Marc Staal has been a fixture in the New York Rangers starting lineup, when healthy of course, since he was 21 years old back in the 2007-08 NHL season. Until the emergence of Ryan McDonagh, in the 2010-11 season, Staal was considered to be the Rangers #1 defenseman and a rising star. However, concussions and a horrific eye injury a couple of years back has taken its toll on Staal’s very promising NHL career.
From the very beginning, Staal was one of the best shutdown defensemen in the league. The only thing lacking from his game was his offense, which was promised to come later but just never truly developed like it should. Basically look at McDonagh’s season last year and that is around what Staal was supposed to develop into if he was able to stay healthy.
Currently making just under $4 million, this 2014-15 season will be the last year of Staal’s current contract with the Rangers and as close to a guarantee that you can possibly get, without it officially being called a guarantee, that this will be Staal’s last season in a Rangers uniform.
Staal may be a leader in that locker room but there is no denying that his production and durability has just slipped over the years. But all of that aside, there is no bigger factor of why Staal will not be on the Rangers after this upcoming season than the salary cap. If there was no cap, there would be no doubt in my mind that the Rangers would find a way to resign Staal, however with Staal looking for a raise in pay and the Rangers up against the cap ceiling, there is no way I can see both parties swing a deal on a extension.
Another reason why I strongly believe Staal will not be with the Rangers after this upcoming season is because they already have 3 defensemen (McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Dan Boyle) making $4.5 million per year or over.
Adding a 4th contract of that magnitude on defense would ultimately hamper this team offensively moving forward, because if the Rangers were to give Staal $4.5 million or more per year, Rangers GM Glen Sather would then have little to no spending money left to add or even resign key forwards next offseason. So I say, if healthy, expect Staal to be dealt during the trade deadline to help fill a gap in the Rangers starting lineup, most likely at the center position.
I really wish there was a way to keep Staal but the writing is sadly on the wall. And no I did not mean to rhyme right there.