Finding 10 Ranger goalies to make the list was difficult, but with the defenseman, the difficulty was trimming the list down to 10. So here they are, the 10 best Ranger Dmen of my time.
- Sergei Zubov, and Dave Maloney.
I thought about not putting Zubov on the list. He only played in 165 games as a Ranger, but he was just too good a player during that time to leave out. Zubov had 156 pts in those 165 games, including his being the leading scorer (89 pts) of the ’94 team. An excellent puck mover with great vision and instincts, Zubov was traded away in an awful trade, because his coach held a ridiculous grudge. [Editor’s note: I would have had Zubov much higher on this list]
Maloney was a heart and soul Ranger. The youngest captain in franchise history. Dave played in 650 games as a Ranger. The fun STAT with Maloney were his penalty minutes. 1,113 in his career as a Ranger. Not much of a fighter, but he seemed to find his way to the box.
- Jeff Buekeboom.
Buekeboom was the type of Dman that we wish the Rangers had right now. Rugged, physical, cleared the crease, and protected his teammates. He rode shot gun for Brian Leetch. Jeff played in 520 games as a Ranger, and amassed 1,157 penalty minutes. 1994 Cup champion.
- Barry Beck.
Beck’s Ranger career was wrecked by shoulder injuries. The most famous was the 1984 game 4 hit by Patrick Flatly of the Islanders. When healthy, Beck was a beast. Physical on D, with a very good offensive game, Beck scored 66 goals and had 239 points in his 415 games as a Ranger.
- Dan Girardi.
I wrestled with this one a bit. Did Girardi belong on the list? And if so, where? I settled at 7. How could the number one right side Dman, during a great era of Ranger hockey, be left off the list? Girardi goes against every top forward in the game, and does a terrific job of holding them down. 770 games with the Rangers as an un-drafted FA. He is an original Black, and Blueshirt. While his game has slipped in the past couple of seasons, he has recovered somewhat this season.
- Marc Staal.
When I first saw Staal play, I thought to myself, Larry Robinson. Those long strides while carrying the puck, and the size, had me thinking stud Dman. He just needed to add some nasty to his game. None of that happened. It wasn’t too long ago that I was hoping the Rangers would trade this disappointment. But the more I watched Staal, the more I appreciated his game. Very good with the stick, and excellent at getting body position, and at his best when the game is nasty. Staal has shown there is more than one way to be a shutdown Dman. A career Ranger, with 657 games under his belt.
- Ryan McDonagh.
The Rangers captain was stolen from the Montreal Canadiens, for Scot Gomez, and no Scot Gomez. Powerful skater, strong defender; he is matched up against the top lines of every team. Still manages to contribute offensively with 198 points in 438 games. McDonagh has underrated toughness, as seen in the 2015 playoffs, as he played with a broken foot.
- James Patrick.
In my view, Patrick is a very underrated Ranger. A tremendous skater, Patrick was as fast backwards as a lot guys were forwards. An offensive defenseman, Patrick had 467 points in his 671 games as a Ranger. He was traded during the ’94 season in a deal that involved Steve Larmer. Keenan was not a fan, and Patrick had become redundant with the emergence of Sergie Zubov.
- Ron Greschner.
Greschner, in my view, is an all time Ranger. 982 games played, and 610 points. “Young Greschner” was a slow skater, but had a knack for slowing everybody on the opposition down so that he looked faster. A great stick handler, Greschner also had a tough side to him. He was a very willing fighter. Injuries were a big part of Greschner’s career. I would guess he missed well over 100 games in career due to injury. An all time great Ranger, and one of my favorites.
- Brad Park.
The second best Dman in the league many years behind Bobby Orr. Park was an all around Dman, with a lot of offense in his game. 465 games played for the Rangers, and 378 points. Traded to the hated Bruins, in a trade, that at the time made a lot of Ranger fans sick. He was also not afraid to drop the gloves, and would often drop them against Philly.
- Brian Leetch.
The greatest drafted Ranger player. I would argue that he is simply the greatest Ranger ever. 1,129 games, and 981 points as a Ranger. The bigger the stakes, the bigger Leetch played. Rookie of the year, two time Norris trophy winner, and the Conn Smyth trophy in 1994. Stanley Cup champion. My personal favorite game of Leetch was in the second round of the ’95 playoffs. Game two against Philly. It was the most dominant game I have ever seen him play. He scored a hat trick, and was all over the place. They lost the game 4-3 in OT, but I remember shaking my head at how good he was. In a 33 playoff game stretch that covered the ’94 and ’95 playoffs, Leetch scored 17 goals and had 48 points! During his Ranger career, his teammates included Guy LaFleur, Marcel Dionne, Mark Messier, and Wayne Gretzky.