Marc Staal is the last man standing from the old Rangers blue line

Getty Images

Marc Staal has been a leader for this team, and has made some positive contributions during a very difficult season. His offensive numbers are not glamorous, but his overall play has been better than it has been in years.

Staal has only sat for 18 minutes in the sin-bin, his lowest since 2011-12. Additionally, he has thrown his body in front of 93 shots this season in 63 games. At 31 years of age, Staal’s playing time has dwindled down to the lowest of his career at 18:22, but in that time he is making the most of it. 

This very green group of Rangers defensemen will need someone to help guide them, and Staal is the last vet standing on the blue line.

Veteran Guidance

It’s year three of his six year extension, and his big contract is the prime reason he’s still here. While his game isn’t what it was during those great years from 2010-2015, his leadership and experience will be crucial to a youthful blueline.

At 43.1% CorsiFor, he is among the lowest of the Rangers defenseman, but in terms of defensive zone starts, he leads by the staggering amount. 61.7 %, while the next highest is his partner, Neal Pionk. Starting in the defensive zone that often and usually against other team’s top lines is bound to hurt your possession numbers at some point.

Another interesting statistic that sticks out is Staal’s PDO score. This season is a career-high and defensive tie for Rangers high with 103, which combines his shooting percentage and the goalies save percentage. He is tied with D-man Rob O’Gara, who has only appeared in 18 games compared to Staal’s 68. This has resulted in Staal being a +12 on a team that gives up goals a plenty. For the record, the next closest Ranger is Chris Kreider at +3, but he’s played 14 games less.

It’s All About the Intangibles Now

Offensive numbers have been staggered in Staal’s career, but his leadership is now what is most important. He is a veteran on this very young and inexperienced team. A lot of things will be moving around and for a young player, it will certainly swell on them mentally. Having a vet to mentor and guide you through one of the hardest things a franchise has to go through is important.

The Alternate Captain should be an important piece in the years to come, for his leadership of the younger defensive core. The Rangers will likely continue to dismantle this team from the coach to the 4th line, and #18 should still remain. Rangers will likely not be able to trade him or afford another buyout.

Neal Pionk has benefited from the guidance of Staal. Building chemistry between these two could make a solid second pairing, behind Skjei and Shattenkirk.

Marc Staal has been one of the better defenseman for the Rangers this season. Despite missing considerable time with injury for a portion of the season, he has put together a positive 2017-18 campaign.


Mentioned in this article:

More About: