Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 1, Michal Rozsival (7) vs. Matt Cullen (10)July 29, 2013, by
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 #3 Marian Gaborik take out #14 Matt Gilroy. Today’s matchup is #7 Michal Rozsival vs. #10 Matt Cullen:
Michal Rozsival (acquired – 2005 unrestricted free agent)
No single Ranger –except for Michael Del Zotto– divides the Rangers fan base more than Rozsival. Signed away from the Pittsburgh Penguins after the lockout, Rozsival was a key piece for the Tom Renney version of the Rangers. Rozsival played top minutes, and had to deal with the lead-footed Marek Malik as his partner for a good amount of time. Rozsival’s first three seasons in New York were a tremendous success, putting together a line of 28-80-108 in 242 games. Rozsival was everything the Rangers could have asked for in those three seasons. After the 2008 season, the Rangers signed him to a four year deal worth $5 million a year, and that’s where the division in the fan base occurred.
Once Renney was fired, Rozsival saw a big drop in his game. He simply didn’t fit in Tortorella’s aggressive style, which isn’t a slight against him by any means. He was still a useful defenseman for New York, but his $5 million became a problem when he was on the bottom pairing. Rozsival played another 190 games under 2.5 seasons of Tortorella and a half season of Renney, where he went 14-56-70 and saw his role diminished. His overall line in 432 games with the Rangers was 42-136-178. Not too shabby.
Matt Cullen (acquired – 2006 unrestricted free agent)
Cullen was brought on by Slats before the 2006-2007 season in hopes of being the #2 center the Rangers needed behind Michael Nylander. Cullen was fresh off a 25-goal, 49-point campaign with Carolina that culminated in a Stanley Cup. Signed to a two-year deal, Cullen spent just a single season with the Rangers, going 16-25-41 over 80 games and never really showing he could be the #2 center the Rangers hoped he could be. Perhaps it was just a bad fit. Makes you wonder how Cullen –a fast skater who plays aggressively– would have fared in a more aggressive system.
The Rangers sent Cullen back to Carolina after one year in exchange for Andrew Hutchinson, Joe Barnes, and a 2008 3rd round pick that they used on Evgeny Grachev. Both Hutchinson and Barnes are out of hockey, but the Rangers sent Grachev to St. Louis for a third round pick that wound up being Steven Fogarty.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Rozsival or Cullen? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Rozsival), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Cullen). Voting ends at midnight tonight."Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 1, Michal Rozsival (7) vs. Matt Cullen (10)",