It should be pointed out at this stage that this is not an anti Matt Gilroy crusade; in fact it’s far from it. He just doesn’t seem to fit in this Rangers team, or at least don’t seem to be able to play his natural game effectively for the Rangers. What this post is about is discussing what may become a straight up choice between two players over the summer; when the Rangers look at putting together next season’s team. The decision between the two defensemen – Gilroy or Eminger – may just come down to economics and if it does, then the choice is even simpler. When the Rangers decide who to bring back for next season they should look to Steve Eminger and not Matt Gilroy. Gilroy has a lot of talent, he is a great skater and has offensive ability but it would be a surprise if he was willing to accept significantly less salary than he earns right now and the problem is, he is only worth significantly less, at least to this team.
The Rangers clearly still plan (as they should) with Michael Del Zotto and Bryan McCabe has done enough thus far to suggest he’s worth bringing back at the right price – ahead of Gilroy and in addition to Eminger. Those two fill the need for offensive defensemen next year, just fine. McCabe has produced more offensively than Gilroy, has that cannon of a shot, is more physical and is that veteran presence this team needs at the back. That brings us to Steve Eminger. He may be the perfect low maintenance depth defenseman. He costs little (even factoring in a little rise), plays physical and has recently stepped in admirably for Marc Staal proving he can handle a bigger work load. Yes, Eminger has had his moments where he’s caught out of position or where he has made a mistake or two but as your 6th or 7th defensemen the Rangers could do a lot worse and this is the point. Whether it is Eminger or Gilroy; at this stage one of those two looks to be the extra defenseman next year. So why have a cap burden (Gilroy) in the press box?
Gilroy will find a team next year if he isn’t kept by the Rangers. He could still turn out to be a good offensive defenseman in the league (a team like Columbus seems an ideal situation for the former Hobey Baker winner) but he doesn’t fit on the Rangers now, or next season. Eminger ticks too many boxes not to keep him around for another year. Cheap, low maintenance, good depth: underrated things that every good team needs to have. For the Rangers, those things mean Steve Eminger.