There is no shortage of question marks for Glen Sather and the rest of the New York Ranger brass entering the off-season. How strong should they pursue Brad Richards? What to do with players like Chris Drury, Wojtek Wolski and Sean Avery who have high-priced contract with low-return value? How big should the raises to Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan be following two career-years.
Another is what to do about Vinny Prospal? Since coming to the Rangers prior to the 2009-10 season following a buyout from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Prospal has been a big part of the Rangers’ “success.” He’s had a series of injuries, but when healthy, Prospal still brings something to the dance. But is it enough to warrant another contract, more money and- more importantly- a roster spot.
Injuries have hurt Prospal, beginning in 2009-10, when he injured his knee the first time during his Rangers tenure. When he returned, he looked half-step slower and couldn’t find his early-season chemistry with sniper Marian Gaborik. None-the-less, he finished with 20 goals and 58 points.
After receiving a new one-year contract (something I was against), Prospal was again sidelined with knee problems, this time limiting him to just 29 games in 2010-11. He finished the season with nine goals and 23 points before breaking down in the playoffs.
There just isn’t enough left for another go-around with Prospal for 2011-12. At 36-years-old, Prospal isn’t getting younger, and he’s shown you can’t expect 75-plus games out of him.
The mantra of the Rangers has changed with the NHL as a whole. Teams win in today’s league by drafting well, having their picks cultivate and finally inserting them into the lineup. Coach John Tortorella has preached a youth-movement since becoming Rangers coach in Feb. 2009, spelling trouble for Prospal.
“Very inconsistent and he readily admits that,” said Tortorella to Rangers Report. “He played really well at times and really struggled. He was very inconsistent.” Doesn’t sound like Tortorella has Prospal in his plans for next year.
Prospal does bring a leadership quality that has been suspect for the Rangers. He has a knack for scoring timely goals, including saving the team’s season April 4 against the Boston Bruins when he scored two goals in a 5-3 come-from-behind victory. Prospal has the energy and optimism of a rookie, and Ranger fans would agree nothing brings a smile to their face quicker than watching Prospal celebrate a goal with teammates.
There are positives for Prospal, but they’re out-weighed by negatives. This team is shifting towards youth, and having a 36-year-old with poor knees returning to a top scoring-line is a step-backwards for the organization.
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