Not every Ranger gets Broadway billing during their time at Madison Square Garden. Here’s a list of 20 underrated Rangers who probably deserved greater fanfare over the past 20 seasons.
1. Anton Stralman – Stralman’s dependability was overlooked until his role in the Blueshirts’ run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final shined a light on his possession-dominant play and his ability to handle top matchups. The Rangers prioritized extending Dan Girardi that spring and signed veteran blue liner Dan Boyle when free agency opened, allowing Stralman to slip out the door to the Tampa Bay Lightning. His departure haunted the organization and fans for years to come, leaving everyone with a feeling of what-if.
Perhaps, Alain Vigneault’s Rangers could have captured the Stanley Cup had Stralman been retained. As a member of the Lightning, Stralman helped prevent the Blueshirts from making a repeat trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Lightning eliminated the Rangers in Game 7 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final.
Vigneault would ultimately be fired by the Rangers months after the trade. It’s worth pondering how Miller would have fared under current head coach David Quinn. The 27-year-old is currently enjoying the finest season of his career, having registered 72 points in 69 games as a Vancouver Canuck.
4. Martin Straka – Straka probably didn’t receive enough credit for his part in the Rangers’ revival following the 2004-05 lockout. The Czech forward recorded 187 points in 224 regular season games as a Blueshirt. His speed and quick-release shot allowed him to benefit from all the attention that opponents paid to Jagr.
7. Dominic Moore – Moore was the one who got away when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the summer of 2006. He would establish himself as one of the league’s best defensive centers and re-joined the Rangers in 2013. Alongside Boyle and Derek Dorsett, Moore was part of a fourth line that drew tough assignments and excelled during the Rangers’ 2014 run to the Stanley Cup Final. Fans will fondly remember his series-winning goal in Game 6 of that year’s Eastern Conference Final.
10. Artem Anisimov – Anisimov’s large frame, intelligence on both ends of the rink and goal-getting ability made him a unique and versatile forward across 244 regular season games with the Blueshirts. Some fans will probably remember him most for his 2011 sniper celebration that angered the Lightning and the aftermath was captured by HBO’s 24/7 series.
11. Martin Biron – Before Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta, Biron served as a valuable understudy to Henrik Lundqvist. He posted a 2.47 goals-against average across 46 regular season games as a Ranger.
12. Ruslan Fedotenko – The gutsy, bottom-six wing didn’t receive the plaudits of Brandon Prust and Boyle, but he thrived as a defensive forward under Tortorella.
15. Benoit Pouliot – Pouliot was probably the most overlooked member of 2014 Eastern Conference champion team. The big-bodied wing developed excellent chemistry with Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello and was a dominant puck-possessor in his lone season at The Garden.
16. Blair Betts – The hardworking center, face-off expert and key penalty-killer served as a respected leader under Tom Renney and Tortorella.
17. Jan Hlavac – Forming the “Czech Mates” line alongside Petr Nedved and Radek Dvorak, Hlavac’s skill allowed him to record 132 points in 218 regular season games as a Ranger.
18. Michael Sauer – Sauer was on track to a promising career until a Dec. 5, 2011 concussion ended his career.
19. Steve Valiquette – Now hailed for his insight as an MSG analyst, Valiquette enjoyed a strong 2007-08 campaign by posting a .916 save percentage in 13 appearances. He often brought his best against the rival Flyers, finishing his career with a 5-1-1 record, .939 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average against Philly.
20. Fredrik Sjostrom – Alongside Betts, the speedy Sjostrom formed a dynamite combination on the penalty kill.