For each player who suited up in a Blueshirt this season we will take the good, we will take the bad and take them both and see what we have. And this time around we started with the high numbers and are up (or down) to #8, Brandon Prust.
#8's #s: 82 games, 13 goals, 16 assists, +2, 160 PIM (5 playoff games, no goals, one assist, even, 4 PIM).
Take the good: Brandon Prust earned the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. The throw-in to the Olli Jokinen deal busted his ass and became an indispensable part of the roster this season. Prust was the prototypical modern-day enforcer - a guy who could fight and a guy who could play. He threw down the gloves 18 times and came away with an 11-5-2 record. He had the respect of his teammates and the fear of his opponents: he fought in the first two minutes of a game four times, and his team went on to win that game all four times. With his gloves on Prust paired with Brian Boyle to become a shockingly difficult pairing for opponents to deal with at even strength and shorthanded. When combined with Ruslan Fedotenko, the three made for one of the best checking lines in the NHL. They forechecked, they backchecked and then they checked some more, wearing down opponents and forcing turnovers. Prust surprised with his speed and it helped him to tie for third in the NHL with five shorthanded goals.
Take the bad: "It's only pain" is one spectacular motto and it endeared him even further to fans and teammates alike. But there is being brave and there is being stupid - there were multiple games where Prust was clearly playing with one arm because his shoulder was so screwed up, limiting his effectiveness.
Take them both and then we have: A tough guy for the rebuilding Rangers and a fan favourite for the Garden faithful. Prust drew a legion of fans with his work and set career numbers for the low, low price of $800,000. He raised expectations playing with Shelley and Anisimov immediately after the Jokinen trade and he blew them away this season. Prust has raised the bar and he will have to keep on working hard to reach it going further. Just think of what he will do next season when he is in a contract year ...