Possible third pair defense problem

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 28: New York Rangers #45 Braden Schneider checks out Max Dome #13 of the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Six of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 28, 2022, in New York City. Rangers beat the Hurricanes 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers roster is almost set as we head into 2022-23. In the future, we know exactly who will make up the team, it is just a matter of where they will play. But what about defense? There is a big question mark when it comes to the third conjugation.

Look for Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren to form the first duo. Jacob Trueba and Kendre Miller will be the second pair. What about the third pair?

Here are the candidates. Braden Schneider has the inside track as the right-hander based on his start last season. When it comes to the left side, there are three candidates: Lebor Hajek, Zach Jones, and Matthew Robertson.

While Ranger fans are thrilled that the Patrick Nemeth era is over in New York, it’s worth noting that it was Justin Brown who played most of the playoffs for Schneider, not any of this season’s favorites. Gerard Gallant clearly appreciated the experience Brown had brought to the table, something he is sorely lacking in 2022-23.

Experience or lack thereof

Here’s how many games the two defenders have played for a potential third duo in the NHL:

  • 21-year-old Braden Sneijder has 63 regular season and playoff matches
  • Libor Hajik, 24, played 94 matches (17 last season).
  • 22-year-old Zach Jones played 22 games in the National Hockey League (12 last season)
  • 21-year-old Matthew Robertson did not make his NHL debut.

While we celebrate the young Rangers who have been incredibly successful in feeding their players strength in the NHL, this is still an inexperienced third defensive pair. Furthermore, it lacks the guidance and guidance that a seasoned veteran can provide.

The system’s experienced defensemen are 30-year-old Jared Tenordi and 29-year-old Andy Welinsky. While they both have NHL experience, neither could be considered a candidate for a regular role in the third pair.

It may be hard to believe, but it’s possible (but not very likely) that we’ll miss Patrick Nemeth.

any solutions?

Can the Rangers add an experienced Defender through a free agency? They’re tough against the salary cap with only $1 million in the cap space. This number includes 13 strikers, seven defenders and two goalkeepers. Does not include Vitali Kravtsov ($875 AAV) or Professional Tryout (PTO) Jimmy Vesey filter.

Concessions became a big issue for New York. Libor Hajek and Vitali Kravtsov are not exempt from concessions. Rangers can’t send them to Hartford without being detected and it’s pretty certain that both of them will be kidnapped. So, if Kravtsov is to be added to the list, there is absolutely no ceiling space to add a veteran defenseman.

There are some advocates for free agents who could be a good fit. There’s 29-year-old Nathan Beaulieu, a 10-year veteran who played for Galant at QMJHL. Arthur Stiple of The Athletic mentioned (subscription required) that he could be a PTO candidate.

Of course, any discussion of veterans should include 45-year-old Zdeno Chara. Before ruling out this possibility, it is worth noting that he has incredible leadership qualities, and playing the protected minutes in the third pair may suit him well. He played 77 games for the Islanders last season and hasn’t had a negative plus/minus rating since 2001. He may be slow, but he’s not Nemeth.

To make way for anyone to sign in the NHL bottom line, Rangers will likely have to demote Hajik and risk losing him to a waiver claim. Given that Galant preferred to use Nemeth or Braun over Hajek, his days as a Ranger may be numbered. The other option is to demote Zach Jones again, a move that wouldn’t make the young defender very happy.

So far

Zach Jones appears to be the favorite to join Braden Schneider’s squad to form a third defense duo. Gerard Gallant was very complimented about Jones after he replaced Adam Fox in the squad for a few games in February.

He told reporters, “What we love about him is, he can skate, he drives the disc really well. He’s a talented guy. He can play a game of strength if you need him. I think he played really well. He came in and he was confident and he’s a lot like the Schneider kid who came in and they They are confident in themselves.” Gallant added, “They did a good job in MLS, played well and had a professional playing experience. I have nothing but good things to say from what I saw from him.”

This certainly sounds like an interesting endorsement and is more than he said about Nils Lundqvist, Hajik or Robertson.

Another option is to break up the top four in a whole new defensive arrangement, but given the Fox-Lindgren and Tropa-Miller chemistry, why mess with success?

No matter how confident the Schneider-Jones pairing is, they bring 85 NHL experiences to the table and that’s not a lot. That might lead to some adventurous nights out at Madison Square Garden this season. stay tuned

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