Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

New York Rangers Need To Cut Down On "Muscle" Players

With July 1st looming, the New York Rangers need to take a look at two of their “muscle” guys, Stu Bickel and Brandon Prust, and decide how they will address both of their contracts.  As the Rangers look to deal with their goal scoring issue (by the way, Alexander Radulov is not the answer), two names taking up space for new goal scoring talent is Bickel and Prust.  While both contribute to the team in other ways, does the team really need two of their kind?

Stu Bickel, a cap hit of $600,000, is best described as a player only useful one out of every fifteen games.  As the NHL shifts away from the enforcer/fighting style of play, players like Bickel are finding themselves without a purpose on the team.  In 51 games, Bickel only managed 9 points, all assists, but picked up 108 PIM.  He’s not exactly the Rangers solution to the goal scoring problem, however he does find use in the games that the Rangers play the New Jersey DevilsPhiladelphia Flyers, and other teams that ruffle feathers.

This raises the question, is Bickel worth to have on the team for those 20 games or so?  Listed as a defensemen on the roster, Bickel has spent more time on the 4th line as a centerman (even taking the starting face off in that one insane game against the Devils) than anyone ever expected.  So who’s place is he taking?

Well you’d have to assume that if he’s there fighting on the 4th line, fellow muscle Brandon Prust is getting bumped.  At $800,000 Prust is a slight step up from Bickel offensively, with 5 goals and 12 assists and 156 PIM in 82 games.   The biggest difference is that most of Bickel’s penalties were for fighting, Prust was split between fights and actual playing penalties.

Neither one is going to solve the goal problems the Rangers have been having, and with a downward trend in fighting, their need for the Rangers to retain them is limited.  Why should the Rangers resign both?  Why should the Rangers set aside over $1.4 million in cap space for both of these players?  Sure they have heart, but their heart doesn’t score and doesn’t set up plays that lead to goals.

If the Rangers are smart they only retain one, Stu Bickel.

In the end, Bickel is going to cost you less money (which frees up cash to sign someone to make up for the lack of goals) and will be much more movable than Prust.  Bickel is large body (6’4″ compared to Prust’s 6′) out on the ice.  Train him to block shots a bit better and he could really make a difference out there.

Yeah, the Rangers don’t need more shot blocking, they need more goals, but at the end of the day, Prust isn’t going to get the team what they need for all the money he’s going to expect.  Rangers can resign Bickel for $800,000 (maybe even $750,000) but Prust could end up with $1.2 or $1.4 million, it’s not a big difference but if the Rangers want to sign a big name, every little bit helps.

Do I love Prust?  Yeah, but at the end of the day, I love a winning team more.  Don’t you?

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Tags: Brandon Prust Fighting Free Agency Goals New York Rangers Stu Bickel

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