If there’s one problem that has plagued the Rangers longer than the broken power play, it’s a lack of depth on defense.
You’ll never confuse Steve Eminger with a Norris Trophy candidate, but the 29-year-old has provided tremendous support for New York’s top blueliners over the last three seasons. Whether Eminger was asked to sit in the press box or absorb major minutes in the stead of an injured member of the rearguard, he has shown up ready to do his job. You can’t ask for more than that from a guy that made $750k last year.
The real key for the Rangers is that Eminger must be retained with the intention of being no more than a sixth defenseman, and preferably a spare seventh or eighth. Nearly every true Stanley Cup contender has adequate subs on defense; the Rangers have not for several seasons.
Eminger knows New York and has developed friendships with several teammates. It should be no trouble to ink him to another contract for a year and under a million dollars.
Rather than bring in a wildcard D-man (see Hamrlik, Roman, Gilroy, Matt and scores of others), New York should stick with what has been a proven commodity. Eminger doesn’t offer much offense from the back end, but he’s reliable positionally and has learned to maximize the somewhat limited talent he has.
Most importantly, Eminger has provided invaluable insurance in recent years and there’s no reason to think he can’t do so again. We all know the oft-injured Rangers need it.