Ranking the 5 Best American Players in New York Rangers History

Jeremy Fuchs@@jaf78Correspondent IIIFebruary 12, 2014

Ranking the 5 Best American Players in New York Rangers History

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    The New York Rangers have three Americans set to play for Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

    Because of that, it's a good time to look back and rank the five best American players to ever play for the Rangers.

    We'll look at their career with the Rangers, as well as their importance to the development of U.S. hockey.

    Who are the best Americans to lace up the skates for the Rangers in their illustrious history? 

    Read on to find out. 

Honorable Mention: Tony Amonte

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    If Tony Amonte played longer with the Rangers, he would be in the Top Five.

    However, he was traded away after 234 games, in which he scored 84 goals.

    That trade did work out quite well for the Rangers. In return for Amonte, the Rangers received Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan.

    After the Rangers, Amonte went on to score 332 goals with four teams. He also represented the U.S. nationally five times as a pro, winning a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics. 

    He's one of the best American forwards of all time and would be higher on this list if he played more games with the Rangers. 

5. Chris Drury

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    Chris Drury had a decorated career, both in the NHL and internationally, and established himself as one of the best Americans to ever play.

    He scored 255 goals and 360 assists in his career, while quickly developing a reputation as one of the most clutch players to ever play the game. 

    With the Rangers, Drury scored 62 goals, although he was clearly deteriorating physically in the last few years.

    He was still an exemplary captain for the Rangers, a fine penalty-killer and defensive pivot and a terrific ambassador for U.S. Hockey. 

    He was certainly in the twilight of his career with the Rangers, but he was still effective enough to be on this list. 

4. Ryan McDonagh

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    Yes, he's just 24-years-old, with only 228 games played in a Ranger uniform. 

    But based on that admittedly small sample size, Ryan McDonagh has established himself as not only the best defenseman on the roster right now, but one of the best Americans to play on the Rangers in some time.

    McDonagh averages nearly 25 minutes a game and will likely average that, or even more, in Sochi.

    He's an incredible skater who plays with nearly perfect positioning. 

    Yes, it's early in his career. But given what we've seen, it's safe to say that McDonagh is going to be a Norris Trophy candidate for a number years. He's already established himself as one of the best young defenseman in the league, and the Sochi Games will be his coming out party.

    The future is bright for McDonagh, and the Rangers are lucky that they have him. 

3. Ryan Callahan

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    Ryan Callahan will represent the Americans for the second time when the games begin in Sochi.

    Not only is he one of the best American players in the game, but Callahan has created an identity as a selfless, fearless leader who will do anything to win.

    In his Rangers career, Callahan has scored 132 goals and added 121 assists.

    He's the ultimate penalty-killer, incredible at blocking shots, sometimes to his own detriment.

    But his energy is relentless, his determination is unmatched, and his skill is tremendous.

    It remains to be seen whether Callahan will be a Ranger next season. Regardless of where he's playing, though, there is no doubt that Callahan's tenure with the Rangers has been a remarkable one, and he has clearly established himself as one of the top Americans in the game right now. 

2. Mike Richter

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    Mike Richter is one of the best goalies in American history.

    The Pennsylvania native recorded 301 wins, with a 2.89 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. He is the team leader in career wins. 

    He, of course, was remarkable on the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup in 1994, posting 16 wins, a 2.07 GAA and a .921 save percentage. 

    Richter was fiercely competitive, making the biggest saves at the biggest moments. 

    If you needed a goalie to win a big game, you would likely choose Richter.

    He's enshrined in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and won a gold medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics. 

1. Brian Leetch

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    Brian Leetch is not only the best American to ever play on the Rangers—he's one of the best Americans, period.

    In his illustrious career, Leetch scored 247 goals and added 781 assists. He's second in team history in games played, ninth in goals scored, first in assists and second in points.

    Leetch is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He won the Calder Trophy in 1989, the Conn Smythe in 1994, and he's a two-time Norris Trophy winner. 

    He was the prototypical offensive defenseman, an absolute genius on the rush. If he played forward, he would be pretty darn good at it.

    Leetch is one of the best American players in hockey history and a Rangers legend.