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Analyzing the Rangers blue line with Wade Redden out of the picture

Sep 25, 2010, 6:10 PM EDT

GYI0061781904-mcdonagh-bello-getty.jpgNow that the Rangers have cast defenseman Wade Redden aside on waivers with the intent of sending him to the AHL to rid themselves of his $6.5 million cap hit, the Rangers will have to figure out who, exactly, is going to take his spot along the blue line. Redden’s production last year wasn’t outstanding as he played 75 games and had two goals and 12 assists with a plus/minus rating of +8. Those are nice numbers for a fifth or sixth defenseman, just not for a guy you’re counting on to play more than 20 minutes a game and produce like a top-pair defenseman. Not to mention that’s what you’re paying him for.

With the players in Rangers camp to choose from, Blueshirt Banter picks out the heirs to Redden’s overpaid throne. With veterans like Garnet Exelby and Alexei Semenov in camp mixed in with rookies Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko, the Rangers have their choice of guys to run with. With what they’ve got in New York right now, the options the Rangers have to work with all depends on what coach John Tortorella wants to do. Here’s what the Rangers have on defense right now. Please note, these don’t reflect possible line combos – save the comments correcting me.

Marc Staal – Dan Girardi

Michal Rozsival – Steve Eminger

Matt Gilroy – Michael Del Zotto

Considering any of those four defenseman in the running for the seventh spot on the roster, Tortorella can run with either Exelby or Semenov if he wants to have another experienced veteran back there to help Del Zotto and Gilroy not have too much pressure to play well. As it is, it’s assumed that Eminger is the default seventh defenseman. Is either Exelby or Semenov better than Eminger? Tough to say.

The man most Rangers fans seem eager to get to Manhattan is youngster Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh was a man amongst boys last year at the University of Wisconsin. McDonagh was obtained last year in the Scott Gomez deal with Montreal and the fact that he could be starting for the Rangers just a year later is startling, especially if you’re a Montreal fan. Valentenko is a guy who’s opened some eyes in camp, but McDonagh is the guy that if you’re going to run with a really young defensive unit is going to get the call.

If Rangers coaches and fans don’t mind dealing with the inevitable rough patches, going with McDonagh to start the year might be the best move. While Matt Gilroy struggled towards the end of last season, he’s still a younger player learning the ropes much like McDonagh would be. If John Tortorella has the patience to deal with four defensemen under the age of 27 (Gilroy is the “old man” of the bunch at 26) it could go a long way towards helping the Rangers for the future.

If not, then going for mediocrity now with either Exelby or Semenov is the way to go. Not exactly appetizing choices because there’s going to tough spots regardless of which way they go. At least the Rangers have that financial flexibility back again. There’s always a silver lining in New York.

(Photo: Al Bello – Getty Images)

  1. NYRFTW - Sep 25, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    The Rangers have already made up their minds on who’s making it if they demoted Redden. It will most likely be McDonagh!McDonagh is a beast and he already looks like he will be better than that trash they call Gilroy. I don’t think the Rangers are worried about having multiple young D in their lineup considering the NHL is now a young mans game. The team “kid” is gone from the league and it has been replaced by “player” 30 is the new 40 in the league and we have way to many players that are close to 30 or older in our lineup. Don’t get me wrong there are a few exceptions age wise, but the new standard is to sign them young and let them walk later, so they can be replaced by younger players. It’s the new cycle due to the cap. The days of letting players rot in the AHL their first few yeaars are long gone.
    BTW please don’t ever reference Blueshirt Banter in any of your articles. That site is a joke. It’s filled with a bunch of low hockey I.Q. from the writers (i’m being nice calling them writers) to the readers who post comments. I was suspended from that site for basically nothing. It’s just as bad as Hockeybuzz.

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