Brandon Prust is another example of Glen Sather’s recent ability to pull off trade theft. A throw in that became a core player and a great example of the black and blue, never say die Rangers identity. To cap it off, his last contract signed with the Rangers, a two year $800k/year deal, was a bargain thus further cementing Prust as a quality addition to the Rangers club.
With that said, there will be a market for Prust should he make free agency this summer and given his solid reputation as a fine bottom six player, excellent penalty killer and tough competitor with a little offense to his game, Prust will certainly have suitors outside of New York.
Prust therefore will have the opportunity to cash in should he choose to do so. The Rangers will likely have the opportunity to re-up him but may have to match or outbid other teams. Clubs such as the Leafs have been mentioned as a destination. What is a price that the Rangers would stop matching at? Can the Rangers replace Prust from within should he leave?
Losing Prust is more than losing just one player. It also means splitting up a highly effective tandem in Prust and Brian Boyle. It’s losing a part of an excellent penalty kill unit that would therefore undergo change (even more so if players such as Dubinsky move on too, a point worth considering).
The Rangers will want Prust back and in all honestly need him back. With John Mitchell likely gone (based on beat writer Andrew Gross’ assumption), Mats Zuccarello probably gone and Ruslan Fedotenko potentially being replaced as well, losing Prust would dramatically alter the bottom six forwards. Too much change isn’t a good thing when you already have a solid, contending roster.
What is a reasonable figure for Prust? Some initial speculation suggests Brian Boyle type money but that should be the absolute ceiling for Prust. Boyle has far greater potential than Prust even if Prust is the better physical player. With Mike Rupp already overpaid there shouldn’t be room for three players all potentially playing on the bottom line making close to $2m each annually.
A big problem for the Rangers and a temptation for Prust is that he can probably get as much as $2.5m/year in free agency. The hard working forward will have a decision to make about what is more important: a chance at a cup and a decent pay day or a big(ger) pay day and likely less success. The Rangers will also have a decision to make when the dollars need to be decided. How much do they want and how much do they need Brandon Prust back?