With Alexei Semenov spurning the Rangers one-year contract offer for a two-year deal in the KHL, the team has been left shorthanded as they continue to look for a seventh defenseman.

Coach John Tortorella has passed on keeping a prospect like Corey Potter or Michael Sauer because he prefers a more veteran presence to support/push youngster Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto.

I can’t say that I blamed Torts for wanting a veteran option for the seventh defenseman spot. It does not make much sense to have one of the kids sitting around with the Rangers as opposed to getting regular ice time in Hartford. Playing as a regular with the Wolf Pack trumps any practice time a youngster would get with the Blueshirts.

While there are some veterans who are available as free agents, the Rangers best option might be a trade. Mathieu Dandenault is available, but is not the physical presence the Rangers could use. Denis Gauthier is the physical/borderline nasty blueliner the team could use, but Larry Brooks of the NY Post reported that Gauthier turned down repeated requests from President/GM Glen Sather to come to training camp on a tryout basis like Semenov did.

In an October 8, 2009 online Hockey News column , Lyle Richardson (aka Spector) wrote that Tampa Bay might be showcasing two of their defensemen: David Hale and Lukas Krajicek.

Of the two players, Krajicek (6-2/200) is the better choice because he is capable of playing top four defenseman time. The 26-year-old is a solid player who has good offensive upside and fits Tortorella’s wish to have his defenseman put pressure by joining the play. While he has good size, he still could be more physical and use his size better.

Hale (6-2/213) is the opposite end of the spectrum. His offensive ability is limited, but he is a very physical player (and big hitter) who fits the mold of a defensive defenseman. Hale would project out as a nice complimentary defenseman on the third unit.

Both players are in the final year of their contract and are set to be Unrestricted Free Agents at the end of the season – so there is no long-term commitment needed from the Rangers. According to nhnumbers.com, Hale is the better option because the Rangers can fit his $600,000 salary cap hit without removing any players from the active roster. On the other hand, the Rangers would need to make a move in order to fit Krajicek’s nearly $1.5 million salary cap hit.

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