Logically, the next transaction the Rangers will announce is the re-signing of defenseman John Moore. But after if and potentially when the Rangers lock up the puck moving defenseman, there's still many names on the docket in need of deals. At the top of that list in terms of most important is perhaps Marc Staal, but good news may be afoot.
On Wednesday, Pat Leonard of the Daily News reported that the Rangers and Staal have engaged in discussions on negotiating a long-term extension, talks that were labeled 'productive.' From Leonard's piece:
Marc Staal remains unsigned to a long-term contract extension with NHL training camp just eight days away, but the Rangers defenseman's agent told the Daily News on Wednesday morning that he has had substantive discussions with the club toward that end.
"We have had some productive discussions with the Rangers with the goal being to secure a long-term extension for Marc," Paul Krepelka of The Orr Hockey Group wrote in an email to the Daily News.
It was only six months or so ago when the Rangers were faced with difficult decisions approaching the trade deadline on both Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi. The former was traded, while the latter may have leveraged the situation into a bit more money than he's worth. Staal is a player the Rangers have long indicated a desire to keep, so it should come as no surprise Glen Sather and co. are at the negotiating table early in hopes of striking a deal.
And as previously stated, there will be many contracts to hammer home this season, so in that sense, it would probably behoove the Rangers to get cracking sooner rather than later. Along with Staal, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and Mats Zuccarello have expiring contracts, and are candidates to receive extensions. Martin St. Louis' deal is also up, but at age 39, it's unclear if the scoring forward will want to play into his 40's.
One other thought on Staal. With the Rangers captain-less, Staal's name has certainly been floated as a potential player to don the 'C.' Meanwhile, one of the biggest negatives to bestowing upon Staal that honor was his unclear future. While Ryan McDonagh should still be considered the odds-on favorite, getting Staal re-signed before the regular season, or maybe even training camp begins, would very much strengthen his case for accepting a bigger leadership role.