Rangers’ Future: Goaltending – Part 1

By Brandon LeBourveau
The best part about the Rangers future is that they are very deep in
solid goaltending prospects, possibly the deepest team in the league. The
Rangers have done some excellent scouting the past few seasons, pick up
goaltending gems such as Johan Holmqvist in the 7th Round of the ’97 Entry
Draft and Vitali Yeremeyev in the 11th Round of the ’94 Entry Draft. Let’s
take a look at some of the Rangers goalie prospects, where they should play
this upcoming season, and what type of future they have.

Name: Johan Holmqvist

Position: Goalie

Catches: Left

Height: 6-01

Weight: 200 lbs

Birthdate: May 24, 1978

Hometown: Tolfta, Sweden

Acquired: Draft 1999, 7th Round

Holmqvist, 22, is the Rangers top goalie prospect in the organization. He
has been the best goaltender in Sweden, and possibly could be the best goalie
to ever come from Sweden, and that means he could be better than Edmonton
Oilers all-star Tommy Salo. Holmqvist recently signed a contract with the
Rangers, and will be at both the rookie camp in Kitchener and the big
training camp in Burlington, Vermont. Holmqvist has the potential to be the
best goaltender in the NHL in a few years. If he plays well enough in
training camp, he could beat Kirk McLean for the Rangers back-up position. If
he doesn’t make the Rangers, he’ll for sure be in the AHL with Hartford.
McLean’s contract is up at years end, and next season could be the time
Holmqvist could show off his world class talent to the NHL.

Name: Jason Labarbera

Position: Goalie

Catches: Left

Height: 6-03

Weight: 210 lbs

Birthdate: January 18, 1980

Hometown: Burnaby, British Columbia

Acquired: 3rd Round, 1998 Draft

Stats

 
Year Team League GP W L T GAA
1999-00 Spokane WHL 21 12 6 2 2.62
Portland WHL 34 8 24 2 3.68
1998-99 Portland WHL 51 18 23 9 3.41
1997-98 Portland WHL 23 18 4 0 3.31
1996-97 Portland WHL 9 5 1 1 2.44
Tri-City WHL 2 1 0 0 3.81

Labarbera, 20, was the Rangers 3rd round pick in the ’98 draft and has
been progressing well ever since. He should be battling Holmqvist, Yeremeyev
and the other goalies at Rangers camp and if he plays well enough, he could
be the backup goalie for the Rangers this season. With 4 goalies capable of
being the backup goalie this season, a lot will go down at training camp. At
20 years old, Labarbera could be too young for the NHL, and 2 years in
Hartford could be the best thing for him. He is a big goalie he takes up most
of the net and has the potential to be a starting goalie in the NHL. It will
be interesting to see how well he plays at training camp.

Name: Vitali Yeremeyev

Position: Goalie

Catches: Left

Height: 6-1

Weight: 175 lbs

Birthdate: September 23, 1975

Hometown: Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan

Acquired: 1994 NHL Draft, 11th round (209th overall)

Stats


Season Team League GP MIN GA SO GAA
1993-94 Kamenogorsk CIS 19 1015 38 - 2.24
1994-95 CSKA Moscow CIS 49 2733 97 - 2.13
1995-96 CSKA Moscow CIS 25 1339 37 5 1.66
1996-97 CSKA Moscow Russia 14 635 35 0 3.31
1997-98 Yaroslavl Russia 17 979 19 3 1.16
1998 Kazakhstan Olympics 7 292 28 - 5.76
1998-99 CSKA Moscow Russia-2 19 1100 33 - 1.80
1999-00 Dynamo Moscow Russia 26 - - 7 1.23

Yeremeyev, 25, has dominated Russia for the past 2 seasons. In 26 games
last year for Dynamo Moscow, he posted a 1.23 Goals Against Average. The
previous year, his GAA was a little higher, but downright awesome at 1.80.
Yeremeyev has a lot of potential, and the Rangers were eager to sign him this
summer and bring him over to North America. So far, they have done just that.
Yeremeyev will be with the Rangers for the rookie camp in Kitchener this
week. The big test for Vitali will be at the big training camp. He has a lot
of talent, and could possibly beat out Kirk McLean for the backup job. With
the amount of goalies the Rangers have, it will be hard for Yeremeyev to find
a place to play. Most likely he’ll be with either the Charlotte Checkers of
the ECHL or the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. Yeremeyev will likely be a
very good back-up in the NHL, but if he continues his dominant play, he could
become a starting goalie for years to come.

Name: Johan Asplund

Position: Goalie

Catches: Left

Height: 6-1

Weight: 195 lbs

Birthdate: December 15, 1980

Hometown: Slutskar, Sweden

Acquired: 1999 NHL draft, third round (79th overall)

Another great goalie drafted by the Rangers out of Sweden, Asplund, 19,
was teammates with fellow Rangers prospect Johan Holmqvist for Brynas of the
Swedish Elite League before being traded. Asplund hasn’t signed a
professional contract yet, and will stay in Sweden this season. With
Holqmvist in North America, Asplund should finally get the attention in
Sweden he deserves. His upside is a starting goalie, but should be a good
back-up once he gets to the NHL. However a lot can change from now until then.

Name: Bryce Wandler

Position: Goalie

Catches: Left

Height: 6-0

Weight: 180 lbs

Birthdate: February 25, 1979

Hometown: Lacombe, Alberta

Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent

Stats


Year Team League GP GAA W L T Svs% SO
1999-00 Swift Current WHL 56 2.06 37 15 2 .919 6
Swift Current* WHL 10 2.91 5 5 0 .914 0
1998-00 Swift Current WHL 51 2.56 23 20 4 .905 3
1997-98 Edmonton WHL 47 4.17 12 27 4 .884 1

An undrafted free agent, the Rangers signed Wandler after a spectacular
season in the WHL for the Swift Current Broncos. He had a 2.06 GAA along with
a .919 save percentage and 6 shutouts. Can Wandler become the next Ed
Belfour, a former undrafted free agent who now is one of the best goaltenders
in the NHL? Wandler could possibly be. He will likely see time in the ECHL or
AHL this season, or as the case is with other Ranger goalie prospects, could
possibly win the backup spot with a great training camp.

Next week, I will be analyzing the defensive prospects for the Rangers. I
hope you’ll all be looking forward to that report.