You all know by now the New York Rangers have not started negotiations with UFA to be defenseman Marc Staal. Instead, they've delayed talks while the brass took care of more pressing matters -- notably the three RFAs who were arbitration eligible.
Even now, Staal isn't at the top of the priority list due to RFA John Moore remaining unsigned. There have been absolutely no leaks about those negotiations, but we've learned not to treat a lack of news as anything negative. Glen Sather does try to keep his work close to the vest.
In Brook's story he talks about how the ludicrous contract Brooks Orpik got might act as ammunition for Staal's camp. He also goes on to talk about what the Rangers might have to think about if Staal's number is too high:
So, the Rangers not only might as well find out now what it will take to keep Staal and keep together the foundation on D - built around the Big Three of Staal, Girardi and Ryan McDonagh - they must know now. Because the sooner to explore the trade market, the better.
If the Blueshirts are going to trade Staal, they had better to do it sooner rather than later and avoid the angst that accompanied the Girardi and Callahan scenarios through last winter that benefited no one.
This is an interesting part of these negotiations we're going to have to live with until this dance ends one way or another. The Rangers did reach out to Staal's agent to let him know that they're taking care of higher priority players and that their lack of communication should not be taken as a slight. This makes sense, Staal gets it and his agent does too.
But once Moore is brought into the fold the Rangers will need to sit down with Staal -- who has expressed a real desire to get these negotiations out of the way before the season begins -- and see what he wants. I know a lot of you hate the idea of the 28-year-old signing a long term extension with the team, but I don't mind the thought of it depending on the term, of course. Staal is a quality defenseman who has completely recovered from his eye injury and a player who brings a lot of needed assets to the table. Tangible one's, too.
That might end up being the problem, though, since Staal is a far better defenseman than Orpik (who is also six years older) and he just watched him sign a five-year, $5.5-million deal. It's very fair for him to be thinking, "if he can get that on the open market I can easily get north of $6-million." The market isn't going to deflate for top-four defenseman in a year, and Staal will have to know there's a payday there if there isn't a pot of gold in New York.
But what should the top of the mark be for Staal? He's easily worth the contract the Rangers just handed to Dan Girardi, but that doesn't mean you just hand out those figures at will. Would he accept anything less? How badly does he want to stay in New York?
Brooks does make a good point in the story about the timing, too. Staal only loses value the longer the season drags on. Yes, you can offload him at the deadline if need be, but that's a different type of game. If the Rangers are contending, then why screw with a good thing? If they're not, well, that's different, too.
Either way, I agree the Rangers need to figure out where Staal stands sooner rather than later. The team needs to make a decision on him before the summer starts.
And he's going to have to make a decision on them, too.