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 #1 Marc Staal shut out #16 Darius Kasparaitais. Today’s matchup is #8 Chris Drury vs. #9 Marek Malik.
Chris Drury (acquired – 2007 unrestricted free agent)
Drury will forever be linked to the 2007 free agency binge that the Rangers went on. The club inked the former Sabres captain to a five year deal with a cap hit of $7.05m per season. Following back-to-back 30-goal, 65-point seasons, Drury did not find the same success on the stat sheet when coming to New York. That said, he still put up a pair of 20-goal, 55-point campaigns. That’s not exactly bad for a guy who was signed to be the second line center (Scott Gomez was the top center, if we remember correctly). Drury was also named captain of the team, and had the respect of the locker room.
Drury’s balky knee was eventually his undoing, as he could not keep up with a high-intensity Torts style. The team bought Drury out in 2011, and Drury retired a few months later. Overall, Drury put up a line of 62-89-149 in 264 games, with 47-67-114 coming in his first two years (163 games).
Marek Malik (acquired – 2005 unrestricted free agent)
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Welcome to Part II of Justin’s Preseason Top 30 Goaltenders list. In case you missed rankings 30-21, here they are. Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at a couple more tendys that didn’t make the cut this year after gracing the list in 2012…
Ilya Bryzgalov, Free Agent: I caught a lot of flack for ranking Mr. Universe at #20 last season. Bryz is a very strange case. He is still a pretty decent goalie, but he is a massive headcase and the circus following him out of Philadelphia contributed to his omission from the list. It will be interesting to see if he is able to catch on with an NHL club at some point this season.
Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues: Halak actually ranked #12 last season, but recurring injuries and generally poor play pushed the Slovakian out. If he comes back healthy and has a strong, full campaign this year, don’t be surprised to see him back on the list next season. He is still only 28, but his lower-body injuries are starting to pile up, which is very concerning.
With that out of the way, rankings 20-11. Read more »
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)
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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)
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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 #6 Petr Prucha beat #11 Paul Mara. Today’s matchup is #7 Brad Richards vs. #10 Martin Biron.
Brad Richards (acquired – 2011 unrestricted free agent)
Richards came on board with the Rangers in July of 2011, signing a nine-year back-loaded deal that many assumed would not be worth it towards the end of the contract. His first year wasn’t bad, putting up 25 goals and 66 points, but his second season was an unmitigated disaster. Clearly unprepared for the lockout shortened season, Richards looked slow, sluggish, and lost. That said, his point totals weren’t exactly terrible, putting up 11-23-34 in 44 games. In his first two seasons, Richards has a line of 36-64-100 in 128 games. That’s not exactly horrible.
Richards was the subject of many buyout rumors this summer, but the Rangers decided to keep him around. Even in this market, a 65 point center is tough to find for $6.6 million.
Martin Biron (acquired – 2010 unrestricted free agent)
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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 #3 Rick Nash beat #14 Steve Eminger. Today’s matchup is #6 Petr Prucha vs. #11 Paul Mara.
Petr Prucha (acquired – 2002 draft, 8th round)
Prucha burst on to the scene as a rookie in the 2005-2006 season, becoming the first Ranger rookie to score 30 goals in a season since Tony Amonte 14 seasons prior. The tiny winger (listed at 6′ and 175 lbs, but I think that’s generous) won over Ranger fans very quickly with his goal scoring and his blue collar play. Prucha clicked with Jaromir Jagr on the top powerplay unit, and never looked back. He scored 22 goals in his second season with the Rangers, but dropped off and found himself as a healthy scratch for the majority of his final two seasons in New York. Prucha was a healthy scratch so often that he wasn’t even included in the Tom Renney line generator.
Prucha was eventually sent to Phoenix with Nigel Dawes and Dmitri Kalinin for Derek Morris. He spent two more years there before bolting for the KHL. During his Rangers career, Prucha had a line of 63-50-113 in 237 games.
Paul Mara (acquired – 2007 trade with Boston)
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Sykora joined Kreider as the double-digit upset winner.
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 #13 Petr Sykora upset #4 Sean Avery. Today’s matchup is #3 Rick Nash vs. #14 Steve Eminger. You might notice we skipped #6 Petr Prucha vs. #11 Paul Mara, but since I expect that to be a close vote, I want to run that on Monday.
