As we are getting closer to the draft and July 1st, I realized it was finally time to discuss the individual players on the 2011-2012 team. I’ll be honest, I’m not one for full player reviews as I don’t see them having a purpose other than to take up space on a blog or give readers a way to kill time. Who wants to talk about last season when figuring out next season? I’m sure Brandon Dubinsky doesn’t.
So instead, I’m going to give a brief overview about each player and then play everyone’s favorite game – keep them or dump them! Obviously these are my opinions and I promise to explain why in places there might be questions on which I chose.
First up the backend, a.k.a. goalies and defense. Here we go!
Henrik Lundqvist (G, 39-18-5-8, 1.97 GAA, .930 SV%) – King Henrik had one of, if not, his best seasons since joining the league. Really what can we say about the man that hasn’t been said? He is the Rangers MVP each season without question. And if he isn’t accepting the Vezina in a couple of weeks, I will be majorly pissed. Either way, this goes without say… KEEP
Martin Biron (G, 12-6-2-2, 2.46 GAA, .904 SV%) – Biron is the exact reason why teams have a veteran backup. Yes he was shaky towards the end of the season and no, I really don’t know why. But at the start of the year, he gave Lundqvist the rest he needed. Plus he has the cutest son in the world (and yes I realize that has nothing to do with his play but Jacob is awesome.) I know some people want us to go younger but I think Marty is vital to the Rangers getting back to where they were this season. Assuming his UFA demands aren’t ridiculous, I say… KEEP
Dan Girardi (D, 82 games played, 5-24-29, +13) – This year was the first year the UNDRAFTED defenseman went to the all-star game. What words can I use to describe Dan Girardi? Awesome, Amazing, Incredible, Workhorse, Stalwart, Shot Blocker Extraordinaire…should I continue? Honestly, I think the man is an absolute beast out there. There really is no other way to say it. And I didn’t jump on the bandwagon this year. I’ve been defending him since before the Gaborik incident. Anyway, I’ll make this simple… KEEP
Marc Staal (D, 46 games played, 2-3-5, -7) – There are only a few guys who we can really say fans should throw out the numbers when judging their season. Staal is one of them. I absolutely hate concussions and I don’t care what anyone says – just because you are healthy enough to come back, doesn’t mean you are really back. I don’t think we saw the Marc Staal we know and love until the playoffs. It will be interesting to see what happens next year with our D pairs but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a part of it. I don’t think any team is dumb enough to trade a Staal if they have one (so no I don’t believe the Pittsburgh rumors). KEEP
Ryan McDonagh (D, 82 games played, 7-25-32, +25) – Can I say thank you Montreal? Yeah, Thank You Montreal. Look, we all knew McDonagh was something special when he had only one bad game his rookie year – his first NHL game. But anyone who expected what we got this year that quickly is lying to you. They say stars are born out of opportunities taken. Opportunity given, opportunity taken. This guy is going nowhere. KEEP
Michael Del Zotto (D, 77 games played, 10-31-41, +20) – Here’s where it gets interesting. Fans are completely divided on Del Zotto. I knew he would bounce back this year but he honestly exceeded my expectations. Was he perfect? Of course not. The kid is still only 21 and not everyone is a stud from the moment they hit this level like McDonagh. I think he has room to grow and I think he will grow. Torts has taken him on like a new project. No matter what he says to him or the media, I really believe he wants him to succeed and wants to watch it happen. I think it would be a big mistake to see him go but wouldn’t be surprised if it happened. That said, this is my opinion so… KEEP
Anton Stralman (D, 53 games played, 2-16-18, +9) – I have nothing against Stralman. We were in a bind, he was available and honestly he filled in admirably. But his defense leaves a lot to be desired. (Honestly trying to figure out how he ended the season a +9.) He has a great shot from the point but we don’t see it enough. And honestly, he was kept in the line-up to play on the power play and didn’t do much there to earn that time. I won’t be mad if they choose to re-sign him but pretty sure there are better options out there. DUMP
Stu Bickel (D, 51 games played, 0-9-9, +2) – I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret. I have a thing for hockey players from Minnesota. I don’t know why or what it is but I tend to root for them. Bickel falls in this category. He is far from perfect defensively but I also think something happened to him as the season went on. I don’t know if he got tired, was hurt, started thinking too much on the ice but something changed. Because his first two months, no one knew he was on the ice and he was getting ice time. He was sound defensively. Not doing anything spectacular but not making mistakes either. Then something changed and not only did the fans turn on him but Torts lost trust. Personally, I think he can be taught. He will never be a top 4 defenseman but as a 6/7, I think he is a good option. In my opinion… KEEP …but only if Torts will give him a chance to play. Otherwise let him go elsewhere because he deserves that chance.
Steve Eminger (D, 42 games played, 2-3-5, even) – Last season, Eminger was a great 5/6/7 defenseman. He filled in when we needed him to, sat quietly when we didn’t. He was another that when he was on the ice, he wasn’t standing out in any way, good or bad. This year, I don’t know what happened but all I saw was mistakes. I know he wasn’t as horrible as it seemed but I just stopped trusting him on the ice. And as the year went on, Torts trusted him even less. A lot of fans thought he was better than Bickel. Torts didn’t agree otherwise he would’ve taken Bickel and his 4 minutes out of the line-up. I really do wish him well but… DUMP
Jeff Woywitka (D, 27 games played, 1-5-6, +2) – Woywitka was the first defenseman we found when we realized Staal wouldn’t be starting the season. We were desperate, he was available and so he played 27 games. Again, he wasn’t horrible but he wasn’t great either. There really isn’t anything else to say since there’s no way he will be back. DUMP
Michael Sauer (D, 19 games played, 1-2-3, +9) – Ugh, I don’t even know where to begin here. Concussions suck. Right now it doesn’t sound like Sauer will be ready for camp which is an absolute shame cause he was really poised to breakout this year and injuries stopped that (first a shoulder injury in the preseason and then the concussion). I would love to see him on the ice but at this point I just want him to get better so he can live his life.
Tim Erixon (D, 18 games played, 0-2-2, -2) – Erixon only played 18 NHL games so it’s hard to judge him but from what I’m hearing, he is sounding more like Bobby Sanguinetti than Ryan McDonagh. I’m not willing to give up on him but I wouldn’t be surprised if he either (a) starts next season again in the AHL or (b) is part of a package deal. UNDECIDED
Next time, we go over the forwards. I promise to try to dump a few more but honestly I love this team just the way it is.