Justin Falk has not played a game for the New York Rangers since 29 December 2013. Since the beginning of the season Falk has appeared in 20 games for the Rangers; and has been a healthy scratch for 35 games. To begin the season, Falk was played in favor of Michael Del Zotto quite frequently. When the Rangers realized they needed to play Del Zotto in order to increase his trade value, Falk sat. When Del Zotto was traded a seasoned, veteran defenseman was the return. Falk is still the odd man out.
Going back to Falk’s acquisition, we have to wonder why General Manager Glen Sather chose to pursue him. The Rangers sent Ben Ferriero and a 2014 Entry Draft sixth round pick, acquired from Columbus, to the Minnesota Wild for a player who doesn’t do anything for the team. Just as a reminder Mike Komisarek was available during free agency and he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes for 275 thousand dollars less than Falk and he has been more valuable. Falk is a big body defenseman. At 6’5″ and 215lbs, Falk isn’t a small guy. The problem is that he doesn’t use his size to his advantage. Falk has appeared at the NHL level in five, non consecutive, seasons. the most games in a season he has ever played is 47. The highest points Falk ever tallied in an NHL season was nine, and he has never finished a season with a plus rating. In his 128 NHL games, Falk has totaled 128 penalty minutes. We’ve seen Falk attempt to fight this season; he looks like a giraffe getting stuffed into a bag made of his jersey. He doesn’t skate well, he doesn’t handle the puck well, he can’t be counted on to be a stay home defenseman while his on ice partner joins the rush and he doesn’t have the skills necessary to join the rush himself. So what do the Rangers do with him?
There are a few options. Sending him to the Hartford Wolf Pack is an option. Falk is still a restricted free agent at the end of this year so he may get something good from being sent to the AHL. If he gets claimed off waivers, it makes no difference to the team at this point. What if someone gets hurt? We know that Conor Allen is fully capable of stepping in and handling his business in the NHL. We also know that when he’s not hurt, Dylan McIlrath is another player who can handle the NHL level. On the trade market Falk brings nothing on his own and the Rangers don’t have any draft picks to use as bait so if he was to be traded it would be a package deal with another player. Any way you slice it or dice it, there’s just no room in the inn for Justin Falk at this point.