Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The 2010-11 season was one filled with injuries not just at the NHL level for the New York Rangers, but throughout their affiliated player ranks. That has continued into the offseason as the number of players undergoing suregery to prepare for next year keeps rising. Today, Michael Del Zotto, who, saw his season end with a broken finger, underwent successful surgery this morning to repair a sports hernia. The timetable for recovery is only three-to-four weeks so there will be plenty of time for Del Zotto to train and prepare for next season prior to training camp. Following a poor sophomore season, Del Zotto will spend much of next year trying to show the promise so many saw after his rookie campaign as a skillful puck moving deferender that could be a power play quarterback.
Posted by Michael Gleich at 3:26 PM
After completing the grades for the 2010-11 New York Rangers forward group yesterday, today it is time to assess the campaigns turned in by the Ranger defensive core and goaltenders.
Marc Staal: Staal continues to be one of the best shutdown defenders in the league. When he plays against the best competition in the league he raises his game to another level. He does have an issue at times in playing against weaker opponents. At 24-years-old he is adding offense to his game as he finished the season with a career high 29 points. There is no more important member of the defense core than Staal and only Henrik Lundqvist might be more important to the team in terms of irreplaceability. Grade: A
Dan Girardi: Girardi had a phenomenal first half of the season, but had some dip in the second half of the year. The dip could have been caused by the 236 shots he blocked this year or the fact he was playing through a hernia injury. Speed still hurts Girardi and he is prone to having goals deflect in off him, but there is no questioning his toughness. Grade: A-
Michael Sauer: Of all Rangers’ defensive players none were more consistent than Michael Sauer. An afterthought coming into camp he made the team and progressively moved up the depth chart to someone who is a reliable second pair defender that you have no fear playing against even top line competition. He will not wow with offensive numbers, but he is a steady player who has excellent defensive positioning, clears his crease and is the most protective of his goaltender. His intelligence on the ice is excellent and showed itself more as the season went along on the offensive side in reading the playing and always making the right read. Grade: A
Ryan McDonagh: After struggling initially with Hartford, McDonagh got better and better as the year went along. From nearly his first shift in the NHL he showed that he belonged at this level and was capable of not only playing here, but being a key contributor on defense. For long stretches of the second half of the year his pairing with Michael Sauer, if not his individual play, was the best of the Rangers’ defense. McDonagh is a tremendous skater who plays sound positional hockey and has some physicality to his game. As he matures, much like Marc Staal, he will slowing integrate more offense into the equation. He will be a building block for the next decade on the blue line. Grade: A-
Steve Eminger: The lack of expectation for Eminger certainly helped how he was viewed this season by the fans. He was a solid defender who played adequately when he was in the lineup and at different points brought some physicality to his game. He played his best hockey when the Rangers were in search of veteran play during the injury to Michal Rozsival early in the year and that makes his year a success. Unlikely to be back next season, but to get the year he gave New York in a deal for Aaron Voros is another good trade by Sather. Grade: B
Matt Gilroy: Gilroy was solid when called upon this season, but never really gained a firm grasp on a roster spot. His defense was improved over his rookie season and while not great was adequate for the most part. His offense didn’t seem to take that next step during the regular season. He showed more flashes of the offense in the playoffs when he was willing to use his skating ability to attack the opposition. Gilroy, if cheap is the kind of player the Rangers could use as a 6th/7th defenseman next season. Grade: B-
Michael Del Zotto: The questions concerning Del Zotto starting the season were all on the defensive side of the ice and while he still had some struggles there in year two, the bigger issues were with his utter lack of offensive production. His stretch passes which were critical to his game as a rookie never connected this year. His confidence in carrying the puck was gone, but his attempts to make the huge play never left and cost the team more than it ever paid off. The supposed power play quarterback was pulled off the unit and sent down to Hartford multiple times before having his season ended with a broken hand. Hopefully he will learn from the sophomore slump and bounce back next season as the Rangers desperately need a puck moving defenseman and at 20 the potential is still there. Grade: D
Bryan McCabe: The McCabe trade was one that was meant to spark the power play and at times he did, but not enough to warrant coming back. When he first arrived he was doing exactly what was expected of him in bringing some veteran experience and firing the puck at any and all opportunities but by the time the playoffs rolled around he stopped looking for his shot. Grade: C-
Henrik Lundqvist: Amazing how far away the early season struggles of Lundqivst seem at this point, but once again the King showed why he is the one to sit on the throne for the Rangers. He had another excellent season, but his value was only heightened by the late season injury to Martin Biron which forced Lundqvist into action for the final 26 games of the season. He carried the team again into contention and this year back into the playoffs with another tremendous stretch run. Grade: A
Martin Biron: You cannot ask for more from your backup goaltender than what Biron gave the Rangers this season before having his campaign cut short by a broken collarbone. When he was given the call, Biron not only gave the Rangers a chance in seemingly every start, but won games as well. Arguably the best free agent move Glen Sather has made in recent memory. When he is not playing he needs to be both assistant coach and MSG analyst as he is more qualified than the people who currently hold those positions. Grade: A
Posted by Michael Gleich at 10:00 AM