The New York Rangers have a bigger defensive problem today then they did two days ago. Steve Eminger, who separated his shoulder in the Rangers' 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday night, was replaced Sunday night by Stu Bickel.
Before anyone gets ahead of themselves, the Rangers did not have the cap space to bring up Tim Erixon, which is why Bickle was selected.
And while this might seem like a perfect scenario to trade for a veteran defenseman, there are multiple reasons why it is not. It's important to note here that the holiday roster freeze started this morning, and will be in effect until December 27th. That means no players can be traded for moved -- although you can call players up from the AHL -- during that time span.
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There's another reason why it doesn't make much sense for the Rangers to trade for a veteran defenseman. When healthy, the Rangers have four top-defenseman in Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer. Then there's Michael Del Zotto who is getting into top-defenseman form of late. And then there's a mixture of Steve Eminger, Jeff Woywitka and Anton Stralman who make up the final group of serviceable defenseman, but not guys you want to lean on for heavy minutes.
Along with the bottom three there is Tim Erixon who is largely expected to see some more NHL time this year, and should be a real competition for a spot on next year's roster. Erixon is the most NHL ready of the Rangers farm system in Connecticut, and would have been called up for Eminger's injury had it not have been for cap restrictions.
What if Glen Sather did make a move for a veteran defenseman? Say he trades a few of the organization's chips for a veteran defenseman who can fit in right away. While neither Staal nor Sauer are expected back immediately, the consensus is that both should see a pretty good amount of games this season. Especially Sauer, who should come back before Staal.
If that's the case, then Sather has paid another team for a veteran defenseman who is going to play third-pairing minutes when everyone is healthy. And that doesn't even take into account next year, when players like Erixon, Dylan McIlrath and Pavel Valentenko are gunning for a roster spot. What then?
Unless Sather knows he can get an all-star defenseman who will be on the blue line for years to come -- say a Shea Weber -- then there's no reason to make a move. And as far as I'm concerned, Weber isn't going to be on the trading block anytime soon.
The Rangers might not have the defensive pieces in place right now, but they do have the pieces within the organization. I just don't see the benefit of making a panic move right now, and overpaying for a veteran, when Staal and Sauer are expected back.