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, #3 Ryan McDonagh took out #6 Markus Naslund, and today the second round continues with #2 Brendan Shanahan vs. #7 Blair Betts.
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.
Blair Betts (acquired – 2004 trade with Flames)
Betts became a Ranger during the 2004 fire sale, when the Rangers sent Chris Simon and a 7th round pick to Calgary for Betts, Greg Moore, and Jaime McLennan. Betts made the team outright in 2005-2006, and was one of the more steady players in the Tom Renney regime. All told, Betts missed just 23 games over four seasons with the Rangers, playing solid fourth line minutes while being a key penalty killer. Not known for his offense, Betts put together a line of 25-15-40 over those four years (305 games). Betts’ Ranger career came to an end with this cheap shot from Donald Brashear in the 2009 playoffs. To add insult to injury, the Rangers signed Brashear to a two-year contract that offseason.
Betts was one of those guys who fit under the less-aggressive Tom Renney, but didn’t have the footspeed to stick with a John Tortorella club. It is worth noting that Betts didn’t get a pro contract from any team during the offseason, and had to earn his place with the Flyers on a PTO. However, the Rangers have yet to find a fourth line center that could eat minutes since Betts wasn’t re-signed.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Shanny or Betts? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Shanahan), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Betts). Voting ends at midnight tonight.