Most of us Ranger's fans who were watching last nights game were up for a real scare when we saw Marc Staal leave the ice after appearing to be hit in the head by Ried Boucher of the NJ Devils. It was a moment that conjured up the horrors of the last three, injury ridden seasons that Marc Staal has had to endure. Let's not forget that it was in 2010-2011 that Staal got his first concussion which kept him out until mid 2011-2012. Then, last year, he took that deflected puck to the eye and missed another year. Staal's injury history has all of us worried and for good reason.
That, coupled with the weak play of John Moore and the even more atrocious play of Michael Del Zotto this season, has left the Rangers' defense at a crossroads. They have three options and three very different roads to go down which could lead to either the success or failure of the Rangers' season.
Option 1: Make a Trade
The Rangers could easily be forced to play their hand in a trade following the likely injury that Marc Staal has sustained. The most likely trade candidate is Michael Del Zotto who has struggled mightily this season at both ends of the ice. The trade of Del Zotto could work one of two ways: It could bolster the Rangers blue line with a consistent 3rd pairing defenseman who takes few risks and makes safe plays, or it could bring in a wildly inconsistent prospect/scapegoat from another team like Del Zotto. Not to mention the fact that Del Zotto could be re-inspired and put up 40-50 points elsewhere, a trade right now seems like a bad idea.
Option 2: Play Del Zotto and hope for the best
Anther option is to just play Del Zotto, Moore, and Falk and hope for the best. One of them may seize the opportunity and shine, but that is highly unlikely.
Option 3: Let the kids play
The Rangers have a few defensive prospects down in Hartford that could really instill some life into the current defensive group. Dylan McIlrath has been impressing down in Hartford with his physical play and defensive work while guys like Conor Allen have shown a strong two way game. Allen almost made the team out of training camp and impressed Vigneault with his passing and stick-work as well as his skating. Also, the Rangers have inconsistent but talented Danny Syvret who was acquired in a trade with Philly this offseason, and occasional call up Stu Bickel who could bring some bite to the bottom pair.
Overall, the Rangers are beginning to thin on the defensive end and it is time to do something. There is some concern with John Moore, but, as such a young player it is expected of him to go through a few growing pains. Remember, this is the guy who has a nearly identical skill set to Ryan McDonagh and could really blossom into a top flight defender in this league. Del Zotto on the other hand is a lost case in NY and it is time for him to go.
Lets all hope for a speedy return for Staal and cheer our team on tonight against the Caps. Lets go Rangers!!