That’s not really a fair title to Derek Dorsett, who could surely care less what Brandon Prust did in New York before Dorsett’s arrival. But fair or not, “Brandon Prust 2.0” is how Dorsett was billed when he arrived in the Marian Gaborik blockbuster last spring, so Prust is the player Dorsett will forever be compared to in the eyes of Rangers fans.
Prust’s game has changed a bit over the last two seasons due to injuries, but at his best with the Rangers he was relentless on the forecheck, a willing combatant, a reliable penalty killer and one of New York’s most important energy guys.
Dorsett has settled in nicely this year and has filled an almost identical role. Like Prust, Dorsett has been a terrific forechecker, a dependable penalty killer, and a trusted player in his own end (just 38% of his shifts have started in the attack zone). And if fighting is your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that Dorsett has five majors this season, second in the league. Perhaps the greatest difference between the two is in the energy jolt they deliver to the lineup. This is an extremely subjective observation, but it seems that even though Dorsett goes all out every night, he hasn’t yet displayed the same penchant for shaking his team awake that Prust once did.
But aside from that opinion, the two players measure up very similarly, and if Dorsett is still viewed as a downgrade from Prust, it’s because of bias and nothing else. Normally this is where we’d put the two players’ statistics side by side, but Prust’s injury has resulted in too small a sample size to fairly analyze this season.
Fans were understandably pained when Prust exited as a free agent two summers ago, but the Rangers made the right decision by walking away once he received a four-year, $10 million offer from the Canadiens. It took some time, but GM Glen Sather found a very similar player who’s two years younger, much healthier and nearly $1 million cheaper annually.