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’s matchup is #2 Martin Straka vs #3 Marian Gaborik, with the winner taking on #1 Ryan Callahan in the John Tortorella bracket finals.
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.
Marian Gaborik (acquired – 2009 unrestricted free agent)
Following the Scott Gomez trade, the Rangers targeting the best scorer on the 2009 free agent market, landing Marian Gaborik to a five year contract worth $7.5 million annually. That first season, Gaborik came as advertised, putting up 42-44-86 while playing 76 games. The second year, Gaborik also came as advertised, as he suffered an injury and his on-ice performance suffered to the tune of 22-26-48 in 62 games. Following a rebound year in 2011-2012 (41-35-76 in 82 games), Gaborik really struggled in the lockout year (following offseason shoulder surgery), putting up just 9-10-19 in 35 games before getting shipped to Columbus.
The gripe most fans have with Gaborik is that he wasn’t consistent, but I don’t think that’s fair. In 3.5 seasons, Gaborik had a pair of 40-goal years, and he played with a pretty bad shoulder in the 2012 playoff run. It’s tough to ask more of Gaborik, who put up 114-115-229 in 255 games. He fulfilled his role as top-line scorer.
In need of depth, the Rangers sent Gaborik to the Blue Jackets (with a pair of AHLers) for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, and a 2014 6th round pick. The trade got the Rangers to the playoffs, but most will remember Gaborik not for his 40-goal years, but for his struggles coming out of lockout #3.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Straka or Gaborik? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Straka), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Gaborik). Voting ends at midnight tonight.