The New York Rangers have reportedly opened up contract negotiations with defenseman Dan Girardi. Girardi is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and has been one of the Rangers’ best defenseman for a long time.
Girardi went undrafted in the 2003 NHL Draft and signed as a free agent with the Rangers. Once he was called up he became a mainstay on the blue line and developed into one of the league’s best shutdown defenseman. His play went to another level when John Tortorella took over the Rangers in 2009 as Girardi blossomed to a different level. This culminated during the 2011-12 season when Girardi was named to his first and only All-Star game.
During Tortorella’s tenure, Girardi was the poster boy for the identity the Rangers built. The core that came up with Tortorella included Girardi, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Marc Staal. They all bought into the blue collar style that Tortorella brought.
Now that Alain Vigneault is the new head coach some of Girardi’s weaknesses have shown. He is not the best puck mover in the world and does not have great speed. Girardi has also put his body through a lot over the years. He logged heavy minutes over the last few years and is not getting any younger. It also doesn’t help that Ryan McDonagh has clearly taken over the role as the Rangers’ best defenseman.
The Rangers would be smart to give Girardi an extension since he is a leader on the ice and is loved by the fans. General manager Glen Sather should think about giving Girardi a two to three year extension, but if they give Girardi anymore than three years it would be a mistake given the beating his body has taken over the past couple of years.
Girardi is an important piece for the Rangers for the next couple of years. The Rangers have to be careful about how long they want him around so they don’t get caught up with bad contracts in the future.