Rangers Hockey: Who Do You Want? Part 2
Added by Gregg Snyder on February 15, 2011.
By: Dante Vassallo
I love the Rangers defensive core of Staal, Girardi, McDonagh, Sauer, Gilroy, and Del Zotto. Steve Eminger has been a great contributor as well. They are a young, ever-improving steady group of blueliners. They are however, missing two components that are essential for success in the playoffs.
If they can add these two player types without taking too much away from the group already in place, the Rangers could make a decent playoff push.
We all knew going into this season that the Rangers needed a powerplay quarterback. Michael Del Zotto had a terrific rookie season, and I guess that gave Sather enough confidence not to worry about trying to land one. Del Zotto has definitely been suffering from the dreaded but very real sophomore slump. He has been up and down with the Rangers and Wolf Pack, and has never been able to establish himself as a reliable defenseman.
Matt Gilroy has not been able to handle the powerplay role either, though he has been a steadier defensive presence. The bottom line is, the Rangers need to get somebody in here that can do the job.
Brian McCabe, Joe Corvo, and Joni Pitkanen are all worth considering. All have had moderate success as powerplay QBs in the past, but Zach Bogosian of the Atlanta Thrashers is the player I would go after. He has been the odd man out in Atlanta this year due to the wild success of Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom, and his numbers are down because of it. But at only twenty years old, I think he would fit in nicely with the young group already here. He will be a Restricted Free Agent this summer, so if the Rangers can bring him in now, they will have the first shot at signing him to a decent contract in the offseason.
The hang-up here, is that Atlanta is currently only two points out of a playoff spot, and Enstrom is out with an injury so Bogosian is seeing more significant minutes of late. Should they fall out of the playoff picture over the next week and a half, something could get done.
Robyn Regehr and Eric Brewer are solid stay at home types with veteran experience. Both are available, and my guess is the Rangers will end up with Brewer.
The player I would go after to fill this role though, is Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks. In 2008, Bieksa had 43 points and nearly 100 penalty minutes. His career has been a series of bizarre injuries since then, but he is healthy now. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent next season, and he is unlikely to return to Vancouver.
The fact that Vancouver plays in the Western Conference makes a trade easier to swallow. I think he can come in and fill both roles for the Rangers. If I couldn’t land Bogosian, which seems unlikely at the moment, I would make a serious run at Bieksa.