NHL Free Agency: 5 Reasons Not Signing Vinny Prospal Hurts the New York Rangers
Vinny Prospal signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 1 year deal worth $1.75 million on Saturday. In my opinion this is one of the steals of free agency and if Columbus goes on to have a successful season, Prospal will be one of the reasons.
Having said that, Prospal cannot carry a team anymore at 36 years old. What he can do is provide good passing and an enthusiasm for the game that will spark any team. Prospal is coming off of knee surgery that cost him almost all of last season with the Rangers.
I am a big Vinny Prospal fan. When he came to the Rangers two years ago, I did not know a lot about him. I knew he was from Eastern Europe and after being bought out by the Lightning, I figured that he wasn't into the game of hockey like his teammates were and he was just collecting checks. Boy was I wrong. His work ethic and visible emotion makes him easy to like.
Prospal will be missed by the Rangers this season. I think this was a big mistake by Glen Sather, who I praised in another one of my articles.
So let's go over the 5 reasons the Rangers will miss Vinny Prospal
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In 2009-2010, Marian Gaborik scored 42 goals. Who was his line-mate for most of the year? Vinny Prospal.
Vinny Prospal missed most of the 2010-2011 season. Marian Gaborik scored 22 goals.
Vinny Prospal played for the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2001-2003. Brad Richards played for the Lightning at the same time.
Who is Marian Gaborik's new line-mate for this year? Brad Richards.
Wouldn't it have made sense to keep a player who was familiar with both of them? It's so simple, almost too simple for Glen the Savior.
There are going to be growing pains for Gaborik and Richards, so why not ease them with someone who has played with them both, especially since Gaborik thrived with Prospal on his line.
This was so clear to me, obviously not to the Savior.
2. Who Else Is Going to Play Left Wing?
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One glaring need for the Rangers is a capable left winger to play on the 1st line with Gaborik and Richards.
Let's look at the candidates:
Wolski-very inconsistent. It has been reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post that the Rangers may buy him out in a 48 hour window after the last arbitration case with Ryan Callahan. This would save the Rangers close to $3.5 million in cap room. Wolski is probably the best candidate but who knows with this guy.
Dubinsky- I don't want to move him from a line with Callahan.
Stepan- I had a reader, Zach Vanderberg, suggest moving Stepan to left wing. I am not a fan of this, I just feel the kid is too young to give up on him at center, and plugging a hole for this year while having bigger plans for him at center. He's too young to toy with him.
Prospal made the most sense to me to fill this need. As I mentioned before, he has familiarity with both Gaborik and Richards and is a good passer and has an underrated shot. He can put pucks in the net and set them up. It boggles my mind.
3. Emotion and Mentoring
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Vinny Prospal is one of the most emotional hockey players I have ever seen. Every shift he gives 110% and when the team succeeds he looks like the happiest guy on the planet. What a great mentor for a young team.
In the 3rd to last game of the season, the Rangers were losing 3-0 to the Bruins at home in the 2nd period. The crowd was booing the team and Prospal responded by scoring the next two goals. The Rangers won that game 5-3 and that was one of the best games of the year. Prospal got the team going.
The NHL season is such a long stretch, especially for the younger players who may not be used to playing so many games. Stepan was clearly tired by the end of the season and with Erixon and McDonagh and maybe Hagelin going to experience that for the first time this season, a guy like Prospal who could evoke some emotion at the age of 36 would inspire the boys.
I always saw Prospal as a great leader, and the team saw it as well as he was named an alternate captain in his first season with the Rangers. His mentoring and emotion will be missed.
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The Rangers have one more RFA to sign and that is Ryan Callahan. The Rangers have $5 million of cap space left and Callahan will probably take up $4 million of that if not a little more. If the Rangers buy out Wolski then, that opens up $3.5 million of cap room.
Ok so you don't want to go that route, Wolski is a nice player with only 1 year left on his deal let's keep him. Was it really necessary to sign Ruslan Fedotenko to a 1 year deal worth $1.4 million? He is easily replaceable by one of the younger kids who could eat up 10-15 minutes in a game.
Fedotenko doesn't help on the power play, Prospal did.
So now the financials would be close to the cap, but it could definitely work.
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In 109 games as a Ranger (regular season and playoffs), he had 82 points. He was just coming off of knee surgery last year and had 23 points in 29 games and 1 goal in the playoffs. So he's good for 40 points a year.
This guy is not some throwaway player the Rangers had. He is a real talent who helped them immensely in his time last year and 2010. He became a fan favorite (even though that should never be taken into account when evaluating players) and was a huge influence on the team.
The Rangers could have used his services for one more year is all I'm trying to say.
Steve Eminger and Other Thoughts
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The Rangers were in need of a veteran sixth or seventh defenseman so I was pleased they filled that hole with Steve Eminger by resigning him today. Eminger never publicly complained about his lack of playing time last year and should be a good help to the young defensive corps.
So now Eminger, Del Zotto, Erixon and Valentanko should be competing for the third defensive pair on this team. Personally, I hope Del Zotto and Erixon win the jobs. Let the kids get some experience with Eminger as the just-in-case man.
Some other thoughts, I'm happy football is back, but not happy about the Jets chances of keeping their free agents.
Speaking of the Jets, I was a fan of the Winnipeg Jets new logos, but not thrilled. I'd give them a 6 out of 10.
Finally, the Yanks-Mariners game is in a delay as of 7:45 Eastern Time and nobody needs a rain out like the Seattle Mariners. It will be good for the club to go to the ballpark and not lose.
Thanks for the read and feel free to comment.
Keep the military in your thoughts and prayers.