Ratelle was a more dominant regular-season player at his peak, but I think I'd still go with Francis for the playoffs. He had a few dud years, sure, but he also dragged the Pens past the Rangers in '92 when Lemieux went down, was terrific against the Caps in that great '95 series, helped carry the Hurricanes to the finals in '02… (Oh yeah, and while that game 7 loss against the Isles in '93 was brutal, the only reason it went into OT was two late goals by Francis.)
Meanwhile, Ratelle was absolutely terrible in the postseason during his New York years.
Similar players. Here are the biggest differences:
- Ratelle was a much better goalscorer than Francis, who peaked at 32 goals and 28th in the NHL. Ratelle was top-10 3 times and top-20 7 times, IIRC.
- Francis was better defensively. Ratelle was solid, but Francis won a selke and challenged for the award a few more times.
- Ratelle was often very laid back, while Francis did occasionally show himself to be an intense competitor.
- Francis was better in the playoffs, as described above.
I say Francis. But wouldn't have them more than 12 spots apart.