They finally got it done. Just two days away from camp, Glen Sather brought back his most vital piece- re-signing top defenseman Marc Staal to a five year, $19.875 million contract. The deal averages $3.975 million, which should be a bargain for the 23 year-old former '05 first round pick who's the glue of the D.
It's a great day for Ranger fans because not only were they able to get Staal at a bargain but locked him up past free agency. Bringing back the younger brother of Eric and older sibling of Jordan was essential for the club to have any season and most importantly, for the future. Now that he's officially back, the Wade Redden watch can begin. Unless he blows away the competition, it looks like the Redden
In his first three seasons, Staal's tallied 13 goals and 39 assists for 52 points with a plus-six rating while racking up 144 penalty minutes over 244 games. Outside of missing two contests his rookie year, he's been a rock having played in 202 consecutive games including the playoffs. In '09-10, he established new career highs in goals (8), assists (19), points (27), plus/minus (11) and average ice time per game (23:07). Staal tied with partner Dan Girardi for 12th in the league among defensemen with 178 hits, trailing teammate Ryan Callahan (285) on the club. He also tied for third in blocked shots (97) with captain Chris Drury.
Most exciting is Staal's progression, going from two goals and 10 points in Year One to three goals and 15 points in Year Two to 8-19-27 in Year Three. He's not an offensive blueliner but possesses enough skating and instincts to contribute. Hopefully, we'll finally see Marc net his first power play goal while continuing to improve in all facets.
Look for the future alternate captain to become one of the franchise's leaders moving forward. A great thing for the club and for a fanbase dying for a contender.