Sauer Sidelined Indefinitely (Again), Now What?

Michael Sauer has been shut down by trainer Jim Ramsay again after having concussion-like symptoms.  Sauer had worked out with the team in a non-contact jersey last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  From the Daily News’s Pat Leonard:

Tortorella said trainer Jim Ramsay has “backed (Sauer) off” from activity both on and off the ice, after Sauer skated from Monday to Wednesday last week for the first time since Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf laid him out Dec. 5 at the Garden.

“He hasn’t really felt that great after a few days on the ice, so Rammer’s backed him off,” Tortorella said. “I’m just waiting for a yes or a no, and right now it’s a no.”

So, yeah.  That’s not good news.

What it does mean until Sauer can resume working out with the team is that the Fab Five (Girardi, McD, Staal, DZ and Sauer) is now the Core Four, leaving two spots open in the rotation for 4 defensemen (Stralman, Bickel, Woywitka and Eminger).

Right now, with Eminger a couple of weeks away, it looks like Woywitka’s going to be the odd man out until someone falters (he’s a healthy scratch again for tonight’s game against the Jets).  When Eminger returns, however, Torts is going to have a couple of decisions to make.  Each of these guys has performed pretty well when asked to step in.

I think it’s far more likely that one of these guys gets moved for some scoring, if possible.  But if they’re not moved, here’s how I see these four guys, from top to bottom:

1)  Eminger – One of these spots is his to lose.  Torts loves him.  He’s a steady, solid third-pair defenseman.  The two best things about Eminger are that he’s relatively young (28) and pretty cheap ($800,000).  he’s got 4 points (2-2) in his 32 games this year and averages about 13 minutes on the ice.  That’s reasonably solid production.  What’s more, he’s got great fundamentals.  He may not make all the plays, but he definitely doesn’t make too many stupid ones.

2)  Bickel – Hear me out on this one.  I think the Rangers would love to stash him in Hartford for the rest of the season, once Eminger is healthy, and have him play out the season there and potentially compete for a spot next year.  There’s just absolutely no chance that he’ll clear waivers after he’s shown that he can compete at this level.  Everyone is hungry for defensive help.  I think he’s acquitted himself nicely and he’s still learning.  Plus, I love the fight this guy has in him.

3)  Stralman – I think they keep him with the big club just to keep Bickel motivated to keep growing.

4)  Woywitka – I think he’s the oddest man out, assuming that there’s no trade brewing.  I also think he’s probably the most likely to be traded.

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