In an attempt to shuffle the Rangers blue line deck, President/GM Glen Sather traded Aaron Ward to the Boston Bruins for Paul Mara. The deal is basically a wash salary-wise because Mara has one more year T $3 million and Ward has one year at $2.75 million.

In addition to acquiring Mara, the Rangers have again recalled forwards Jarkko Immonen Brad Isbister from the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The 27-year-old Mara was originally the first round pick (#7) by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1997 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-4 and 219 pound Mara is a native of Ridgewood, NJ is a veteran of 483 NHL games and has scored 55 goals and 141 assists with 476 PIM. He has appeared in 59 games with the Bruins and has 3 goals and 15 assists with 95PIM. What is most troubling is his Plus/Minus total which is a minus-22. Actually, he is a Minus-104 for his career and has always been a minus player except for a 16 game stretch with Tampa Bay in 2000-01 when he was a plus-1.

“He’s a big body, a strong guy. He has attributes we think we could use in our game and on our team, ” said Rangers head coach Tom Renney when asked about Mara following Tuesday’s win over Montreal. “I anticipate that. He helps our power play because he has a great shot, naturally. We’ll see, obviously we made the deal for a reason.”

Mara set career highs for goals and assists during the 2005-2006 season when he scored 15 goals and 32 assists in 78 games with Phoenix. The Coyotes traded Mara and a draft pick to Boston for Nick Boynton and a draft pick in June 2006. Ironically enough, Boynton’s name has come up in various trade rumors with the Rangers.

Here is Mara’s TSN Scouting Report:

Assets: Has the size teams look for in a blueliner and skates very well for a big man. Displays the mentality of a power-play quarterback and likes to lead the rush.

Flaws: Needs more polish in the defensive zone and more overall experience in big-game situations. Must also use a more physical approach against talented forwards.

While TSN projects him to be a “top four defenseman”, Mara has not played up to his potential. However, the Rangers do get a bit younger and add a potential leader on the point for the power play. However, given the Rangers flaws on defense, Mara runs the risk of being a liability on defense.

The Mara acquisition is similar to Sather’s acquisition of Sandis Ozolinsh at the 2006 trade deadline. Both players leave a lot to be desired in the defensive zone. On the plus side, Mara still has some room to grow and his healthy as opposed to Ozolinsh who is/was injury prone and is at the end of his career.

The problem with this deal is that with Mara and Karel Rachunek in the lineup, the Rangers have two poor defensive defensemen. Given Tom Renney’s reluctance to use Thomas Pock, that means Renney has to juggle the defensive pairing or run the risk of pairing Mara and Rachunek – which is a disaster waiting to happen. Sather’s next move has to be move Rachunek, who us an UFA, for whatever he can get. The next move would be to recall Ivan Baranka to take Rachunek’s place.

The trade reunites Ward with Bruins coach Dave Lewis who was an assistant back in the days when Ward was a member of the Red Wings.

Speaking of the Red Wings, TSN is reporting a deal in principle has been agreed to between Detroit and the Florida Panthers. The deal involves the Red Wings sending a prospect and a conditional draft pick for Todd Bertuzzi.

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