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 #2 Dan Girardi blow out #15 Dmitri Kalinin. Today’s matchup is #1 Marc Staal vs. #16 Darius Kasparaitis.
Marc Staal (acquired – 2005 draft, 1st round)
The Rangers traded up in the 2005 draft, surrendering their 1st round pick (#16 – Alex Bourret) and 2nd round pick (#41 – Ondrej Pavelec) to Atlanta for the #12 pick, which they used on Staal. Staal broke in with the Rangers during his first professional season, and by his second season had proved himself worthy of top-pairing minutes. Not a noted scorer, Staal has primarily been a shutdown defenseman, putting up 24-73-97 in 388 games. Staal played almost every game of the season for his first three years, before a concussion sidelined him for the majority of the 2011-2012 season. A freak eye injury sidelined him for half of the 2013 season as well.
When healthy, Staal is a top-two defenseman on a team that is competing for a Stanley Cup. When 75%, he’s still a top-four defenseman.
Darius Kasparaitis (acquired – 2002 unrestricted free agent)
The Rangers signed Kasparaitis to a four-year deal in the 2002 offseason. His post-lockout Ranger career was two seasons and just 91 games long, where Kasparaitis saw the new NHL exploit his skating ability. His two seasons following the lost year saw Kasparaitis put up a line of 2-8-10 in those 91 games. What many people do forget about Kasparaitis is that he was an alternate captain on the 2005-2006 Ranger team that surprised everyone and made it to the playoffs.
The Rangers waived Kasparaitis in 2007 and assigned him to Hartford, where he finished out the remainder of his contract before bolting to the KHL.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Staal or Kasparaitis? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Staal), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Kasparaitis). Voting ends at midnight tonight.