Rangers Address Need by Adding Blueline Depth
Rangers focusing on adding blueline depth this offseason.
Last season injuries on the blueline forced the Rangers to play and give ice time to Matt Gilroy and Roman Hamrlik and we all know how well that turned out. So far this offseason the Rangers have traded to acquire Justin Falk and Danny Syvret and signed UFA Aaron Johnson and in doing so have addressed a lack of depth on the blueline. When Mike Sauer was healthy the Rangers arguably had one of the deepest bluelines in the league but with Sauer out of the lineup and Staal suffering his gruesome injury last season a weakness was exposed and has now been addressed by the Rangers.
Hopefully bringing in Falk, Syvret, and Johnson means the end of the Rangers playing Stu Bickel (who becomes a UFA at the end of next season) and provides some insurance in the event of injuries on the blueline. It also means that the Rangers are almost certainly going to be parting ways with UFAs Matt Gilroy and Steve Eminger.
As Joe wrote last month Eminger is a valuable guy to keep around because he is a great plug-in guy for the third pair in the event of an injury and he is a right-handed shot which is something there is a dearth of on the Rangers blueline. Last season Eminger made $750k on a one-year deal which might be more than the Rangers could afford after they re-sign their five RFAs (including Falk). However, whether or not the Rangers can afford to bring him back isn't the only question we should ask. We must also ask if we still need him given the recent acquisitions the Rangers have made.
I've been reading around the site that some of you think that Eminger's days as a Ranger are done and I am inclined to agree with you given the moves the Rangers have made and the cap space the Rangers are going to have to work with after signing the RFAs. If this is the end of Steve Eminger I'd like to go on record by saying he was an outstanding role player and 7th defenseman for the Rangers. He wasn't exciting or inspiring on the ice but he got the job done and I wish him nothing but the best in finding a roster spot on another team for next season.
The other thing that almost certainly spells the end of Eminger's days as a Ranger is that the Rangers have made it known that they want to leave room in the lineup for young players and there are a few Rangers defensive prospects, including Dylan McIlrath, who are looking to impress and compete for potential roster spots (more realistically mid-season call-ups) for next season.
So what do you guys think? Should the Rangers still entertain the idea of bringing Eminger back? Does the team still need him after adding Johnson, Syvret, and Falk? Are you worried about the glut of left-handers on the blueline? Do you think all of these blueline moves are more than just adding depth (some of you seem to think it foreshadows a trade)? Let me know in the comments.
Let's go Rangers