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 Marian Gaborik took out #6 Fedor Tyutin. Today the second round continues with #2 Martin Straka vs. #7 Michal Rozsival.
Martin Straka (acquired – 2005 unrestricted free agent)
Many laughed when the Rangers signed Straka after the lockout, thinking that this lowly addition couldn’t possibly help the Rangers at all. Instead, Straka clicked with Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander to the tune of 76 points (22-54-76) in his first season. Straka’s contributions helped the Rangers secure their first playoff spot in eight years. Straka played two additional seasons with the Rangers, finishing his NHL career in New York. Overall, he played 224 games with the club, putting together a line of 65-122-187, which is pretty solid.
Straka’s three years in New York were the last three of his NHL career. He returned home to the Czech Republic after the 2007-2008 season.
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.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Straka or Rozsival? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Straka), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Rozsival). Voting ends at midnight tonight.