Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bringing Back Eminger As Defensive Insurance Would Be Smart Decision For Rangers

There will be a lot of talk this summer about the Rangers needing to acquire/sign a veteran defenseman for their young defensive corps.  It is true that if Del Zotto rebounds and Tim Erixon makes the team out of came the Rangers will open the season with Dan Girardi as the oldest defender at 27.  Also true would be the fact that the Rangers bottom four defenders would all have less than two full seasons of experience at the NHL level.  What is not true though is that the organization needs to bring in someone to solve that problem.  This team showed last season that being young was not necessarily a bad thing and that there was enough game experience, even if not at the NHL level, for the key players to succeed.  The team could use a solid seventh defenseman who is capable of playing, but also able to sit for long periods of time and still contribute when called upon.  One such player could be Steve Eminger.

When the Rangers acquired Steve Eminger from the Anaheim Ducks last summer for Aaron Voros it was a shot at getting something for nothing.  After a disappointing preseason, Eminger picked up his play considerably when the Rangers needed it most and was on his way to a very solid season.  His play would dip some in the second half and that combined with the Rangers roster decisions had him in the press box for much of the end of the season.  Overall Eminger played solidly during his first season with the Blueshirts. 
He is not going to be a huge offensive contributor or even a defensive stopper, but Eminger does have the ability to be solid and eat minutes on the third pair of defense.  What he also provided, to the enjoyment of coach John Tortorella, was a physical presence in someone that was willing to throw the body.  

Bringing Eminger back at the 6/7 defender in the group, depending on Del Zotto and Erixon, is a smart and inexpensive move for Sather to make this summer.  He showed he could be a good locker room guy in the way he handled his being scratched and was able to step into more important roles when injuries necessitated him doing so.  He does not have the upside that Gilroy does offensively, but he is better in his own end and provides more experience to go with the young defense corps.