He was supposed to be out of gas, injured to the point of being irrelevant and maybe to the point where his NHL career was in doubt but since returning from injury Vinny Prospal has proved just why he was such a good acquisition for the Rangers; highlighted by his 2 goal game against the Bruins Monday night. Prospal’s proving why the Rangers should bring him back next season so long as the veteran doesn’t get greedy in the summer.
The Rangers, in the most important part of a transition season have required the veteran leadership and enthusiasm that Prospal brings. It serves as a perfect compliment to the youthful exuberance provided by the likes of Callahan, Dubinsky and Staal. With next year (hopefully) being the next stage of the development from re-build to contender the Rangers will still need some veterans to fill out the roster, add depth and leadership and there is absolutely no reason to look past Prospal once more. Prospal is needed whether the likes of Chris Kreider are ready or not. There is no substitute for experience providing that experience still comes with production, and in Prospal you get still get both.
Prospal has an impressive 21 points in 27 games since missing the majority of the year through injury. Over a course of a season he’d be on around 63 point pace which is all star calibre at 36 years old. Prospal provides chemistry with whoever he’s paired with, provides positional flexibility either on the wing (or if needed, at center) and is both a power play and even strength threat. Simply put, at this stage Prospal is still a critical element of the Rangers offense. Only Ryan Callahan has been more prolific since both returned from their respective injuries.
Can Prospal be just as effective next season? Hopefully he wouldn’t need to be as much of a focal point but instead, more of a complimentary scorer and exhibit A of the Rangers depth. With the maturation of Stepan, Anisimov and another year of significance out of Callahan and Dubinsky (not to mention a hopeful return to form from Gaborik) Prospal could be the perfect cap bargain next season. You look at the best teams around the league, the successful teams, and they often have veterans contributing at the most important times of the year. Don’t forget that Prospal has significant playoff experience even if he was not with Tampa as they won the cup. It’s his experience coupled with his personality and ability that makes Prospal a must next year for the Rangers, regardless of the prospects on the horizon.