The feistiness Brandon Prust brings to the Rangers is well known. Every game Prust plays he leaves it all on the ice. What wasn’t expected prior to this season (despite flashes of it last season) was the offense he brought to the table earlier this year, as well as the brilliant chemistry he established with Brian Boyle.
Prust hasn’t done much recently (offensively speaking) going pointless in 6 and minus 5 in 6. Were we spoilt by the offense he brought earlier in the season or can we expect more? Can he elevate his game further and become a 30-40 point gritty third liner or is he an 8-10 goal, bottom 6 energy guy? Prust was never a prolific scorer at junior level so the answer may be somewhere in between. With London of the OHL he had a career high of 52 points and never had a 20 goal season although in his defence he was buried on some very talented teams featuring Robbie Shremp, Corey Perry and Dave Bolland up front. John Tortorella bemoaned some of the fights Prust gets into, even criticizing himself for not stopping the chippy winger scrapping. The coach moaned publicly because Prust has made himself into a valuable role player and the Rangers are better served with him on the ice rather than in the box.
The Rangers have already got far more out of Prust than they likely expected when he came over from Calgary. He’s a good team guy and represents good cap value when you look at his comparables around the league, however his start to the season, and subsequent slip in production, allows for the question of what is Prust’s true level. In my opinion, it was a mistake not to sit Prust during the spell earlier in the year where he picked up injury after injury. However in defence of the coaches it’s hard to sit a guy with such desire and dedication, especially when he comes out with quotes like ‘It’s Just Pain’. If the Rangers get to the playoffs they’ll be infinitely more dangerous with a fully fit, re-charged Prust flying all over the ice so regardless of what Prust’s true offensive level is, he needs to be fresh to do what he’s best at.