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, #4 Artem Anisimov beat #5 Anton Stralman by a very slim margin. Today, the second round continues with #3 Ryan McDonagh vs. #6 Markus Naslund.
Ryan McDonagh (acquired – 2009 trade with Canadiens)
On June 30, 2009, Glen Sather shocked the world when he completed the now infamous Scott Gomez trade. Gomez, along with Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto, was shipped to Montreal in exchange for Chris Higgins, Doug Janik, unknown prospect Pavel Valentenko, and former first round pick Ryan McDonagh. After signing his ELC in 2010, McDonagh got his first call up in January of that season, and played the remaining 40 games with the Rangers. In that short stint, McDonagh proved he could be relied upon as a top-four defenseman.
The following season, McDonagh forced his way on to the top pairing by playing big minutes against the opposition’s best players. When Marc Staal went down with his injury(ies), it was McDonagh that lessened that blow. As he starts adding offense to his game (7-25-32 in his second season, 4-15-19 in the lockout season), it appears his potential is limitless. He is the #1 defenseman on a team privileged to have three top-pairing defensemen, and five top-four defensemen.
Markus Naslund (acquired – 2008 unrestricted free agent)
Naslund may be seeded a little high, considering he was a Ranger for just one season. But that one season was still pretty productive for a goal-starved Rangers team. Naslund’s 24 goals led the team that year, and his 46 points put him fourth on the team. In the playoffs, Naslund didn’t exactly light the lamp in the Rangers’ seven game loss to the Caps, scoring a goal and adding two assists in the series. Then again, no one really scored in that series. For Naslund’s one year on Broadway, he was pretty effective.
Naslund retired before the second year of his contract, helping the Rangers stay under the 2009-2010 salary cap with both Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan hitting restricted free agency.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, McDonagh or Naslund? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (McDonagh), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Naslund). Voting ends at midnight tonight.