Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 2, Dan Girardi (2) vs. Brad Richards (7)

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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. Today the second round continues with #2 Dan Girardi vs. #7 Brad Richards.

Just a note: I am on vacation. The tournament posts are still going 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.

Dan Girardi (acquired – 2006 undrafted free agent)

Girardi is this team’s version of a Cinderella story. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of the OHL’s Guelph Storm (and Ryan Callahan’s teammate), Girardi was never a noted scorer, which is why he was never noticed. But the Rangers noticed him (presumably) while scouting Cally, and signed him to an AHL deal in the summer of 2005. They didn’t sign him to an NHL contract until 2006 after impressing in the ECHL and AHL. After his deal, he played another 45 games in the AHL before sticking with the big club permanently.

Over the next six seasons, Girardi missed a total of just four (!!) games. When you take into account the minutes (sometimes up to 30) he plays and the number of shots he blocks, that’s an impressive feat. Girardi isn’t a noted scorer (31-123-154 in his career), but he’s one of the best shutdown defensemen in the game today. Girardi has been the steady rock on defense, and players such as Fedor Tyutin, Marc Staal, and Ryan McDonagh have flourished while playing with him. Girardi was given the ‘A’ when Staal went down with his injuries, and it’s no mystery as to why.

Brad Richards (acquired – 2011 unrestricted free agent)

Richards came on board with the Rangers in July of 2011, signing a nine-year back-loaded deal that many assumed would not be worth it towards the end of the contract. His first year wasn’t bad, putting up 25 goals and 66 points, but his second season was an unmitigated disaster. Clearly unprepared for the lockout shortened season, Richards looked slow, sluggish, and lost. That said, his point totals weren’t exactly terrible, putting up 11-23-34 in 44 games. In his first two seasons, Richards has a line of 36-64-100 in 128 games. That’s not exactly horrible.

Richards was the subject of many buyout rumors this summer, but the Rangers decided to keep him around. Even in this market, a 65 point center is tough to find for $6.6 million.

So who do you think is the better Ranger, Girardi or Richards? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Girardi), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Richards). Voting ends at midnight tonight.

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