Marc Staal 2017-18 Expectations
Marc Staal, the name that is a borderline swear for some New York Rangers fans, left plenty to be desired last season. Personally, I am one of the rare Marc Staal supporters; what he and Dan Girardi provided to the team is immeasurable. However, even I found myself frustrated with the play of number 18.
There are two indisputable facts with Marc Staal. First, his style of play has taken its toll on the defenseman and he is still a very solid third pairing defenseman. As mentioned in a previous article Marc Staal can really help this team should he find himself with a new partner. Second, Staal’s leadership can help mentor the young defensemen biting at his heels.
Nobody cares about intangibles once the puck is dropped, they care about production and results. And whatever the expectations are for Marc Staal, it will all depend on who his partner is, so choose your own adventure.
Staaling for one more season
Assuming the team holds on to Nick Holden, then Marc Staal will most likely struggle this season. Simply put, the top four defensemen really fit right into the scheme of coach Alain Vigneault, while the current bottom two do not. Holden has a little more of a scoring touch, however, he leaves much to be desired on the back end and doesn’t have the speed to join the rush and recover if he gets caught. Staal is an unbearably slow skater. When he is smart defensively, he takes the right angles and makes up for this shortcoming.
If Staal-Holden is the pairing for this season the exception should be for Staal to be a negative player, have a minus rating. As of now, Holden is going to be a free agent at season’s end. The team could wait one more year for the youngsters to grow and let Holden walk next summer, or they can try and make Holden available for a draft pick and see what they get.
Gone in the Nick of time
Should the team move Holden, then we can expect a heated battle between Neal Pionk, Anthony DeAngelo, and others for the last spot on the blue line. This would enable Staal to be a total ‘stay at home’ defensive defenseman. It would also allow three pairings of an aggressive defenseman and a defensive defenseman. Should Holden be moved, Staal could very well receive praise from the fans as a comeback player.
Fight to play
Staal has never scored double-digit goals in his career, and that won’t change regardless of his partner. Staal has had three seasons of 20 or more points, but he is unlikely to be improving on that this season. Far from a statistical guy; his value is unmeasurable. He plays with heart and grit; I don’t believe he is useless, he just stands out as a player that doesn’t fit the system he plays. Hermie the elf wanted to be a dentist and that worked out for everyone.
Alain Vigneault has said Staal will have to fight for his spot. While that is hard to believe, Staal does have to fight to stay with the Rangers. The team bought out Dan Girardi this summer, and unless Staal plays better, he could be next.