Josh Manson, Mathew Dumba and Justin Faulk have all had their names rumored at times this season and each skate on the right side, where New York needs the most help. Unlike the last several years, the Rangers still have their first round pick and could dangle it once again for an improvement.
In all, the disappointing loss to the Ottawa Senators seems to have sparked some reflection of the aging and declining defense core that is locked in long-term in New York. It is important to note that though Staal and Girardi both hold no-movement clauses at the moment, Girardi’s changes to a list of just 15 teams on July 1st. Either way it will be difficult to move them, with the Rangers likely needing to retain part of their salary to get a deal done.