The New York Rangers GM Glen Sather has had a rough summer thus far. He has lost three key pieces to last year’s Eastern Conference Champion team — Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman and Benoit Pouliot — bought out Brad Richards without finding a viable replacement and is struggling to sign high impact free agents due to salary cap restrictions. Next summer should be even tougher, as key players like Marc Staal, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin are up for new deals. As of right now, the Rangers will have no choice but to offer an extension to Staal.
Staal hasn’t turned into the dominant two-way defenseman we once thought he could be. A multitude of injuries have derailed his career even though he is still a solid defenseman. Since playing in every game during the 2009-10 season, Staal has only played in 216 of a possible 294 games, a paltry 73 percent. He has yet to score double-digit goals in a season and hasn’t recorded more than 20 points since the 2010-11 season.
However, despite all of Staal’s flaws, the Rangers don’t have a viable option to replace him in their system if he were to be traded or let walk next summer. The Rangers’ best choice to replace Staal would be Brady Skjei, who is still playing at the University of Minnesota and is still a year away at minimum from joining the Rangers. They also wouldn’t be able to replace him via free agency, as teams are making it a priority to sign their big-time defenseman before they hit the open market. Also, the free-agent class for defenseman in 2015 is not one where you would be able to find a long-term answer for a top four defenseman.
As of right now, the Rangers don’t have a lot of options in regards to Staal. He is no longer a kid, but they have no other options to replace him if they were to let him get to free agency next summer. Sather and the Rangers’ brass have no choice but to extend Staal before next June.