Markus Naslund barely avoided the upset yesterday.
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 #6 Markus Naslund squeak by #11 Colton Orr. Today’s matchup is #3 Ryan McDonagh vs. #14 Mike Rupp:
Ryan McDonagh (acquired – 2009 trade with Canadiens)
On June 30, 2009, Glen Sather shocked the world when he completed the now infamous Scott Gomez trade. Gomez, along with Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto, was shipped to Montreal in exchange for Chris Higgins, Doug Janik, unknown prospect Pavel Valentenko, and former first round pick Ryan McDonagh. After signing his ELC in 2010, McDonagh got his first call up in January of that season, and played the remaining 40 games with the Rangers. In that short stint, McDonagh proved he could be relied upon as a top-four defenseman.
The following season, McDonagh forced his way on to the top pairing by playing big minutes against the opposition’s best players. When Marc Staal went down with his injury(ies), it was McDonagh that lessened that blow. As he starts adding offense to his game (7-25-32 in his second season, 4-15-19 in the lockout season), it appears his potential is limitless. He is the #1 defenseman on a team privileged to have three top-pairing defensemen, and five top-four defensemen.
Mike Rupp (acquired – 2011 unrestricted free agent)
Rupp is one of those under appreciated players on a roster. He isn’t flashy, he doesn’t score goals, he doesn’t even fight as much as you think (zero seasons, that’s right, zero, with over 140 PIMs). What he brings is solid fourth line play, leadership, and a willingness to do the dirty work in the corners. When Rupp came to New York on his three-year deal, people were upset because it was “bringing in another overpaid fighter.” Overpaying is an unavoidable reality of free agency, but the Rangers weren’t bringing in a fighter. They were bringing in a fourth line player that they thought Torts would be able to rely on.
While part of that is true, Torts did lean on Rupp in the locker room, Torts simply couldn’t rely on Rupp on the ice. It wasn’t a slight against Rupp, it’s why players like Taylor Pyatt struggled under Torts as well. Simply put, Rupp’s skating was not up to snuff for an aggressive system like Torts’. Torts required players be able to skate and get in on the forecheck. That is where Rupp was exploited, and that is likely why Rupp barely saw more than five minutes per game.
In the end, Rupp was shipped to Minnesota for Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri. The trade freed up $500k in cap space for the Rangers.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, McDonagh or Rupp? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (McDonagh), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Rupp). Voting ends at midnight tonight.