For the second consecutive year, the New York Rangers watched as divisional-rival Pittsburgh Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup. There are a few important things to note about these two runs. One of which is that Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t stellar, and that’s a good thing for the Rangers.
The New York Rangers have been rumored to be interested in defensemen such as Kevin Shattenkirk. Coming from the St. Louis Blues and then to the Washington Capitals, he has a fairly good track record.
He’s played with respectable teams that have made the playoffs the past few seasons. He’s the “elite” defender that has alluded the Rangers on the right side for years.
What the Rangers think they need:
In spite of his allure, the Penguins have proved something quite shocking that the Rangers should recognize. In fact, it’s something they should take solace in. They don’t need an elite defensive lineup to win the Stanley Cup.
That may sound absurd at first. However, when looking at the situation, it becomes clear that the reasons the Penguins have won don’t have anything to do with the defense.
It can be agreed upon that the Penguins are built on speed, as are the Rangers. The potent offense is there for both teams. The incredible goaltending is there for both teams in Henrik Lundqvist and Matt Murray, respectively.
What the Rangers actually need:
Naturally, one would assume the missing ingredient is the defense, right? The Rangers have a…not so great defense, while the Penguins have…an elite one? No. Look closely, and you’ll find the best word to suit Pittsburgh’s defense is average.
Average! After all, this time assuming the Rangers needed to find a savior in a player like Shattenkirk, it becomes evident that all they need is someone average. The best player the Penguins have on defense is Trevor Daley when Kris Letang is out–which is very often–and by no means is he on the level of Shattenkirk or anyone else the Rangers think they need.
Where the real problem lies for the Rangers is in their below-average defense. Players like Marc Staal who have already had their best years go by need to be bought out.
Recently, that’s exactly what happened with Dan Girardi. He gave 11 seasons to the team, and he gave his best until the end. Even when he was on his last leg from all those blocked shots he’s taken, he gave it all he had. But the Rangers did the right thing in buying out his contract.
More of that will need to be done moving forward, and with Kevin Klein’s possible retirement, it seems likely that the Rangers will have some cap room space to play around with. After all, all they really need to be searching for is average. The sooner they realize that the better so it doesn’t cost them too much in the long run.