Monday, September 19, 2011

Staal Suffers Setback Dealing With Concussion Symptoms; Rangers Looking For Veteran Defender?

Yesterday it was revealed that All-Star defenseman Marc Staal was dealing with lingering effects of a concussion he suffered February 22, 2011 against the Carolina Hurricanes.  According to Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants the news gets worse today as Staal has suffered a setback in his recovery and was sent home today.
“He really didn’t feel well,” Tortorella said. “This is a fluid situation.”
“We’ll see how he feels and we’ll talk tomorrow,” Tortorella added. “This is how it’s going to be. We’re erring on the side of caution.”
The fact that the team is erring on the side of caution is a great thing as I talked about yesterday, but the need for concern is upon us.  Anytime your top defender, especially one that plays as important a role as Marc Staal is injured there are issues for the team.  Making that concern more real is the unpredictable nature of concussions and the impacts changing from day to day.  The fact that nearly 7 months after the hit he is still having symptoms makes the whole scenario that much more concerning for the Rangers and Staal.
With concern about Staal and tendinitis issues for Michael Sauer, who scored a goal in his first scrimmage today, the Rangers are in the market for another veteran defender to add to the club according to Gross’ reporting.
“Even prior to this with Marc being up and down, we’re looking,” Tortorella said.
It is somewhat surprising that the Rangers are looking outside the organization when they have Tim Erixon, Pavel Valentenko and Michael Del Zotto as young players that can compete for spots, but maybe Steve Eminger’s veteran experience is not enough for the organization to feel completely comfortable with the young defense corps.  It should also be noted that Tortorella saying that the team is looking does not mean they are actively shopping for anyone, but just keeping an eye on who might become available as the season approaches which all teams should always be doing. 

Del Zotto Biggest Loser If Rangers Kept Valentenko To Avoid Waiver Status?

Today in the NY Post, Larry Brooks noted that defenseman Pavel Valentenko would have to pass through waivers to be sent down to the Connecticut Whale.  This has sparked a debate about whether this means that Valentenko might be pushed onto the roster in order to prevent the team from possibly losing him from the organization. As Dave Shapiro pointed out over at Blue Seat Blogs this is not a new scenario for the Rangers as Michael Sauer was kept on the roster to start last season over Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko because of his waiver status.  Unless the competitors for the final defensive spots are even, then I am not in favor of making roster decisions based on the waiver status of a player.

Personally I am not as high on Valentenko as many are because of his lack of foot speed.  Valentenko certainly has an intriguing shot, crease clearing mentality and loves to hit.  The shot was what most fans fell in love with last year, but the question is whether he can keep up with the speed of the NHL game and with that in the balance should he be kept because of waiver status? 

The biggest loser if Valentenko is kept is likely to be Michael Del Zotto because Tim Erixon has been so impressive this month and right now is probably the leading candidate for the final pair spot.  Steve Eminger is going to make the team whether it be as the 6th or 7th defender on the club.  That likely leaves the competition to Del Zotto, Valentenko, Kundratek, Parlett, Bell and whomever else for the other spot.  With Del Zotto being free of waivers the team could  send him back to the AHL to continue working on his game.