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, #3 Ryan McDonagh took out #2 Brendan Shanahan to earn a shot at #1 Henrik Lundqvist in the Tom Renney Bracket Finals. Today, #1 Ryan Callahan takes on #4 Carl Hagelin to earn the first spot in the John Tortorella Bracket Finals.
Ryan Callahan (acquired – 2004 draft, 4th round)
The Rangers actually acquired the draft pick used to select Cally from San Jose in exchange for the negotiating rights to Mark Messier. It’s funny how the Rangers traded the rights to their captain, and used that draft pick to draft a future captain. Cally saw his first NHL action in 2006-2007, playing 14 games with the Rangers. He played 52 games with the club the following season, which included an 11 game stint in Hartford. After that Cally stuck with the club and has been an all-round beast for the Rangers since. In his full Ranger career to date, Cally has put together a line of 121-108-229 in 405 games, and has slowly climbed from averaging 40 points per season to averaging close to 60 points over a full season. Cally has been the captain of the team since 2011, and was an alternate captain from 2009.
There’s not much else to say about Cally. We all know who he is and what he means to this team.
Carl Hagelin (acquired – 2007 draft, 6th round)
Carl Hagelin is the latest of late-round steals by the Rangers. Drafted prior to his freshman year at Michigan, Hagelin was a project pick. He was expected to spend four years at Michigan, and did just that. When the Rangers signed Hagelin, he became the second Wolverines captain to come to the Rangers in a five-year span (Jed Ortmeyer). Many projected he would make the big club out of camp, but Hagelin spent the first two months of the season in Connecticut before his first call up. The puck possession monster put up a line of 14-24-38 in the remaining 64 games that season, and was one of the major turning points of the season for the Rangers.
With all that speed and skill, Hagelin is a bit inconsistent. He shows flashes, but he needs to harness that on a regular basis in order to be a top-flight top-six forward. Right now he is one of the best puck possession forwards in the NHL who will contribute 15-20 goals and 40 or so points. That output puts him at the cusp of the top-six, or one of the best third liners in hockey. Throw in his superb defensive and penalty killing ability, and Hagelin’s value to this club will only go up.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Cally or Hagelin? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Callahan), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Hagelin). Voting ends at midnight tonight.