If you're like me you've come to the conclusion that either Chris Drury or Scott Gomez will end up having the distinction of being named the 25th Captain of the New York Rangers before the start of the season. With the other player being designated as an Assistant Captain. So the question is who gets the other "A"?
Let's look at the contenders...
Positives - Naslund was named captain of the Vancouver Canucks before the 2000 season (after the departure of Mark Messier) and held the title for the duration of his career in Vancouver. Naslund is a Lester B. Pearson Award winner (2003) and former Hart Memorial Trophy nominee (2003). He is also a three-time First Team All-Star, chosen in 2002, 2003 and 2004. After being traded to Vancouver in 1996, he became the franchise leader in goals and points. In 11 seasons with the Canucks, he was named team MVP five times and led the team in scoring for seven consecutive seasons — both team records.
Negatives - Naslund finished last season with his lowest points total since 1997-98 and apparently became frustrated with coach Alain Vigneault's defensive coaching style. I guess Naslund didn't watch many Ranger games last year, because if he became frustrated with a defensive coaching style in Vancouver, it's not going to be much different here.
Positives - Rozsival is the longest tenured Ranger defenseman and just recently signed a 4 year, $20 million contract. Rozsival's defining moment with the Rangers was his overtime winner against Buffalo in Game 3 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Negatives - Rozsival is coming off of off-season surgery and his worst year defensively. Rozsival frustrated fans all year with his hesitancy to shoot on the power play. While he ended the season with a career high 13 goals, most Ranger fans will tell you he should have had close to 20.
Positives - In 1999, Redden was named alternate captain of the Senators, a position he has held for nine seasons ever since. Redden scored double-digit goals in five of the six seasons between 1999 and 2006. During which time he was one of the premier power play quarterbacks in the league. He is a two-time All Star and was part of a strong defensive pairing in Ottawa's run to the finals in 2007. He also just signed a 6 year, $39 million contract, meaning he'll be manning our power play for a long time.
Negatives - After scoring double-digit goals in five of the six seasons between 1999 and 2006, Redden has not scored more than seven in the last two seasons. Last year, Redden was an assistant captain on a Senators team that absolutely folded down the stretch and lied to the Ottawa fans when he said he would take a hometown discount to stay in Ottawa right before he signed his $39 million deal with the Rangers.
The Dark Horses
Positives - Dubinsky in his first full year as a Rangers rookie ended the season centering the team's number one line. He was one of sixteen rookies selected to participate in the 2008 YoungStars competition at the 56th NHL All-Star Game as well as receiving the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.
Negatives - Dubinsky is only 22-years-old and this will only be his second full season playing in the NHL. However, the Chicago Blackhawks just named 20-year-old Jonathan Toews the team's 34th Captain, so you never know.
Positives - Betts has been with the team since the 2004 season and has quickly become one of the teams most reliable penalty killers and face-off men. Betts was also 6th on the team, 1st among forwards, with 98 blocked shots last year.
Negatives - Betts is a fourth line player who was a -4 last year and has yet to show any leadership qualities.
Positives - Callahan personifies hustle on the ice. He was one of the keys to the Rangers run to the playoffs in 2007 as well as last year. His hustle play to score in Game 1 against New Jersey last year encapsulates what Callahan is about. Not to mention his work along the boards in Game 5 against New Jersey which helped clinch the game and the series.
Negatives - Callahan is only 23-years-old and has yet to play a full season in the NHL.
Looking at these contenders my feeling is that Naslund will end up rounding out the assistant captains. I think that Naslund's seven years as a captain in Vancouver can't be overlooked despite coming off his worst offensive season. And his being named team MVP five times says a lot. If one of our assistant captains gets injured, it should come down to Redden and Rozsival. However, Rozsival's three year tenure with the Rangers and my anticipation of a big year from him with Jagr not around clinches it for Rozsival in my mind.
However, if the Rangers end up re-signing Brendan Shanahan this whole article will be for not. What do you guys think?