The New York Rangers have one of the best defensive cores in the National Hockey League. With great defensive depth and players that can shut down any line in the league, the Rangers are set in the back end for the future. With depth players like Kevin Klein and Matt Hunwick who wear their heart on their sleeve, Glen Sather and the front office have done a fantastic job locking up the defensive core long term.
Although the team defensive lacks at certain points, their overall performance this season has been nothing but stellar, especially during their time of desperation when both Dan Boyle and Ryan McDonagh were both hurt. During this time, Kevin Klein (who is locked in until 2018) and Matt Hunwick stepped up big time. They stepped into the top four and played big minutes to help the Rangers maintain a respectful back end.
It seems now that they have a new core four of defensive man that includes Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, and Kevin Klein. McDonagh, the captain of the Rangers, is inked until 2019, and his partner Dan Girardi is locked in until 2020.
They have been the top defensive pair for New York for the past two years and only improve each year. While they might have not been lights out so far this season and have been called out by the head coach for to many turnovers, they are still one of the best pairings in the league. Combined they are plus eighteen and have five goals.
Marc Staal, who recently signed a contract extension is now a Ranger until 2021. His play has suffered since sustaining the concussions and eye injury, but more recently he has been a stellar defenseman. He is a plus nine and has nine points so far this season.
Since his extension, Staal’s play has picked up and is certainly showing why he deserved his contract. Finally, there is the unsung hero of Kevin Klein. He has certainly stepped up in place of Anton Stralman. This season he is a plus fifteen and leads the Rangers’ defenseman in goals and points.
These four players will be extremely important down the stretch. Klein is having a career season and all four will be needed if the Rangers are going to make another cup run. Locking up these players was a smart move on behalf of the front office. The only issue now is that they need to lock up key players for a fair price, or they will be unwillingly forced to move a key piece of the team.