After a "sub-par" season in 2008-2009 the Tampa Bay Lightning cut their ties with Vaclav "Vinny" Prospal by buying him out, prompting Vincent Lecavalier to say: "Obviously, I'm very disappointed," said Lecavalier "I feel for him. I know he really loves Tampa, so I was disappointed. I always said I like to play with Vinny Prospal, and every time he had a bad year, he came back and had a great one." Well, Prospal did just that, putting up 20 goals for 58 points in 75 games for the bargain price of $1.15 million during his re-union with John Tortorella.
Join me after the jump for more.
#20 / Left Wing / New York Rangers
Feb 17, 1975
|2009 - Vinny Prospal||75||20||38||58||8||32||6||1||4||0||180||11.1|
What we liked: Prospal is very much the type of player New York Ranger fans want to watch. Harding working and determined, Prospal brought intensity to the first line right from the start of the season. He benefited immensely from playing with Gaborik, but his play should not be overlooked as he helped ease Gaborik into his new Manhattan home (something that hasn't gone so smoothly for some players). On the statistical side, he had the third highest relative +/- rating on the team (min. 60 games) and his Quality of Competition and Corsi numbers indicate that he played against top competition while also getting pucks on the opponents net. Overall, Prospal did his job and he did it well.
What we didn't like: As much as I really did try, I couldn't think of or find much to nit-pick about Vinny's season. One stat that does stand out to me is the fact that he started in the offensive zone 59 percent of the time when it came to face-offs. This shouldn't be shocking to anyone seeing as Prospal played with Gaborik for the majority of the time, but with this statistic the general point to remember is that if you're starting in the opponents zone most of the time then you have a better chance of A) not getting scored on and B) producing better stats over time. Otherwise, what else did Prospal really do wrong this past season? Nothing really.
Highlight Game/Play: Prospal had a four point game (2-2) against Washington in a 6-5 losing effort, but when the Rangers seemed lost and the playoff stretch was starting Prospal had a 3 point night with 2 goals in a 5-2 win at Atlanta. As for his play of the year, I think the following describes Vinny well as the playmaker with goal-scoring abilities that he has been his whole career:
Final thoughts: Prospal exceeded expectations and did everything he could this season for the Blueshirts. His re-union with Torts proved successful enough to the point where if he isn't brought back next season it will be seen as a mistake by some for sure. Torts wants to get younger, which is what all Ranger fans want to hear, but at the same time Prospal provides an all-but guaranteed 35 to 40 points if not more for a relatively cheap price (my guess would be somewhere around $2 million). Plus, he could be a place-holder for one more year if a serious #1 center isn't found (which will be tough with the cap) or developed (I don't see any one of our kids being a #1 Center next season).
So what do you think about Vinny's season? Think he will be back? If so, how much should bring him back? Let's hear it...
[Note by Rob Luker, 05/04/10 10:07 PM EDT (If the NHL Network video doesn't work for you (it's been on and off lately for me) you can see the goal here on youtube).]