Step 5: Let the kids battle it out on defense
Over the last few weeks of the regular season and at the beginning of the playoffs, the Rangers signed some young defenseman. First, they signed Alexei Bereglazov, a veteran of three KHL seasons, and then 21-year-old Nick Pionk out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Those two, coupled with prospects Ryan Graves and John Gilmour, both of which played for the Wolf Pack last season, along with NHL journeyman Adam Clendening, will compete for the Rangers number five defenseman role (Marc Staal would be the number six defenseman in this scenario because if he is still here, Vigneault will not make him a regular healthy scratch).
The Rangers are in serious need of more youth on the blueline. While they could go out and try to get another defenseman via trade or free agency, they might as well let the kids compete for a spot. The team has such a great forward corps. It’s one of the deepest in the league. If they could avoid moving one of them in a trade for a defender, then they should. Let the kids play because youth on the blueline is much needed.