As the offseason wears on, us and Matt Josephs of Blue Line Station (Twitter: 11Matt_Josephs8) will be running a tournament for the Best Ranger since the 2005 lockout. Yesterday we saw #7 Blair Betts take out #10 Marcel Hossa. Today’s matchup is #2 Brendan Shanahan vs. #15 Michael Sauer:
Brendan Shanahan (acquired – 2006 unrestricted free agent)
Shanahan might be ranked a little high, but that’s because he’s Brendan freaking Shanahan. Shanny only spent two years with the Rangers, but his signing was a big one for a team that was one errant Marek Malik pass away from taking the #1 seed to the brink of elimination in the Conference Semis. With Shanny on board, the Rangers finally had much needed scoring depth to take the pressure off the Straka-Nylander-Jagr connection. In Shanny’s two years, the Rangers made it to the second round of the playoffs each time, something Ranger fans had not seen since 1997.
In his two years, Shanny put together a line of 52-56-108 in 140 games, including 29-33-62 in 67 games his first season. Shanny may have been old when he was brought on, but he was still effective and a solid second line player. Shanny also scored his 600th career NHL goal during his first game as a Ranger.
Michael Sauer (acquired – 2005 draft, 2nd round)
Sauer holds a special place in Ranger fans hearts for two reasons. The first is that if not for this hit from Dion Phaneuf, Sauer might still be a player in the league, likely still with the Rangers. The second is that he was the last remaining piece of the Brian Leetch trade. Sauer was drafted using that 2005 2nd round pick that the Leafs gave up in that trade.
Sauer only played two years with the Rangers before having his career ended (probably) by Phaneuf, but he made a lasting impression with fans. Sauer played a hard hitting, physical game. His presence on the blue line reminded fans fondly of Jeff Beukeboom. He wasn’t going to score much (4-14-18 for his career), but he was going to stay back and punish you if you went near Henrik Lundqvist.
Sauer’s first full year with the Rangers was very good, in fact it may actually be under rated. Sauer played to a .190 Corsi Rel QoC, with a 5.0 RCorsi and 51.5% OZone starts. All told, he received what would be defined as two-way defenseman minutes (meaning he wasn’t getting sheltered minutes or shutdown minutes). It’s truly a shame that his career probably is over.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Shanahan or Sauer? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Shanahan), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Sauer). Voting ends at midnight tonight.