Changes in New York`s Latest Philosophy?

By Evan Andriopoulos
The Rangers, a club last year without heart went out and bought some as well as healed some wounds with the signing of the old warrior Mark Messier which brought many smiles to the faces of the New York faithful and sent a message to the kids in the system that “you are atleast two years away from having a shot in the show”!. Messier bring the lockerroom leadership that the blue shirts so badly needed last season and joy to the vendors as his no.11 will sell like hot cakes once they are ready for sale.

One has to question the direction Glen Sather is taking. The move to hire Ron Low, everyone`s second candidate instead of John Paddock, Kevin Lowe or even John Tortella was the first shot. The second is the signing of another project in Vladimir Malakhov while dumping the one defender who cared last season Mathieu Schneider… the signing of Messier was agreeable on all sides the youth question was again brought up. As the Rangers dumped top collegiate scout Herb Hammond and goalie coach Sam St.Laurent the two who actually made the Smith drafts acceptable, Glen Sather and his lackluster drafting ability took control of the ship Ranger and placed even more pressure on Mark Messier, moreso than was placed on him prior to the 1994 Cup victory.

One expects many more moves to be made and do not be suprised if Petr Nedved is part of a package. Thus with the 2000-01 season approaching one has to look through the depth chart and list the young players in the system with a shot at the “show”.

FORWARDS:


Pavel Brendl: After a nice rebound from a poor training camp this WHLer (no hit against our former pro league) should have a shot at the number 3 or 4 wing. The worst case would be a checking line position as this snipers needs ice and with the departure of Kevin Stevens to Philly and without a signing of Lemeiux he may earn the no.3 wing spot but will most likely see Hartford during a two week conditioning stint if he survives camp which will provide him with the competition he can be better evaluated against. After his junior season ends, if not in New York, Pavel will likely see the rest of the year in Hartford.

Jamie Lundmark: Injured, and suffering after a strong camp, Lundmark rebounded somewhat but still lacks size to play on a regular NHL top 3 line. He may start the season in New York but will most likely see time in Hartford also under a conditioning stint. As of now.. there is “no room at the inn”.

Manny Malhotra: If not traded Manny will be in Hartford as with the signing of Messier there is no room at the inn.

Brandon Dietrich: A strong collegiate season this 190 pounder may just open some eyes.

DEFENSE:

Alex Vasiliev: The most ready of the 23 and under crowd, although he makes many in front of the crease poor decisions, he carries the puck well and can skate like the breeze. See some ice time in New York.

Dale Purinton: Deserving of a shot as tough guy as anyone. This behemoth could easily play no.6 defense and the odd wing shift and replace the recovering Darren Langdon. Some time in New York unless he is dealt for Georges Larocque, and old favorite of Sather.

Pat Aufiero: A smooth skating defenseman will battle Mike Mottau (if signed)for ice time. With an offensive knack on defense the Rangers may just yet create a package to pick up a winger like Anson Carter, Mike Grier or Billy Guerin. Aufiero looks to see a shot at the club this year.

Mike Mottau: Still unsigned, this kid can skate and is strong for his 180lbs frame. Same as Aufiero, Mottau leads a crop of solid defenseman but like Aufiero and may more ahead of him he will be pressed for ice time with Leetch, Malakhov, Pilon, Johnsson, Quintal (hopefully gone) ahead.

Tomas Kloucek: If Sather likes Euro`s then great, if not…he will have to as Kloucek shows tremendous ability to play defense and cover his end. With former top prospects Wes Jarvis (the new Eric Cairns) and Burke Henry falling down the depth chart Kloucek has a strong shot at no.6.

GOALTENDING:

With McLean and Richter in tow the hopes for the ever growing number of goalies dim…unless a major deal is to be made.

Milan Hnilicka: An international hero for the Czech.Republic, this goalie is as ready for the NHL as anyone. If Sather and Smith before are not comfortable with him in camp then they should send him off to show them how he is ready to be a top flight netminder. Most likely…dealt but as good a no.2 as you will find in the NHL.

J.F.Labbe: A shade behind Hnilicka the best scenerio for Labbe is to look elsewhere, left unprotected and undrafted in expansion Labbe is a nice no.3 which means AHLer. He may get a shot at the NHL but in New York?

Johan Holmqvist: Could be the first Swede to truly dominate since Pelle Lindbergh. This 7th rounder is ready to take on the AHL in his first pro season in North America.

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