As the offseason wears on, us and Matt Josephs of Blue Line Station (Twitter: 11Matt_Josephs8) will be running a tournament for the Best Ranger since the 2005 lockout. Yesterday we saw #7 Brad Richards barely squeak by #10 Martin Biron in overtime. Today’s matchup is #2 Dan Girardi vs. #15 Dmitri Kalinin.
Dan Girardi (acquired – 2006 undrafted free agent)
Girardi is this team’s version of a Cinderella story. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of the OHL’s Guelph Storm (and Ryan Callahan’s teammate), Girardi was never a noted scorer, which is why he was never noticed. But the Rangers noticed him (presumably) while scouting Cally, and signed him to an AHL deal in the summer of 2005. They didn’t sign him to an NHL contract until 2006 after impressing in the ECHL and AHL. After his deal, he played another 45 games in the AHL before sticking with the big club permanently.
Over the next six seasons, Girardi missed a total of just four (!!) games. When you take into account the minutes (sometimes up to 30) he plays and the number of shots he blocks, that’s an impressive feat. Girardi isn’t a noted scorer (31-123-154 in his career), but he’s one of the best shutdown defensemen in the game today. Girardi has been the steady rock on defense, and players such as Fedor Tyutin, Marc Staal, and Ryan McDonagh have flourished while playing with him. Girardi was given the ‘A’ when Staal went down with his injuries, and it’s no mystery as to why.
Dmitri Kalinin (acquired – 2008 unrestricted free agent)
Kalinin played just 58 games of his one-year contract with the Rangers, putting up a line of 1-12-13 while barely surviving on the bottom pairing on defense. Signed from Buffalo, Kalinin was supposed to bring balance to the bottom pairing, but he was unable to do so. The Coyotes were nice enough to take Kalinin off of Slats’ hands at the trade deadline, when they shipped Derek Morris to New York for Kalinin, Nigel Dawes, and Petr Prucha.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Girardi or Kalinin? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Girardi), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Kalinin). Voting ends at midnight tonight.