Sam McCraig continued his offseason rankings by position today over at Puck Daddy today by ranking the top 25 defenseman in the NHL for next season and New York Rangers stalwart Marc Staal checked in at #20.
20. Marc Staal, NY Rangers: Physical rearguard is blending in some offense to his no-nonsense game.
To see Staal where he is on the list is not shocking simply because of his lack of offense. Staal is among the NHL’s elite shutdown defensemen and few will argue that point, but until he adds a consistent threat of offense to his game, he will not get the recognition overall as one of the elite overall defenders. Yes, Staal was an All-Star last season and that means he was considered among the top 12 defenders in the league for the first half, but the recognition I am talking about is more in the subjective assessments like deciding who is amongst the top defenders in the league.
Staal has shown flashes of the added offense the past two years, and anything more he could add would certainly be welcomed, but Staal’s importance to the Rangers is more in preventing goals than creating them. His need to improve in how he clears the crease and defends Henrik Lundqvist are bigger issues for the team than his offense.