Rangers Need More Experience and Less Salary On Their Blue Line

NEW YORK - MARCH 18: Andy McDonald #10 of the St. Louis Blues shoots the puck in front of Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Rangers fans love to talk about the Wade Redden contract because it’s such an insanely messed up situation. If they didn’t talk about it, an ulcer might eat through their very souls.

I just read the Flames are over the cap and rumors are starting to bubble up about Robin Regehr maybe being on the trading block, should he decide to waive his no-trade clause.

He’s got a cap hit of a little over $4 million/year, with three years left on the deal.

There’s not a huge market for a defenseman who costs that much but is basically a stay-at-home, one-dimensional kind of guy.

But it just so happens the Rangers could use a defenseman like that. And they’re looking to shed Redden, by trade or by AHL exile. The Rangers have dealt with Calgary before, so why couldn’t a deal get done?

Right. Redden’s $6.5 million contract which doesn’t expire until 2014. The contract that makes Regehr look like a bargain.

The crazy thing is, I believe Rangers GM Glen Sather will trade Redden. He’s done a miraculous job of trading away untradeable players (Ales Kotalik, Donald Brashear, and Christopher Higgins are but a few of the more recent mistakes Sather has made disappear) and I think he’s not going to eat Redden’s contract until he absolutely has no choice.

Of course, the Rangers are already over the cap and have yet to sign defenseman Marc Staal, a restricted free agent. Unless Staal decides to pay to play, the Redden issue is going to need to be resolved.

The Staal negotiations have been interesting to watch. Despite ostensibly being the team’s top defenseman, Staal really hasn’t developed the way the team hoped he would. A lot of that has been inconsistent coaching messages. At times, he’s been asked to step-up as an offensive defenseman, since he has a decent shot. But that’s caused horrible defensive lapses, so at other times, he’s been asked to be a shut-down defenseman, despite not having a lot of size.

So rather than focus on really solidifying one aspect of his game before moving onto another, he’s been forced to shift gears, five to ten games at a time.

A huge part of that is due to the Staal pedigree. The team expects a lot due to who his brothers are (Eric of Carolina and Jordan of Pittsburgh) and they’ve sacrificed a lot of his development because his brothers came into the league so NHL-ready. They’ve pushed Marc to be a top NHL defenseman when he might have benefitted from a bit of an extended apprenticeship in the AHL.

The Rangers have obviously noticed Staal isn’t as complete a defenseman as they would like him to be, but they’ve spent so much time on him, it would be tough to walk away from their investment. Plus, they don’t have many better options. So they need to give him enough of a contract that he feels the team appreciates him, but not a cap-busting contract that would make him difficult to trade should a better opportunity present itself.

So the Rangers defense is in an amazing place. They have an NHL-quality defenseman who’ll probably wind up in the AHL for cap-space reasons and a guy who could maybe use some AHL seasoning up in the NHL, so the team can save face (and because of a lack of blue line depth).

Suddenly Darryl Sutter’s problems in Calgary don’t seem quite so bad.