The Rangers made a bid for the questionably healthy Pat Lafontaine
yesterday, offering Christian Dube plus a draft pick. Buffalo rejected
the offer, saying “Dube is just too small”.
It looks like Jason Muzatti could well be the backup goalie, leaving Dan
Cloutier and Robb Stauber for Binghamton or elsewhere. Marc Savard
continues to score and get assists, leading the Rangers in pre-season
scoring. He deserves that 2nd line center spot. Sorry, Christian Dube.
There is a litttle rumour that Ulf Samuelsson and Jeff Beukeboom could be
on the block, perhaps to Vancouver for Pavel Bure and Bret Hedican. Eric
Cairns would become a regular on D to fill the void. Vladimir Vorobiev
doesn’t look like he’ll be playing for now. Is he still in Russia with Visa
problems? It’s certainly been a long time.
This summer brought a lot of changes to the New York team who was able to
beat the Eastern Conference leaders, the New Jersey Devils, in the
playoffs. Mark Messier has left a big hole in New York that seems almost
irreplaceable. Mike Keane and Brian Skrudland were brought in to help
Gretzky and Leetch with the leadership and provide good checking. Geoff
Smith has resurfaced in the Big Apple to provide the Rangers with much
needed defensive depth. Glenn Healy was signed away by the Leafs, and Dan
Cloutier figures to be the backup. They decided to trade the underachieving
Luc Robitaille to LA for underachiever Kevin Stevens. Hopefully, it will
rejeuvenate both wingers, but it looks like Robitaille will be more useful
in LA than Stevens will be in NY. Tikkanen and his playoff heroics are gone
to Florida. Where is Russ Courtnall these days? I haven’t been following
Who centers the second line now that Mess is gone? Sundstrom did an
admirable job of centering the second line 2 years ago in the playoffs when
Gretzky was with the St. Louis Blues. Will he stay on Gretzky’s wing and
let Christian Dube take over the controls? The Rangers caution against
pressuring kids like Dube when they’re not ready, so it looks like they’re
going to see what Christian can do in the pre-season first. So far, he’s
doing just okay. In the Rangers’ first game against the Montreal Canadiens
on Sunday, It was Marc Savard who was impressing people for the second line
job. The 2 time OHL scoring champ was said to be too small and too slow to
be able to make it in the NHL, but on this day he would not disappoint,
netting both Ranger goals.
Ronnie Sundin played well on defense for the Rangers and could join Eric
Cairns as 7th and 8th defensemen. Pierre Sevigny comes over from the
Canadiens as a potential fourth liner. Peter Ferraro was unimpressive as
usual. Goneau was the same. Darren Langdon was good while playing his usual
physical, fighting game. Churla may not be around this year to help him
out. Vladimir Vorobiev is having problems with getting his Visa but is
expected to come over sometime this week. He was impressive for a while
scoring goals in bunches, but only really played well against weaker teams.
The Rangers have 5 spots on the top two lines already filled: Stevens and
Graves on LW, Sundstrom and Kovalev on RW, and Gretzky in the middle. All
they need is a 2nd line center or RW (because Sundstrom can play center).
Chances are it will be one of Dube, Savard, or Vorobiev.