Contract talks aren’t going to be a distraction for Brandon Prust. Per Larry Brooks, the right winger is putting contract discussions on hold while the Rangers are still trying to lock up the Atlantic Division title. Prust is one of seven pending unrestricted free agents, but one that the Rangers will likely pursue and re-sign prior to July 1.
Since coming over from Calgary in 2010 as a part of the Olli Jokinen trade, Prust has been a pleasant surprise and an integral piece of the Rangers core, and has even chipped in offensively, with 55 points over the course of two and a third seasons with the Rangers (179 games). In addition to being a part of one of the Rangers top defensive lines, Prust is also heavily relied upon to kill penalties.
In NCAA news, also per Brooks in the same article, the Rangers might pursue Wisconsin Badgers defenseman Justin Schultz. The talk on Schultz may be a bit premature though. Schultz was Anaheim’s second round pick in 2008 (43rd overall), but has yet to sign with the Ducks. If Schultz does not sign by July 1, he will be a free agent.
Schultz, drafted out of the BCHL, joined Wisconsin in 2009, and was teammates with both Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. Following McDonagh’s departure, Schultz was relied upon as a top defenseman, and answered the call. In his last two seasons, the 6’1 185-lb defenseman has averaged more than a point per game from the blue line, with a line of 34-57-91 in 78 games.
This situation is similar to the Tim Erixon situation, but not identical. Since Schultz went to play in the NCAA, the drafting organization needs to have the player signed by July 1 following his senior year. In Erixon’s case, he did not play in the NCAA, thus he needed to be signed before July 1 two years after his draft year. Similar, but different.