Summer's ending. You can feel it in the air as evidenced by the windy conditions at yesterday's U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows. Cooler temps are finally here and leaves are changing. Even Ilya Kovalchuk is finally signed. So, what's taking Glen Sather so long to re-sign his most important piece on a thin blueline? It's time for Mr. Cuban to get Marc Staal signed.
Staal is far too vital for the Rangers to consider screwing around. We get Slats' hardball tactics. He always treats his own with kid gloves while overpaying for free agents. Even if Alexander Frolov might not be overpaid, assuming the enigmatic yet gifted former King pans out under the bright lights. While it's nice to be optimistic about a new season which is a month away, not even the biggest Dolan Kool Aid drinker would think this team is going anywhere without it's top defender.
In three seasons, the future alternate captain has improved. Already a strong defender who's reliable, Staal made strides under John Tortorella offensively- posting career highs across the board in goals (8), assists (19), points (27) and plus/minus (11) where he fared well despite Ranger deficiencies. Quite frankly, the 23 year-old younger brother of Eric Staal deserves a nice raise. It doesn't have to be astronomical. Considering that Sather gave a ton of respect to shutdown partner Dan Girardi ($3.325 M), why shouldn't the mature kid from Thunder Bay be due something in that ballpark? To reiterate, the former '05 No.1 pick is the team's most valuable.
It's time for the games to end. They must get him locked up. If they don't, there won't be a season.