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Torts on the defensemen; McIlrath not ready

With Marc Staal staying behind for at least the first five or six days of the European segment of pre-season, coach John Tortorella says he won't add another defenseman from the organization at this point.

"We were taking 11, now it's 10. Everybody bumps up and it gives them more of an opportunity," he said.

Those defensemen are: Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, Steve Eminger, Michael Del Zotto, Brendan Bell, Tim Erixon, Blake Parlett, Stu Bickel and Dylan McIlrath.

McIlrath, the club's No. 1 draft pick in 2010, will be sent back to Moose Jaw at some point before the season, Tortorella said. "He has some work to do, he’s not ready. This gives us more of a chance to keep him playing, keep evaluating and keep teaching."

Bell, a veteran, and Erixon, a rookie, need work on positioning, Torts said. "We have work to do with Tim as far as gaps; he takes a penalty because of bad positioning on a faceoff (against the Devils), we do a lot of things in front that other teams don’t do, playing on the near post rather than the back post."

As for the re-assignment of Pavel Valentenko, who must clear waivers by noon tomorrow in order to be sent to Hartford, Torts said: "We've gotta be careful with our expectations. He was a little banged up. I talked to him yesterday, so he goes down there and plays and it could be a very fluid situation as far as our D is concerned. He’s just going to go down and practice. I wasn’t overly disappointed. I don’t think he had that great a camp, but we're still going to evaluate over the next few weeks."

My take? Unless the Rangers land a defenseman through waivers, free agency or a trade, Bell could wind up the 6-7 defenseman. Not sure Erixon will be ready.  


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