The 5 Most Impressive Scoring Seasons in New York Rangers History

Andrew Capitelli@@acapitelliContributor IApril 9, 2014

The 5 Most Impressive Scoring Seasons in New York Rangers History

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    Despite not having a single 60-point scorer (yet) this season, the New York Rangers have had some very impressive single-season scorers throughout their history.

    Sure, Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky in his prime never skated for New York, but looking back, the Rangers had some maestros of their own.

    We’ve selected the five-best overall scoring performances by a single player—or multiple players—in Rangers history, and highlighted and ranked them.

    Have a look for yourself after the jump.

Bill Cook and Frank Boucher, 1929-30

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    Associated Press

    Nearly 90 years of NHL hockey in the books for the Rangers, and yet on only three different occasions has a Blueshirt led the league in points.

    And Bill Cook has done it twice.

    The first occasion was the during the Rangers’ inaugural season, when just 37 points (44 games) were enough for Cook to be named scoring champ.

    The right winger was again the class of NHL scoring in 1932-33 when he compiled 50 points in 48 games.

    Interestingly enough, 1932-33 was not Cook’s best season with New York. In 1929-30, Cook, alongside centerman Frank Boucher, registered 59 and 62 points, respectively; good enough for fourth and second in league scoring.

    It was the highest total either player would compile in their respective NHL careers.

Brian Leetch, 1988-89

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    Ron Frehm

    Brian Leetch is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest player in franchise history, and it was evident quite early on in his career that he would be a stud.

    It took all of one full season, actually. In 1988-89 Leetch dressed in 68 games for the Rangers after appearing in 17 the year before, thereby preserving his rookie status the following season.

    In those 68 games, Leetch registered 23 goals and 48 assists for 71 points. To this day, it’s the second-highest point total by a rookie defenseman, topped only by Larry Murphy, who scored 76 points in 1980-81.

    Naturally, Leetch was elected Rookie of the Year and was awarded the Calder Trophy. He became the eighth Ranger to don the honor and is the last Blueshirt to win it since.

Brian Leetch and Mark Messier, 1991-92

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    Ron Frehm

    Mark Messier was brought to New York in the summer of 1991 to do one thing: Win the Stanley Cup.

    And the acquisition almost brought immediate results. In the 1991-92 season, Messier—along with Brian Leetch—simply tore it up.

    Messier compiled the second-highest point total of his career, registering 107 points (fifth in league scoring), while Leetch set a career-high with 102 points (ninth in league scoring).

    Leetch became just the fifth defenseman in the history of the NHL to score over 100 points in a single season (Bobby Orr 6x, Paul Coffey 5x, Al MacInnis, Denis Potvin) and also received the first Norris Trophy of his career for most outstanding defenseman. The Corpus Christi, Texas, native would again take home the honor in 1996-97.

    Messier would win his second Hart Trophy in three seasons as league MVP after helping the Rangers win their first Presidents' Trophy, awarded to the regular-season champion.

    New York, unfortunately, would fall to the eventual Stanley Cup champion, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the second round of the playoffs.

Jaromir Jagr, 2005-06

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    After essentially being pushed out of Washington in 2003-04, Jaromir Jagr returned to the NHL following the 2004-05 lockout with something to prove.

    The Rangers, too, were looking to reshape their image, after missing out on the playoffs in the previous seven seasons.

    General manager Glen Sather did all he could to surround Jagr with familiar faces and countrymen. Michael Nylander and Marty Straka were brought in to play alongside the five-time scoring champion, and a total of seven Czech players in total graced the Blueshirts roster.

    As a result, Jagr would compile the third-highest point (123) and assist (69) totals, and second-highest goal (54) total of his illustrious career. All three marks also set Rangers single-season records.

    All season long Jagr appeared the favorite for the Hart, Art Ross and Maurice Richard Trophies, but a mid-season trade between the San Jose Sharks and the Boston Bruins derailed all of Jagr’s hopes.

    Joe Thornton was shipped out west and instantly found chemistry with winger Jonathan Cheechoo. In 58 games with San Jose, Thornton tallied 20 goals, 72 assist for 92 points (overall season total of 125), while Cheechoo compiled a season total of 56 goals.

    Thornton would be awarded the Hart and Art Ross Trophies while Cheechoo took home the Maurice Richard.

    Jagr was rewarded for carrying the Rangers to their first playoff appearance in nearly a decade with the Lester B. Pearson award as players’ MVP, though.

The GAG Line, 1971-72

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    Vic Hadfield
    Vic HadfieldDenis Brodeur/Getty Images

    Without question, the GAG Line, along with the Bread Line of the '20s and '30s, are the best lines assembled in Rangers history.

    Jean Ratelle, Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert were branded the GAG Line because they were known for scoring what felt like at least one goal per game. Their best overall season came in 1971-72.

    Ratelle led the way with 109 points, which set a Rangers record, after he registered 46 goals and 63 assists. Hadfield also set a Rangers record with 50 goals and added an additional 56 assists for a grand total of 106 points. Gilbert—considered by some to be the greatest player in the franchise’s history—rounded out the trio with 43 goals, 54 assists and 97 points, which were all career highs, save for the assists.

    The three finished third, fourth and fifth in league scoring, behind just Phil Esposito (133 points) and Bobby Orr (117 points). Furthermore, Ratelle took home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship, as well as the Lester B. Pearson Award, given to the NHLPA’s MVP.

    The Rangers, as a whole, finished the regular season in second place behind the Boston Bruins, whom they would eventually lose to in six games in the Stanley Cup Final.