Vinny Prospal had a disappointing season only because his season was severely shortened by injury. He played just 29 games this season, although he was very productive in those games, putting together 23 points (9-14-23) in those 29 games. In the playoffs, he –along with the rest of the Rangers– pulled a bit of a disappearing act, and finished with just one goal in the five games series against the Caps.
Prospal’s greatest asset to the Rangers is that he has terrific chemistry with Marian Gaborik. When Prospal returned to the lineup in February, Gaborik went on his first real points streak of the year, and had two more streaks of at least three games following his return. Prospal is a leader in the locker room, and brings a passion to the ice that is very evident whenever he scores a goal.
Perhaps Prospal’s biggest weakness is his age and recent injury history. His knee injury was so severe that at one point, he didn’t know if he would be able to play again. Although he came back just fine, that’s still on everyone’s mind, and it’s not like he’s getting younger. Also working against Prospal –and what may wind up being the deciding factor in bringing him back– is something completely out of his control.
Since the current CBA expires after next season, there is no bonus cushion for the 2011-2012 season. The bonus cushion allowed for teams to exceed the cap in bonuses, and have any payouts applied to the following year’s cap. It’s the reason why the Blackhawks had to trade away half their roster after winning the Cup. This year, any bonuses granted will count directly against the cap this year. That single fact may keep Prospal from signing any deal in the NHL, let alone with the Rangers.
Prospal has been a great influence on the kids, and the promise of chemistry with Gaborik is always a plus. I would want him back for another year, as the locker room presence is much needed for a locker room that is so young. I wouldn’t bet on him returning though, and it will be sad to see Prospal go. I wouldn’t be shocked, however, to see Prospal back in camp on a PTO, assuming he doesn’t find a home for next season.