So what do you know, it seems that my “Player Profile” series has taken on it’s own version of the Madden curse. Two weeks ago I wrote an article on Del Zotto, now, he’s fine tuning his talents in the AHL. Rozsival last week, traded yesterday. You may be asking yourself, Adam, if your posts are cursed why would you do a player like Prust and not Christensen? Well, I debated that question all morning, but to maintain the integrity of the blog I must carry on the right way! And like the Madden curse, this one too shall come to an end…someday.
Prust is an interesting player to do a post like this on just because of how young he is and how much limited success he has had at one point, to the successes he is seeing this season with the Rangers.
Here’s a little more about what you need to know about Brandon Prust #8 (good number)
Weight: 192 lbs
Drafted: 3rd round (70th overall) 2004 by the Calgary Flames
NHL Experience: Currently in his 4th NHL season
Before the NHL:
Before making his mark at the NHL level the London, Ontario native Prust was able to play in the Ontario Hockey League for his hometown team the London Knights where he was really able to make a splash for himself. What Prust did with Knights in 3 seasons there was very similar to what he has been doing for the Rangers so far this season. I do believe that one season Prust led the OHL in shorthanded goals. The London Knights where also the OHL champions in 2004-2005, and not only that but they beat Sidney Crosby’s QMJHL team Rimouski Oceanic to obtain that title. Prust was able to beat Crosby’s team while also protecting his teammates and future NHLers such as Corey Perry, Rob Schremp, and Dave Bolland.
After perfecting his game in the OHL Prust made the jump to the AHL where he would spend parts of three seasons. Prust was able to continue scoring at a modest pace in the AHL while again providing protection for his teammates. He recorded 90 points in 221 career AHL games. More impressive was his penalty minutes total which came out to be 753 for those 221 games.
After spending a full year in the AHL in 07-08 Prust made the permanent jump to the NHL with the Flames starting in the 08-09 season.
Not yet Prusty…there’s really not a high demand for grinding type players in the Olympics or World Championships…well, tell that to Chris Drury I guess.
This is where Prust’s story becomes a little odd. Prust broke into the NHL full time with the Flames in the 08-09 season. Prust got through 25 games with the Flames where he averaged just 6:21 on ice per game while recording 79 PIMs. On March 4th of this season Prust was traded from the Flames to the Coyotes (for a deal including sending Ollie Jokinen from the Yotes to Flames). Prust would finish out the 08-09 season as a Coyote where he played 11 games.
It gets better.
On June 27th of that off-season, the Coyotes traded Prust BACK TO the Flames for Jim Vandermeer. Prust was back where he was drafted.
Again Prust was used as a staple on the fourth line and that’s all for Calgary. During the 09-10 season with the Flames Prust averaged just 6:33 on ice through 46 games. And then on February 2nd the Flames again traded Brandon Prust, this time with the player he was traded away for in the first place, Jokinen, to the Rangers where he now remains today. But ouch Flames, trading a guy twice in under a year? Ouch.
Prust would finish off the 09-10 season trying to help the Rangers get into the playoffs, a goal they would ultimately not reach. But this is when Prust began to see his first increased role with a team as he averaged 9:20 on ice per game and the line of Jody Shelly – Anisimov – Prust was the best line down the stretch for the Rangers.
So far his NHL numbers are: 158 games, 32 points, +8, 393 PIMs
In the eyes of John Tortorella and the Rangers brass Prust has taken a huge step forward in his development this season. He’s gone from a fourth line energy guy to a third line power forward that can be used in all situations. He’s gone from averaging 9:20 on ice per game to averaging over 14 minutes a game. He’s also experiencing what is by far and away his best NHL season so far recording 15 points in 43 games while being able to do the dirty stuff like dropping the gloves in the absence of Boogaard as well.
But it is here where Torts and I really differ in opinion. Torts has gone on record saying that Prust and Boyle (more on Boyle next week) have worked their way into the core of the Rangers. And I’ve said this in a previous post but I’m not sold on Boyle and Prust in the core. They are essential players to making a deep playoff run but they are not guys that you build a team around, my definition of the core. I still think that Prust is playing over his head right now on the Rangers third line and would be better served for the team in a fourth line role with PK time. I just don’t think Prust has the offensive skill to play over 14 minutes a game but hey, I’ve gotta trust the coach on this one.
If Prust continues to impress the coaches and front office there’s no doubt that they’re going to keep him around in the future. He is signed through this season and next and becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent after the 2011-2012 season. Now if he continues developing at the pace he’s currently developing at and continues to work his way onto the core of the team in Tortorella’s eyes then there is no doubt that Prust will be a Ranger throughout the duration of this contract as well as after it. I don’t really foresee the Rangers pulling a Flames on the guy and trading him twice in less than one year.
He’s a good character guy in the locker room and is more than willing to drop the gloves and get dirty for his teammates. He’s proved he can play in all situations (even strength, PK, PP) and will continue to grow as an NHL player, just like many others on this current New York Rangers roster (which only has three active players over the age of 30).
About the Author
Written by Adam Gavriel