Marc Staal (above).

The New York Rangers made the most significant move of their off-season recently, announcing that a long rumored deal with the club’s top defenseman, Marc Staal, had been agreed to by both sides.  The 23 year-old defenseman who anchored the unit last year, averaging 23 minutes of ice per game, will receive $ 19.875 M over 5 years, under the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement.

The deal should be viewed as a win for the Rangers, not only because they were able to get cost certainty with regard to one of their best young players, but also because the deal takes Staal one year past his earliest eligibility to become an unrestricted free agent.  The Rangers effectively bought Staal out of one year of free agency–a major coup in today’s NHL landscape, at a very affordable cap charge of approximately $ 3.9 M per year.

Rangers’ fans griped at the NHL draft when President and General Manager Glen Sather termed the negotiating gap between Staal and the team as a “chasm.”  Especially after last year’s acrimonious holdout between Brandon Dubinsky and the Rangers which caused the young forward to miss 8 days of training camp. 

Here are Staal’s career stats:

 Recent Career
 Year Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM Hits BkS PPG PPA SHG SHA GW SOG Pct  
 2007-08 NYR 80 2 8 10 2 42 N/A N/A 0 0 0 1 0 78 .026  
 2008-09 NYR 82 3 12 15 -7 64 N/A N/A 0 1 0 1 1 96 .031  
 2009-10 NYR 82 8 19 27 11 44 178 97 0 0 0 0 2 78 .103  
 Career Totals (Full) 244 13 39 52 6 150 178 97 0 1 0 2 3 252 .052

Staal, who at times has been disappointing, for the most part has impressed.  It must be kept in mind that he is a young player who broke into the NHL at the age of 19.  Usually the Rangers display a talent for ruining their young guys, but Staal, who has strong NHL bloodlines (brothers Eric and Jordan have already won Stanley Cups), is probably the most sound first round pick the Rangers have made since Sather left Edmonton to preside over the Rangers.  Though the selection of Staal was bittersweet for the Rangers, who lost valuable draft positioning and a spot in the NHL’s lottery because of a lockout which cost them a crack at megastars Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.  Despite New York being one of the worst teams in the league prior to the lockout, since the lockout was so protracted, the draft was not conducted in reverse order of record, as it should have been, and instead, the draft order was selected randomly.  The Rangers were awarded the 15th pick overall, and then traded up 3 spots to select the 6’4 defenseman.

Staal has only missed two games in his NHL career, and has participated in every game over the last two seasons.  The signing puts the Rangers about $ 4 M over the NHL’s salary cap, but the Rangers are expected to clear $ 6.5 M in cap space when the players report to camp.  At that time, total bust Wade Redden is eligible to be waived–a move greatly anticapted by Rangers’ fans everywhere who are completely disgusted with the veteran Redden’s disinterested play, as well as the 6 yr/$ 39 M contract Redden signed in July of 2008.

The Rangers finished one point out of the playoffs last year, and watched the 8th seed Philadelphia Flyers advance to the Stanley Cup finals.

–Crack (,