Here's my biggest problem with a lot of the negativity that often surrounds this team: Most of the time it comes from an irrational place (as I often say, this doesn't happen as often here).
The New York Rangers have engaged in contract negotiations with Marc Staal, and people are displeased by this. The Dan Girardi contract (six years, $5.5-million per) is the bar many people are expecting to see reached when Staal finally does sign on the dotted line. Which brings me to the first of many questions: Why, exactly, is that an issue?
Many of the Rangers fans who are upset about Staal being re-signed long term believe ALL of the below (my comments in parentheses):
1) Girardi's contract is too long for too many years. (I agree)
2) John Moore is not ready for anything more than a third pairing role this year. (I agree)
3) Moore will probably never be anything other than a third pairing defenseman. (I do not agree)
4) Kevin Klein should be the team's 7th defenseman, he's not good enough for even a third pairing role. (I do not agree)
5) Brady Skjei isn't going to be NHL ready next year. (I mostly agree)
6) Dan Boyle is going to be terrible in his own zone. (I do not agree)
OK, so, if you believe all six of those things, let me ask you a question: How can you afford not to sign Marc Staal?
Like it or not, Ryan McDonagh and Girardi are the team's top pairing. Last year they threw a blanket over pretty much every single top line they came across, including the playoffs. I agree Girardi's deal is too long, but I'm rationalizing the deal by telling myself by the time that contract really sucks the salary cap will be high enough that it's not a big deal. Either way, there's no point in going back and crying over spilled milk. What's done is done.
Staal and Boyle (who isn't nearly as bad in his own zone as many are making him out to be) will make up the second pairing and Moore will partner with Klein on the third. The only difference between this year's defensive corps and the one that ran all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last year is Boyle for Anton Stralman. The Rangers traded a more offensive minded defenseman for a more defensive minded one. With Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes it's not the worst gamble in the world.
The bigger question isn't this year, though, it's next year. If the Rangers let Staal walk who replaces him? Moore is an RFA and unless he takes a major jump up this year won't be able to replace Staal. We all agree Skjei most likely won't be ready. Many of you have already (unfairly in my opinion) painted Dylan McIlrath as a total bust, but he's not replacing Staal next year, either.
So what would the solution be? Sign another high priced UFA on the free agent market? Someone who would most likely be older than Staal. Another player you hope fits the mold of the team but you won't know until he plays? Do you trade valuable assets for another team's on-the-block defenseman? Or do you force McIlrath or Skjei into the spotlight and hope they don't wilt? Do any of these options seem attractive to you? They shouldn't.
I agree the Girardi contract is an issue. But you can't punish yourself as punishment for a bad decision. Not signing Staal because Girardi has a bad contract is like not buying a fire extinguisher because you bought a faulty stove that spits out sparks and flames every time you try to cook. It makes no sense.
I like Staal a lot. I like what he brings to the table. I think he brings stability to a second pairing that's going to need it with Boyle roaming a lot more than Stralman did -- which is exactly why Boyle is here. Plus, Staal is 27 years old, his best days are still ahead of him, and he's already making $4-million a year right now. Can you really say he doesn't deserve a $1.5-million raise?
It's clear Staal is coming back. It's clear he wants to come back. These aren't bad things, even if some people tell you it is.
Mainly because those people thing everything is bad no matter what.