Brandon Prust 2

In Brandon We Prust

Just three pre-season games remaining, and only a handful of cuts before the October 6th roster deadline. You can almost smell the hockey in the air.

Today’s Rangers Countdown player probably is as anxious to get in front of the MSG faithful as we are to see the team back on the ice.

Player Profile
Looking for some additional grit and scoring late last season, Ranger GM Glen Sather accomplished both when he sent ill fitting forwards Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.

Prust had already been traded twice, had two goals in NHL games and looked more like a throw-in, than the piece that would be left after the season had expired.

Credit goes to Prust for making the most of a chance to get out of Calgary a second time. The agitating winger announced his intentions from the very first game he played in a Rangers’ sweater, dropping the gloves against the Los Angeles Kings just hours after joining the team.

He’d go on to pick up 65 penalty minutes and chip in a useful 4 goals and 5 assists in just 26 games. Along the way he also picked up the respect of the Rangers fans, with his willingness to play on the edge and bring a physicality that wasn’t always there.

Going into 2010-11, it looks like Prust is pretty much a given on the fourth line, as an agitator who could play every game, and even provide a little penalty killing.

More rounded in his game than the towering Boogaard, it looks likely that he’ll be generally the go to guy to help keep the middleweight opponents on the other teams in line.

Yet, his position in the line-up is not always going to be guaranteed. Prust will need to show he can bring the same enthusiasm he showed last year, in the majority of the games. There’s a lot of competition this year for spots and ice time, and while there are fewer guys on the team who can bring what Prust does, his value will drop if he doesn’t deliver.

His relatively quiet preseason aside, I’m expecting more of what we saw last year. It’s just a question of how long he’ll be able to keep it up as the season drags on.

2009-10 Statistics
Team: Calgary Flames (NHL)
Stats: 1 goal, 4 assists and 98 penalty minutes in 43 games

Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 4 goals, 5 assists and 65 penalty minutes in 26 games

Prediction
Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 5 goals, 7 assists 165 penalty minutes in 65 games

Trivia
In 2005 Prust was designated the player responsible for shutting down a 17 year old Sidney Crosby in the Memorial Cup Final. Prust and the London Knights would go on to win the game 4-0.

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