Rick Nash (acquired – 2012 trade with Columbus)
Nash came to the Rangers in an offseason blockbuster that sent Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a 2013 1st round pick (Kerby Rychel) to the Blue Jackets for Nash, Steven Delisle, and a 2013 3rd round pick (Pavel Buchnevich). Nash was everything that was advertised for the Rangers, putting up 21 goals and 42 points in 44 games. Over an 82-game season, that averages out to about 40 goals and 80 points. Nash is the game breaker that the Rangers have needed desperately. With Nash, they have someone who can draw the opposition’s top defenders and still come out with a dominant shift.
It is necessary to point out that with Nash, the Rangers were expected to be a dominant offensive force. However, the struggles of Gaborik and Richards threw a wrench into that, leading to Gaborik’s trade for key depth players. None of that is on Nash, who performed in a manner that we expected.
Steve Eminger (acquired – 2010 trade with Anaheim)
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A Prust/Avery matchup next round would be interesting.
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 #5 Brandon Prust record the tournament’s first shutout over #12 Nik Antropov. Today’s matchup is #4 Sean Avery vs. #13 Petr Sykora:
Sean Avery (acquired – 2007 trade with LA, 2009 waivers)
No single player made more of an impact following a trade than Sean Avery. Acquired from the Kings for Jason Ward, Marc-Andre Cliche, Jan Marek, and a 2008 3rd round pick, Avery was brought in to give the vanilla Rangers some grit and attitude. He did more than that. In those first 29 games, Avery scored nine goals and added twelve assists. His first full season saw Avery become a true agitator, putting up 15-18-33 while drawing more than one full penalty for every one he took. During the playoffs, he single-handedly made the NHL change its rules when he took to unorthodox measures to screen Marty Brodeur.
Avery eventually signed with Dallas on a four-year deal, but that lasted about four months. After angering pretty much the entire locker room, Avery was banished from the franchise, where the Rangers agreed to allow him to play with Hartford, and claim him on re-entry waivers. This was a different Avery though, as the refs had honed in on him, and he was far less effective, drawing just 0.1 penalties more for every penalty he took. Avery eventually was waived and sent to the AHL, where he was eventually removed from the team after being less-than-professional. He is now “retired.”
Petr Sykora (acquired – 2006 trade with Anaheim)
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Zuccarello upset Gomez yesterday, our third upset of the tournament.
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 #9 Mats Zuccarello upset #8 Scott Gomez. Today’s matchup is #5 Brandon Prust vs. #12 Nik Antropov:
Brandon Prust (acquired – 2010 trade with Calgary)
Brandon Prust was initially the throw-in with Olli Jokinen that the Rangers acquired for Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik. However, he won over the hearts of Rangers fans everywhere with his blue collar play, hustle, work ethic, and his willingness to drop the gloves on a regular basis. His first full season with the Rangers was Prust’s best of his career, putting up a line of 13-16-29 while playing on the third line with Brian Boyle and Ruslan Fedotenko. This line started just 40% of their shifts in the offensive zone, making it difficult for Prust to even hit these kind of numbers. His second and final full year with the Rangers had less offense, but more of a defensive role as Torts line-matched the trio often.
All told, Prust’s contributions to the Rangers are measured off the stat page. His 22-33-55 line in 190 games doesn’t touch on the way he sparked the team on the ice. The Rangers –rightfully– let him walk after Montreal offered him a four-year deal worth $2.5 million annually.
Nik Antropov (acquired – 2009 trade with Toronto)
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Things are a little slow here in Rangerland as we count down to the pre-season, so I thought I’d tackle a more global topic.
Not withstanding the (now completely predictable) labor squabbles of recent years, the NHL has consistently investigated and implemented ways to improve its overall on-ice product. They aren’t plagued with the constant felony arrests of the NFL and NBA, nor the drunk driving and steroid issues of MLB. Most of the athletes are humble professionals who respect the game and the fans. Now, the NHL is not without its problems. There have been several nagging issues that have persisted through rule changes, new committees, summer R&D camps and beta tests in lower leagues. The most demonstrative examples include not enough goal scoring, concussions and obstruction-type penalties.
Now, all three of these major problems could be solved by one simple solution, and it’s not one anyone around the league wants to consider, myself included: moving the NHL to olympic sized rinks. I know what you’re thinking, I don’t like it either. It seems borderline sacrilegious. The NHL has always played on North American sized rinks. It’s what has differentiated the NHL from the Olympics and the inferior European leagues. We like the physicality, the fighting, the hard-nosed style of play that comes along with the smaller rink, but consider each league problem…
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