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, #2 Martin Straka took out #7 Michal Rozsival. Today the second round continues with #1 Jaromir Jagr vs. #9 Mats Zuccarello.
Jaromir Jagr (acquired – 2004 trade with Washington)
The Rangers acquired Jagr in a trade with the Capitals that saw Anson Carter head over to Washington in exchange for Jagr and cash. The cash part being the Rangers paying just $4.94 million of Jagr’s $8 million salary, which was a huge boost in the salary cap era. As for Jagr himself, he set Ranger records for goals (54) and points (123) in a season in his first year on Broadway. He followed that up with a 96 point season (30-66) and a 71 point season (25-46) before departing for the KHL. In each of those three seasons, Jagr played all 82 games, which is something he had never done in his entire career.
In Jagr’s 3 post-lockout seasons, he put together a line of 109-201-310 in 246 games, clearly the highest three-year offensive output in a long time for the Rangers, if not ever (I really think this is the greatest three year offensive span in Ranger history. Please correct me if I’m wrong). Henrik Lundqvist may have been the reason why the Rangers were successful post-lockout, especially in those first few seasons, but Jaromir Jagr made them matter. He gave the fans a reason to care again.
Mats Zuccarello (acquired – 2010 unrestricted free agent)
The Rangers signed Zuccarello after an impressive showing at the Olympics and one of the top scorers in the SEL. Although many hoped he would be the next Martin St. Louis, Zuccarello needed some time to adapt to the speed of the NHL game. Zucc was wildly inconsistent in his first two seasons, putting up 6-17-23 (in 41 games) and 2-1-3 (in 10 games) respectively. After spending the lockout in the KHL, the Rangers re-signed Zuccarello for the final 15 games of the 2013 season. This is when Zuccarello finally showed what he was capable of.
This time around, Zuccarello was all over the place, and was a dominant puck possession player for the Rangers. He rounded out their forward depth, and chipped in with three goals and eight points to end the season. So far, Zuccarello has a line of 11-23-34 in 67 games with the Rangers. He has at least one more season on Broadway, as he re-upped this week.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Jagr or Zuccarello? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Jagr), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Zuccarello). Voting ends at midnight tonight.