Marc Staal is one year away from unrestricted free agency and the Rangers may have already missed their best opportunity to solve the dilemma. According to Larry Brooks, Staal may be seeking a multi year deal worth $5.5M per, which is entirely too much for the Rangers-bred defenseman.
If Staal really is seeking the same six year, $30M contract that the Rangers gave Dan Girardi, he should have been moved at the 2014 draft. Staal represents the league’s imperfect understanding of what constitutes a good stay at home defenseman. It’s entirely likely that Staal will receive more than Anton Stralman‘s five year, $22M contract, despite the fact the latter has consistently outperformed the former.
Prior to the draft, I advocated for the Rangers trading Staal in an attempt to get ahead of the curve and recoup a first round pick. We may be tired of the “Staal’s are bothers!” narrative, but what the Penguins did with Marc’s brother Jordan was very smart. They started contract negotiations early, realized they couldn’t afford him, and got working on a trade to a location he wanted to sign long-term. The Rangers should have done the same with Marc. Especially since in all likelihood, no team will be willing to part with a first round pick in next year’s draft; after all, it is the McJesus draft. Furthermore, by trading him at the draft, the Rangers would have had a stocked free agency pool to replace Staal and gain some ‘cost certainty’ ahead of the restricted free agency signings.
Staal’s status and worth will be discussed at length in the coming months. Consider this post the first salvo.