It’s not fair that Derek Dorsett will always be compared with Brandon Prust, but he’s done a pretty good impersonation
That’s not really a fair title to Derek Dorsett, who could surely care less what Brandon Prust did in New York before Dorsett’s arrival. But fair or not, “Brandon Prust 2.0″ is how Dorsett was billed when he arrived in the Marian Gaborik blockbuster last spring, so Prust is the player Dorsett will forever be compared to in the eyes of Rangers fans.
Prust’s game has changed a bit over the last two seasons due to injuries, but at his best with the Rangers he was relentless on the forecheck, a willing combatant, a reliable penalty killer and one of New York’s most important energy guys.
Dorsett has settled in nicely this year and has filled an almost identical role. Like Prust, Dorsett has been a terrific forechecker, a dependable penalty killer, and a trusted player in his own end (just 38% of his shifts have started in the attack zone). And if fighting is your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that Dorsett has five majors this season, second in the league. Perhaps the greatest difference between the two is in the energy jolt they deliver to the lineup. This is an extremely subjective observation, but it seems that even though Dorsett goes all out every night, he hasn’t yet displayed the same penchant for shaking his team awake that Prust once did.
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Over the past few days, we have seen some fairly significant roster turnover for the Rangers. While the majority of the core remains intact, the Rangers saw Arron Asham and Taylor Pyatt come in to –for all intents and purposes– replace Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko, and John Mitchell.
We’ve analyzed Asham versus Prust and Pyatt versus Fedotenko individually. But to be fair, you need to compare both Asham and Pyatt versus Fedotenko, Prust, and Mitchell to get a real idea of where the Rangers stand after three days of free agency.
Using the same metrics as the two posts prior, let’s look at the defensive metrics of these five players combined:
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Much noise was made yesterday when the Rangers went ahead and signed Arron Asham to a two year deal worth $1 million per season. At the time of the deal, Brandon Prust had not signed, but all had assumed that Prust would be signing elsewhere. About an hour later, Prust signed with the Montreal Canadiens with a whopping four year, $10 million contract.
For those keeping track, the Rangers spent $2 million on Asham as opposed to $10 million on Prust. That equals $8 million in savings, with $1.5 million being saved in each of the first two years, and then $2.5 million saved in the following two years. That’s a lot of coin to save. But outside of the money, is there a real difference between Prust and Asham on the ice?
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Entering the first day of free agency it was widely thought that the Rangers would seek to upgrade their offense and add a depth defender.
Instead, the Blueshirts added grit on July 1st while watching several of their own free agents depart for greener pastures.
Here’s what went down on Sunday.
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During Day Two of the draft yesterday, Brandon Prust tweeted that he appears to be parting ways with the Rangers organization, and will sign elsewhere on July 1:
I wish management wanted me back as much as the fans.. Thanks for the love everyone
Per Larry Brooks, the disagreement between Prust and Rangers brass is about $400,000 annually:
The 28-year-old winger, who is coming off a two-year deal in which he earned $800,000 per, is believed to be seeking a three-year contract in the range of $6.6 million while the Rangers are offering approximately $1.2 million less than that over the life of the contract.
Breaking this down, Prust wants roughly $2.2 million per year, and the Rangers are offering $1.8 million per season. The difference of $400,000 per year means Prust would earn $1.2 million less over the life of the contract.
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Fuss about Fogarty?
2011 third-round pick Steven Fogarty didn’t get a whole lot of attention this year because of the rise of Chris Kreider and stunning point total of Michael St. Croix, but the Penticton Vee had a monster season in his own right. Fogarty will attend the University of Notre Dame next year where he’ll be more in the spotlight. I’ll bet he’s the surprise prospect we’re all discussing this time next year and there will be brief discussion of his chances of making the team in 2013. He still needs a couple more seasons of development, but Fogarty may put himself on the fast track sooner than we were led to believe.
Lightning acquire Lindback
I don’t think Tampa Bay’s acquisition of goalie Anders Lindback got enough attention last week. Remember, the Lightning were one win away from the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals before falling apart this season, in large part due to lackluster goaltending. Lindback is relatively unproven, but in a small sample size he has shown the potential to be a solid starter. He could be the difference between a lottery pick and a playoff berth for Tampa.
