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 #5 Brandon Prust record the tournament’s first shutout over #12 Nik Antropov. Today’s matchup is #4 Sean Avery vs. #13 Petr Sykora:
Sean Avery (acquired – 2007 trade with LA, 2009 waivers)
No single player made more of an impact following a trade than Sean Avery. Acquired from the Kings for Jason Ward, Marc-Andre Cliche, Jan Marek, and a 2008 3rd round pick, Avery was brought in to give the vanilla Rangers some grit and attitude. He did more than that. In those first 29 games, Avery scored nine goals and added twelve assists. His first full season saw Avery become a true agitator, putting up 15-18-33 while drawing more than one full penalty for every one he took. During the playoffs, he single-handedly made the NHL change its rules when he took to unorthodox measures to screen Marty Brodeur.
Avery eventually signed with Dallas on a four-year deal, but that lasted about four months. After angering pretty much the entire locker room, Avery was banished from the franchise, where the Rangers agreed to allow him to play with Hartford, and claim him on re-entry waivers. This was a different Avery though, as the refs had honed in on him, and he was far less effective, drawing just 0.1 penalties more for every penalty he took. Avery eventually was waived and sent to the AHL, where he was eventually removed from the team after being less-than-professional. He is now “retired.”
Petr Sykora (acquired – 2006 trade with Anaheim)
The Rangers picked up Sykora and a 4th round pick from the then Mighty Ducks in exchange for Maxim Kondratiev (from the Leetch trade). Sykora played a half season with the Rangers, rounding out the scoring depth and helping the Rangers make the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Sykora played 40 games with the Blueshirts, putting up a line of 16-15-31, and showed great chemistry with the rest of the roster. The chemistry bit was unsurprising, as Sykora is Czech, and the entire roster at the time was Czech. It turned out to be a very good trade for the Rangers, as Kondratiev never made it to the NHL.
The Rangers decided not to re-sign Sykora, who went to Edmonton the following year. He played four full NHL seasons after his stint in New York, registering at least 20 goals in each of those.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Avery or Sykora? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Avery), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Sykora). Voting ends at midnight tonight.