Category: Offseason

Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 2, Derek Stepan (4) vs. Vinny Prospal (5)

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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 #4 Derek Stepan vs. #5 Vinny Prospal.

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.

Derek Stepan (acquired – 2008 draft, 2nd round)

Stepan emerged as the Rangers top center this past season, scoring at almost a point per game in the lockout shortened season. His 18-26-44 line led the team in scoring, which says a lot considering this was a roster with Rick Nash. He was the team leader in assists, points, and was second to Nash in goals. His NHL totals in three years are pretty solid at 56-84-140 in 212 games. For those keeping track, 212 games is three full seasons without missing a single game.

Stepan is currently unsigned (at the writing of this post on Saturday), but there will be a deal in place before the season starts.

Vinny Prospal (acquired – 2009 unrestricted free agent)

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Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 2, Marc Staal (1) vs. Chris Drury (8)

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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 #1 Marc Staal vs. #8 Chris Drury.

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.

Marc Staal (acquired – 2005 draft, 1st round)

The Rangers traded up in the 2005 draft, surrendering their 1st round pick (#16 – Alex Bourret) and 2nd round pick (#41 – Ondrej Pavelec) to Atlanta for the #12 pick, which they used on Staal. Staal broke in with the Rangers during his first professional season, and by his second season had proved himself worthy of top-pairing minutes. Not a noted scorer, Staal has primarily been a shutdown defenseman, putting up 24-73-97 in 388 games. Staal played almost every game of the season for his first three years, before a concussion sidelined him for the majority of the 2011-2012 season. A freak eye injury sidelined him for half of the 2013 season as well.

When healthy, Staal is a top-two defenseman on a team that is competing for a Stanley Cup. When 75%, he’s still a top-four defenseman.

Chris Drury (acquired – 2007 unrestricted free agent)

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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)

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Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 2, Rick Nash (3) vs. Petr Prucha (6)

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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 #3 Rick Nash vs. #6 Petr Prucha.

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.

Rick Nash (acquired – 2012 trade with Columbus)

Nash came to the Rangers in an offseason blockbuster that sent Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a 2013 1st round pick (Kerby Rychel) to the Blue Jackets for Nash, Steven Delisle, and a 2013 3rd round pick (Pavel Buchnevich). Nash was everything that was advertised for the Rangers, putting up 21 goals and 42 points in 44 games. Over an 82-game season, that averages out to about 40 goals and 80 points. Nash is the game breaker that the Rangers have needed desperately. With Nash, they have someone who can draw the opposition’s top defenders and still come out with a dominant shift.

It is necessary to point out that with Nash, the Rangers were expected to be a dominant offensive force. However, the struggles of Gaborik and Richards threw a wrench into that, leading to Gaborik’s trade for key depth players. None of that is on Nash, who performed in a manner that we expected.

Petr Prucha (acquired – 2002 draft, 8th round)

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Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 2, Brandon Prust (5) vs. Petr Sykora (13)

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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. 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)

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Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 2, Jaromir Jagr (1) vs. Mats Zuccarello (9)

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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. 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)

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Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 2, Martin Straka (2) vs. Michal Rozsival (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. 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)

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Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 1, Marian Gaborik (3) vs. Fedor Tyutin (6)

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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. Yesterday, #4 Carl Hagelin routed #12 Chris Kreider. Today the second round continues with #3 Marian Gaborik vs. #6 Fedor Tyutin.

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.

Fedor Tyutin (acquired – 2001 draft, 2nd round)

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Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 1, Carl Hagelin (4) vs. Chris Kreider (12)

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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. Yesterday, #1 Ryan Callahan bested #8 Ruslan Fedotenko. Today the second round continues with #4 Carl Hagelin vs. #12 Chris Kreider. Kreider upset #5 Jed Ortmeyer in the previous round.

Carl Hagelin (acquired – 2007 draft, 6th round)

Carl Hagelin is the latest of late-round steals by the Rangers. Drafted prior to his freshman year at Michigan, Hagelin was a project pick. He was expected to spend four years at Michigan, and did just that. When the Rangers signed Hagelin, he became the second Wolverines captain to come to the Rangers in a five-year span (Jed Ortmeyer). Many projected he would make the big club out of camp, but Hagelin spent the first two months of the season in Connecticut before his first call up. The puck possession monster put up a line of 14-24-38 in the remaining 64 games that season, and was one of the major turning points of the season for the Rangers.

With all that speed and skill, Hagelin is a bit inconsistent. He shows flashes, but he needs to harness that on a regular basis in order to be a top-flight top-six forward. Right now he is one of the best puck possession forwards in the NHL who will contribute 15-20 goals and 40 or so points. That output puts him at the cusp of the top-six, or one of the best third liners in hockey. Throw in his superb defensive and penalty killing ability, and Hagelin’s value to this club will only go up.

Chris Kreider (acquired – 2009 draft, first round)

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Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 1, Ryan Callahan (1) vs. Ruslan Fedotenko (8)

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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. Yesterday, #2 Brendan Shanahan took out #7 in a surprising blowout. Today the second round continues with #1 Ryan Callahan vs. #8 Ruslan Fedotenko.

Ryan Callahan (acquired – 2004 draft, 4th round)

The Rangers actually acquired the draft pick used to select Cally from San Jose in exchange for the negotiating rights to Mark Messier. It’s funny how the Rangers traded the rights to their captain, and used that draft pick to draft a future captain. Cally saw his first NHL action in 2006-2007, playing 14 games with the Rangers. He played 52 games with the club the following season, which included an 11 game stint in Hartford. After that Cally stuck with the club and has been an all-round beast for the Rangers since. In his full Ranger career to date, Cally has put together a line of 121-108-229 in 405 games, and has slowly climbed from averaging 40 points per season to averaging close to 60 points over a full season. Cally has been the captain of the team since 2011, and was an alternate captain from 2009.

There’s not much else to say about Cally. We all know who he is and what he means to this team.

Ruslan Fedotenko (acquired – 2010 PTO/unrestricted free agency)

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