Nashville will undoubtedly unearth a couple of All-Stars with the draft picks they received from Tampa, but the Lightning did well to hold on to their two first-rounders (#10 and #19 overall). I think the trade also marks the end of Dwayne Roloson’s NHL career and it opens the door for Toronto to get Roberto Luongo.
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Per Larry Brooks, the gap between the Rangers and free agent Brandon Prust is a sizable one:
Though sources stressed that lines of communication remain open and that it is conceivable that Prust could re-sign before July 1, it is believed the difference between the parties is significant — upward of $1 million over the life of a three-year contract.
With ten days until free agency, a $1 million gap may as well be $5 million, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Rangers are going to let Prust walk. A part of the core of forwards that coach John Tortorella leans on, Prust would be a valuable asset to any club. You don’t just let someone like that walk away.
Coming off his two-year, $1.6 million contract ($800k cap hit), Prust is due for a large raise. Many, including myself, price the winger in the $1.5-$2 million range. It’s represents a big raise in recognition of hard work and production, while still recognizing that Prust is a fourth line player. He may be famous for saying that “It’s just pain”, but he’s a bottom six forward.
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Brandon Prust is another example of Glen Sather’s recent ability to pull off trade theft. A throw in that became a core player and a great example of the black and blue, never say die Rangers identity. To cap it off, his last contract signed with the Rangers, a two year $800k/year deal, was a bargain thus further cementing Prust as a quality addition to the Rangers club.
With that said, there will be a market for Prust should he make free agency this summer and given his solid reputation as a fine bottom six player, excellent penalty killer and tough competitor with a little offense to his game, Prust will certainly have suitors outside of New York.
Prust therefore will have the opportunity to cash in should he choose to do so. The Rangers will likely have the opportunity to re-up him but may have to match or outbid other teams. Clubs such as the Leafs have been mentioned as a destination. What is a price that the Rangers would stop matching at? Can the Rangers replace Prust from within should he leave?
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The bottom six forwards get a raw deal sometimes. Many base their usefulness on their offensive output, and unfortunately that is just not the role of the bottom six forward. Sure, contributing offensively is nice, but the role of these players is to shut down the opposition’s top lines. They are the ones that do the dirty work, they keep the opposing goons in check, they wear down the opposition.
So based on the above, let me reiterate these grades are based on the players executing their specific roles within our team concept. This isn’t just based on stats.
Boy did Boyle have some major responsibilities this season. He was generally responsible for lining up against the opposition’s top scorers and was given the job of shutting them down. He also was the guy that Torts turned to when he needed a defensive zone face off win. People look to his drop in scoring (11-15-26 this year, a drop from 21-14-35 last year) and they assume Boyle has just been awful. That’s not the case. Boyle started just 28.8% of all his shifts in the offensive zone, good for lowest rate on the team. But yet, he managed to finish 43.9% of his shifts in the offensive zone. The result: a player that did his job. He handled the defensive zone pressure and set up the Rangers in the offensive zone. Oh, and he was tied with Brad Richards and John Mitchell for second on the team in face off win percentage (51.8%).
In the playoffs, Boyle was clearly getting under the Ottawa Senators’ skin, which is why Chris Neil decided to target him with a head shot. Boyle was one of the most effective Ranger forwards before the concussion, and was clearly not the same after. Mid-season: B/Full Season: A-/Playoffs: B+.
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Brendan Shanahan may have done the Rangers a huge favour by suspending Brandon Prust for game four. In the past few years no team has better utilized an ‘us against the world’ mentality better than the NFL’s New York Giants. Consistently written off by the media, the Giants used that apparent lack of respect and turned it into a huge motivating factor that helped win two Superbowls. They played with a chip on their shoulders.
In many ways the blatant inconsistencies so evident in the NHL’s disciplinary this post season and grievances the Rangers have had throughout the playoffs can be used the same way the Giants used the lack of respect to strive for success. The Rangers; such a close knit, team-first-individual-second kind of team will use the absence of Prust the right way. They won’t be crying over the suspension.
Coach Tortorella has been more than vocal in his disdain for the way Brendan ‘losing league-wide respect by the second’ Shanahan has ruled over his players and the way the NHL’s VP of player safety so often hasn’t ruled against others.
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