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2018 Report Card: Ryan Sproul

Seriously though, how cool is that picture in the lead art?

Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Rangers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Yes, we have a report card for Ryan Sproul. And yes, we’re aware that he only played 16 games for the Rangers this season.

Those of you who aren’t interested in reading about the performance of a 25-year-old depth defenseman in 16 pretty-much-meaningless NHL games can find a brief synopsis of this article below:

Those of you genuinely interested in digging a little deeper into Sproul’s brief tenure with the Rangers; do read on.

Remember Matt Puempel?

On Oct. 21, 2017 Jeff Gorton dealt Matt Puempel to the Detroit Red Wings for Sproul. At the time Sproul was beginning his fifth season in the Red Wings organization. However, Detroit had a bit of a crowded blue line and Sproul was deemed expendable. It’s also worth mentioning that was coming off surgery to repair an ACL injury.

The Rangers weren’t giving up much in Puempel, but it was hard to say what they were getting back in Sproul. If nothing else he was a right-handed defenseman with a track record of being productive in the AHL.

“When Sproully plays his best, he goes back to pucks and he breaks it out with his feet,” Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said back in September. “He’s got to make sure he’s fast back to the puck, he’s got to make sure he spends as little time in the D zone as possible so he can use his best assets and that’s his feet and his shot.”

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The 55th overall pick of the 2011 Draft proved his worth in Hartford early on. In the 44 games Sproul spent with the Wolf Pack he scored 10 goals and picked up 15 assists — which is just one less point than John Gilmour had in his 44 AHL games this year. Oh, and Gilmour only had six goals compared to Sproul’s 10 goals. And he’s not even related to Doug Gilmour.

Sproul’s solid play in Hartford was not altogether surprising; he spent 27 games in the NHL with the Red Wings in 2016-17. His offense was certainly a welcome addition to a new-look Wolf Pack team.

Bright Lights, This Team is S****y

In February Gorton briefly called up Sproul to play four games — all of them losses — with the Rangers. When Tony DeAngelo went down with his injury Gorton and Chris Drury had to explain to Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge that they were taking another player out of his lineup. Sproul — haunted by the sobs of his AHL coach — joined the Rangers for the final 12 games of the regular season.

In those 16 games Sproul put up some intriguing numbers. He had a 3.12 Rel CF% and the best CF% on the the Rangers’ blue line (excluding Nick Holden’s final four games in New York). It’s important to note that Alain Vigneault gave him a lot of offensive zone starts (5-on-5). He even had more offensive zone starts during his time in New York than DeAngelo — well, only by .06 percent, but still.

There’s a reason why Vigneault sheltered Sproul on a defense that was thinner than a crepe; he was pretty bad in his own zone. Of course, that wasn’t much of a surprise. Sproul has never been known for his play in his own zone.

All told, Sproul put up one goal and four assists in 16 games with the Rangers this year. Those are pretty respectable numbers considering his extremely limited power play ice time and the quality of the team he was playing on.

Sproul, like a mole, finds the hole and scores a goal.
Shayna Goldman | @hayyyshayyy

Sproul’s post-deadline average ice time was 16:54; the only Rangers defenseman who saw less ice time in those dozen games is that guy who isn’t related to Doug Gilmour. But even with that limited ice time Sproul was able to make a relatively positive impression. He scored a goal, picked up two assists, and looked a hell of a lot better than Rob O’Gara.

Grade: “Incomplete” or a C+ made out of smoke

If Sproul’s time with the Rangers was a packet of fruit snacks the “may contain traces of milk, eggs, almonds, coconut, peanuts, and soy” warning would be replaced by a small sample size warning. Also, that small sample size warning would have an asterisk on it further warning the consumer that he played in meaningless games that made player evaluation extremely difficult.

No one in the Rangers organization is losing sleep worrying about Sproul walking as a free agent on July 1. It’s not exactly a secret that he wants to be an everyday NHL defenseman and he didn’t get a chance to prove himself in New York until the Rangers really had no other options.

2018 Report Cards: Marc Staal / Mats Zuccarello / Ryan Spooner / Rob O’Gara / Jimmy Vesey / Brendan Smith / Vladislav Namestnikov / Brady Skjei / Steven Kampfer / Jesper Fast/ Alexandar Georgiev / Pavel Buchnevich/ Ondrej Pavelec / Kevin Hayes / Mika Zibanejad / Alain Vigneault / John Gilmour / Ryan McDonagh / Neal Pionk