Another year, another anticipated contract battle as Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports that Marc Staal’s contract extension negotiations with the Rangers could start at six-year, $5.5 million per year as he could easily obtain that number on the open market next summer.
In 460 career games, Staal has 27g, 84a. Last season he had 3g, 11a in the regular season and 1g, 4a in 25 playoff games.
The 2005 first round pick only played 67 games between 2011-13 due to a severe concussion as well as a scary puck to the eye injury. However, his performance this season likely alleviated any fears that the blurred vision he sustained from the gruesome eye injury negatively impacts his ability to play at a high level.
Staal is coming off his best puck possession season as he finished with an impressive 54.4% Corsi (% of team shot attempts for vs. against when player is on the ice) which was 3.5% higher than the Rangers 6th best league average. Staal’s Corsi dropped to 47.7% in the playoffs, however, he began shifts in the offensive zone only 23% of the time compared to 39.7% zone starts in the defensive end. During the regular season, Staal started shifts in the offensive zone 30.1% of the time compared to 32.4% in the defensive end.
…when healthy, which he was this past season, Staal is a top pair shutdown defenseman. On the Rangers, however, the second pairing is his home as he’s not good enough to play ahead of fellow lefty McDonagh and AV doesn’t like using defensemen on their off-side. Despite those circumstances, this past postseason proved Staal is a better pure defender than Girardi, who just earned his own six-year, $5.5 million per year extension. So a starting spot of $5.5 million isn’t that far fetched.
…having said that, Girardi consistently puts up more points, can stay healthy and as the below “Player Usage” chart shows, plays against better quality of competition, while being deployed in virtually the same zone starts.
…another possible strike against Staal could be the five-year, $4.5 million per year contract Anton Stralman just signed in Tampa. The former defensive partners put up similar defensive and possession statistics, so I’m not sure Sather is going to feel that Staal is worth $1M more per year than Stralman. Especially when other $5.5 million per year defensemen include Wisniewski, Keith & Ekman-Larsson.
…Staal just watched first-hand how the Callahan contract squabble played out, so I’m sure he’s more than aware that if negotiations get ugly, he’ll likely find himself playing alongside his brothers in Carolina at the trade deadline. While the $5.5M number has to be close to what the Rangers would be willing to pay Staal, I’m afraid term will be the sticking point. Six years for someone with Staal’s injury history might be tough to swallow.