Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sauer returns

Unlike a Stone Temple Pilots hit song, there was nothing sour the other day for Mike Sauer. The last link to the Brian Leetch trade re-signed with the Rangers Thursday. The 22 year-old St. Cloud, Minnesota native was selected by the club in the 2005 second round 40th overall ahead of Paul Stastny.

For the younger brother of Kurt Sauer, injuries have been the issue. In three pro seasons spent mostly with Hartford, the defenseman's missed 50 games, including 40 in '09-10 which derailed his chances of getting another cameo on Broadway. He previously played three NHL games in 2008-09 registering two shots and posting a minus-one rating before John Tortorella overreacted to a poor second outing. Ironically, that year was his best- going 6-17-23, plus-29 with 35 penalty minutes, 2 PPG and 1 GW in 64 contests for the Wolf Pack.

Despite a strong season, Sauer was passed on the depth chart by impressive rookie Michael Del Zotto, who made the quantum leap from juniors to the NHL. Perhaps he wasn't given a fair shake due to the coach. Aside from that, the issue of Wade Redden didn't help. It looks like the Redden Era Error is about to end. Especially when you consider that the Blueshirts have already taken care of most of the blueline in re-signing Dan Girardi, signing Ryan McDonagh and adding Steve Eminger in the Aaron Voros trade to Anaheim.

With only vital anchor Marc Staal left, it's setting up to be an interesting September. While we're still six and a half weeks away from it, it's never too early to look at where the Rangers are on a D which must improve. Incumbents Michal Rozsival, Staal (once signed), Girardi and Del Zotto are all but assured of the top four. After that, it's anyone's guess as to who makes up the final three. Redden and sophomore Matt Gilroy figure to get  healthy competition from Eminger, McDonagh and Sauer. With overwhelming support for Tinman to be dumped to Hartford, the competition is welcome.

One big question remains. If Staal signs and the kids outshine Redden, does Glen Sather have the guts to finally admit his big error by designating the veteran for assignment? Only time shall tell.

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