Ryan McDonagh exemplifies what we want a New York Ranger to be," Sather said. "He has earned the respect of his teammates through his commitment to excellence, both on and off the ice, and the passion with which he plays on a consistent basis. He is the ideal choice to lead our team as its captain."
McDonagh, 25, becomes the fourth-youngest captain in Rangers history, and the 11th defenseman in team history to be named captain. The Rangers are now the second franchise in NHL history to have three consecutive American-born captains (along with the Dallas Stars)*.
Last season, the 6-1, 216-pounder was named Team MVP and received the Players' Player Award, which recognizes the Ranger who best exemplifies what it means to be a team player. McDonagh became the 10th defenseman in team history to be selected as Team MVP since the award's inception following the 1941-42 season, and was the first Ranger to be named Team MVP and receive the Players' Player Award in the same season since Brian Leetch in 2002-03.
McDonagh established career-highs in goals (14), assists (29), points (43), power play points (13), shorthanded goals (three), game-winning goals (four), and average ice time (24:49) in 2013-14. He tied the Rangers' franchise record for shorthanded goals by a defenseman in one season, which Leetch established in 1988-89. McDonagh led the Rangers in average ice time, ranked second in blocked shots (131), tied for third in game-winning goals, ranked fourth in assists, tied for fourth in power play assists (11), and ranked fifth in points and power play points.
In the 2014 Playoffs, McDonagh tied for first among NHL defensemen in assists (13), and ranked second among NHL defensemen in points (17). He established a franchise record for assists by a defenseman in one playoff series with eight during the Rangers' six-game series victory over Montreal in the Eastern Conference Finals. McDonagh's 13 assists were tied for the fourth-highest total a Ranger has had in one playoff year, and his 17 points were the third-highest total for a Rangers defenseman in one playoff year.
The St. Paul, Minnesota native represented the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where he tallied two points (one goal, one assist) in six games. McDonagh ranked second on Team USA in average ice time (20:43) during the Olympics.
Entering his fifth NHL season, McDonagh has registered 26 goals and 77 assists for 103 points, along with 116 penalty minutes and a plus-65 rating in 246 career NHL games. He has finished second on the Rangers in blocked shots in each of the last three seasons, and has ranked first, second, or third on the team in average ice time in each of the last three seasons. McDonagh has also posted a plus-11 rating or better in each of his four NHL seasons. He registered a single-game career-high, three points, including his 100th career NHL point, and tallied the game-winning goal in overtime on March 24, 2014 vs. Phoenix.
McDonagh was acquired by the Rangers from Montreal, along with Chris Higgins, Pavel Valentenko, and Doug Janik, in exchange for Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, and Mike Busto on June 30, 2009. He was originally selected by the Canadiens in the first round, 12th overall, of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Girardi has skated in 569 career NHL games over parts of eight NHL seasons, all with the Rangers, registering 36 goals and 142 assists for 178 points, along with 217 penalty minutes and a plus-16 rating. The Welland, Ontario native served as one of the team's three alternate captains at the end of last season, and ranks second on the Rangers' all-time playoff games played list (89).
St. Louis has registered 370 goals and 611 assists for 981 points, along with 290 penalty minutes and a plus-25 rating in 1,060 career NHL games with the Rangers, Calgary Flames, and Tampa Bay Lightning. He served as an alternate captain with the Lightning for six seasons (2007-08 - 2012-13), and was Tampa Bay's captain for part of the 2013-14 season.
Staal has skated in 460 career NHL games over seven NHL seasons, all with the Rangers, registering 27 goals and 84 assists for 111 points, along with 254 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native has served as an alternate captain with the Blueshirts since the start of the 2010-11 season.
Stepan has skated in 294 career NHL games, all with the Rangers, registering 73 goals and 124 assists for 197 points, along with 72 penalty minutes and a plus-59 rating. Stepan, who is entering his fifth NHL season, established career-highs in assists (40), points (57), power play goals (five), power play assists (13), and power play points (18), and tied a career-high in shorthanded assists (three) in 2013-14.
* The Minnesota Wild had three consecutive American-born captains as part of their rotational captain system during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.