Remember Derek Boogaard? He’s the enforcer that Glen Sather signed to a four-year $6.5 million deal ($1.65 million a year) on the first day of free agency last summer. After coming to camp overweight, he played 22 games for the Rangers, fighting a few hand injuries along the way, before going on LTIR with a concussion after a fight with Matt Carkner two months ago. He has been on LTIR since then, and has not even been a second thought amongst Ranger fans or the coaching staff.
As per Larry Brooks, Boogaard is making strides towards his return, but a return this year still seems unlikely:
There is no timetable for Boogaard’s return, but sources have said the 28-year-old winger is making progress toward a recovery from the symptoms that had plagued him following the fight and leading up to the All-Star break.
Boogaard seems to be the forgotten injury for the Rangers this season. He has missed two months, but the Rangers are playing great hockey without him, and don’t really need the enforcer in the lineup. Guys like Brandon Prust and Sean Avery have more fighting majors than Boogaard, and more importantly, more wins in those fights. While Boogaard was playing, he was getting less than five minutes per game, and the lack of playing time limited his effectiveness as an intimidating enforcer. While he was on the ice, opponents were at least temporarily deterred from taking runs at Ranger players.
His best moment this season was when he took the puck at the blue line against the Capitals, raced in the zone, and blasted a howitzer past Michal Neuvirth for his first goal since 2006. If he were to miraculously be ready to play, he wouldn’t exactly fit into the current Rangers system. His inability to skate makes him a liability, and would put more pressure on the Rangers other 11 forwards to compensate. In the short term, it looks like Boogaard’s season is done. But is his career as a Ranger done after just 22 games? I would call it a 50/50 chance at this point.