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, #1 Jaromir Jagr took out #9 Mats Zuccarello. Today the second round continues with #5 Brandon Prust vs. #13 Petr Sykora, who shocked a lot of people when he beat #4 Sean Avery in the previous round.
Just a note: Following today’s post, I will be on vacation. The tournament posts will still go up, but I had to schedule them in advance, so the winners of the previous matchups won’t be posted in the picture until I get back next week. I am still keeping track though.
Brandon Prust (acquired – 2010 trade with Calgary)
Brandon Prust was initially the throw-in with Olli Jokinen that the Rangers acquired for Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik. However, he won over the hearts of Rangers fans everywhere with his blue collar play, hustle, work ethic, and his willingness to drop the gloves on a regular basis. His first full season with the Rangers was Prust’s best of his career, putting up a line of 13-16-29 while playing on the third line with Brian Boyle and Ruslan Fedotenko. This line started just 40% of their shifts in the offensive zone, making it difficult for Prust to even hit these kind of numbers. His second and final full year with the Rangers had less offense, but more of a defensive role as Torts line-matched the trio often.
All told, Prust’s contributions to the Rangers are measured off the stat page. His 22-33-55 line in 190 games doesn’t touch on the way he sparked the team on the ice. The Rangers –rightfully– let him walk after Montreal offered him a four-year deal worth $2.5 million annually.
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, Prust or Sykora? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Prust), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Sykora). Voting ends at midnight tonight.