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 we saw #3 Michael Nylander beat #14 Jason Strudwick. Today’s matchup is #7 Brian Boyle vs. #10 Nik Zherdev.
Brian Boyle (acquired – 2009 trade with LA)
When the Rangers acquired then-RFA Brian Boyle for a third round pick in the 2010 draft (Jordan Weal), most thought this was a bad trade and a terrible overpayment just so we could have “our own 2003 1st round pick.” Boyle was used in a bottom-six capacity and really thrived in that role with the Rangers, with both Tom Renney and John Tortorella. His 21-goal season may have been a blip and he’s more likely to be in the 5-10 goal, 10-20 point range. That said, he’s one of the top defensive forwards in the game, and he is someone that AV will rely on heavily for defensive zone draws.
Over his four seasons in New York, Boyle has a scoring line of 38-34-72 while missing just 21 games over those four seasons. As a fourth line center (note: I believe he’s misused as a third line center, something that AV will likely rectify), there are very few that hold a candle to the effectiveness of Boyle.
Nik Zherdev (acquired – 2008 trade with Columbus)
When the Rangers sent Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to Columbus for Zherdev and Dan Fritsche, many were on the fence about it. Zherdev was one of the top talents in the game, but a noted head case. Meanwhile, Tyutin had solidified himself as a solid defenseman, but the Rangers had eight defensemen (Rozsival, Redden, Staal, Girardi, Mara, Kalinin, Tyutin, Backman), and had room to spare. It was a classic case of dealing from a strength to address a weakness, since the Rangers were losing Straka and Jagr that offseason. Regardless, the trade didn’t work out in the long term for the Rangers, as Zherdev played just one season in New York (23-35-58).
The Rangers walked away from Zherdev’s arbitration reward, and he played just one more year in the NHL before staying in the KHL permanently. Meanwhile, Tyutin has been a top-four defenseman for the Blue Jackets.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Boyle or Zherdev? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Boyle), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Zherdev). Voting ends at midnight tonight.