As we continue digging through the Rangers 2016 season, we move on to Marc Staal's report card for the 2016 season.
2 goals, 13 assists 15 points in 77 games (2 assists in 5 playoff games)
Fancy stats (all 5v5, all from War-On-Ice):
Corsi: 45.66%, Shot Differential: -214, Zone Start Offensive Rel: -12.06%, Goals For %: 48.39, Scoring Chance For %: 46.17, Scoring Chance Differential: -88.
A lot of the analysis we gave for Dan Girardi fits in this space, too. Mainly heaping blame on Alain Vigneault for not noticing his "top defenseman" weren't working and making no adjustments to fix it.
Where Staal and Girardi truly differ is in raw skill. Staal isn't just faster than Girardi he's also a better skater, helping him make adjustments on the fly that Girardi wasn't able to make. It served him well in some instances -- akin to Girardi, Staal did have a few stretched of really positive play -- but Staal was much more up and down over the year.
The problem is Staal's low were massive, all-encompassing lows that combined poorly timed turnovers, terrible possession metrics and bad defense into whole-game sequences that made you wince. Where Girardi's possession black hole was relativity consistent, Staal would appear to be solid enough to not draw your attention until he imploded.
For whatever reason, Vigneault did seem to hold Staal far more accountable than Girardi, though. Maybe it was because Keith Yandle was fighting with him for ice time directly, but Staal found himself being demoted far more often than his counterpart.
That still didn't stop the errors from causing the Rangers problems. Stall was a turnover machine in front of the net, and was often bullied off the puck in the corners. Pre-injury Staal was very good at making low reads, getting into the right position and getting the puck out of the zone swiftly. Not an offensive defenseman by any means, Staal was still more than capable of effectively getting the puck out of his own zone.
That hasn't been the case post-injury, really, and the Rangers are paying for. Much like Girardi, Staal's contract was the result of a player being paid for past services. And while there is something of a defense in the realm of not expecting Staal to drop off this quickly, his extension should have negated a move for another defenseman on his side of the ice. The lack of foresight is part of the reason the Rangers are in this mess in the first place.
Between the two, you'd probably rather have Staal than Girardi. While both are sporting enormous contracts for way too many years, Staal is the better defenseman who can be hid more easily. With the right partner you could negate Staal's deficiencies and allow him to carry a lighter load.
Of course, because of the above, Staal is the easier defenseman to move on the trade market. Personally, the Rangers would be best served to see both of them gone, but that might be a pipe dream.
Final Grade: D -- Staal wasn't good enough, was used like a defenseman expected to be good enough and hasn't shown much hope that he can rebound to where the Rangers need him to be with his paycheck. Still under 30, there's hope Staal can rebound to a level where his contract isn't a total disaster, but it's unlikely. Hopefully the Rangers can utilize his name reputation to move him to another team.