Well, it seems as though the Rangers currently find themselves in the midst of yet another 4 game losing streak this season as they head into Dallas for a game on New Year’s Eve. The Rangers should have won their last 3 games, all losses to Nashville, Carolina and Atlanta. The 2nd year Thrashers destroyed the Rangers last night in every category en route to a 4-1 victory. Mike Richter came back from injured reserve, but he didn’t look any better than what he did a week ago. However, as ironic as it may seem, there is some bright spots currently in Ranger Land and it comes from their prized young prospects, who are currently performing well at the World Junior Championships in Moscow, Russia. Here is some news on how they are doing, and some other transactions that have occured in the last few days.
World Junior Championships
- Jamie Lundmark and team Canada have played 2 games since I last updated. Lundmark scored a goal on a 2-on-1 in Canada’s 2-2 tie with Finland yesterday, and today Lundmark went scoreless in a 3-1 loss to highly touted prospect Ilya Kovalchuk and the mighty Russians. Lundmark currenlty has 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) and 2 penalty minutes in 3 games so far. Canada is currently 1-1-1.
- Pavel Brendl and the Czech Republic have played one game since I last updated. The Czech’s defeated team USA today by a score of 4-2. Brendl played a great game for the Czech Republic, registering 2 assists. His 1st assist was on the 1st goal of the game scored by Colorado prospect Vaclav Nedorost, and his second assist came on the go ahead goal by Atlanta prospect Zdenek Blatny to put the Czech’s ahead 2-1 in the 2nd period. Brendl currently has 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) and 4 penalty minutes in 3 games so far. The Czech Republic is currently 3-0-0.
- Sven Helfenstein and team Switzerland have played 1 game since I last updated. Helfenstein was a key factor for Switzerland, scoring the team’s 3rd goal in a 3-1 win over Belarus. Helfenstein also took a 2 minute roughing penalty during the game. Helfenstein currently has 2 points (2 goals) and 2 penalty minutes in 3 games so far. Switzerland’s record is 1-1-1. Helfenstein and Switzerland take on Rangers prospect Jamie Lundmark and team Canada on Sunday.
- Henrik Lundqvist and team Sweden have played 1 game since I last updated. Lundqvist made 15 saves in Sweden’s 8-2 win over Kazakhstan. He even picked up an assist on the game winning goal by Johan Reineck in the 2nd period. Through 3 games, Lundqvist has a 1.67 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He ranks 5th among goalies in the tournament with his .923 save percentage and he ranks 4th with his 1.67 GAA. Sweden is now 2-1-0 in the tournament.
- The Rangers have dealt their most valuable asset (sarcasm intended), a 5th round pick in the upcoming draft, to the Colorado Avalanche for 36 year old veteran defenseman Alexei Gusarov. In the mind of the Rangers, it adds depth and experience to the blueline, in case an injury occurs. They expect Gusarov to come in and play around 15 minutes a game. He’s not flashy or physical, but is solid in the defensive end and is good at clearing the puck out of the zone, something that the Rangers haven’t been doing well lately. However, I don’t like the deal. We add another veteran that is way past his prime, and we give up a mid-round pick in a very strong draft. Not all picks turn into NHL players, but I would have kept the pick and tried for someone younger. But that is only my opinion.
- The Rangers activated Mike Richter from injured reserve yesterday, thus Vitali Yeremeyev was re-assigned to Hartford, as he will be participating in the upcoming AHL all-star game. I plan on watching that game and will give a report on how Yeremeyev plays. (Tomas Kloucek is also going to be playing in the all-star game).
- With the acquistion of Gusarov, the Rangers sent down Bert Robertsson to Hartford, but first he had to clear waivers. Now this move really ticks me off. Two weeks ago when Kloucek was called up, Robertsson was going to be sent down until the Rangers found out he would have to clear waivers and they didn’t want to risk losing him, so they sent Manny Malhotra down. Now 2 weeks later, they send Robertsson down anyway. Malhotra could have been playing for us these past 2 weeks, and he probably would have done a better job than a lot of guys, especially Valeri Kamensky, who has been horrible backchecking this season. Geez, I would love to be GM for a day 😉
- Dale Purinton has also been sent down to Hartford for a two-week conditioning stint. I liked Purinton when the season started, but now my liking for him has really disappeared. He’s basically just an enforcer and doesn’t bring much to the table defensively. There still may be some hope for him, but if Sather can get a 3rd or 4th round pick for Dale, I’d jump on it. With Kloucek already in New York and Mottau to be there soon, Purinton will be towards the bottom in the depth chart.
- The proposed Malhotra for Brind’amour deal, if there was any truth to it, is likely dead now as Brind’amour injured his knee in the Hurricanes 4-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday. The Hurricanes have stated Brind’amour will “optimistically miss 2 weeks”. The sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to the Wayne Gretzky partnership has now been given an extension of 45 days to get the deal done. A lot of sources are saying when Gretzky takes over, 1 of Keith Tkachuk or Jeremy Roenick will be moved, and likely goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and defenseman Keith Carney as well. Sather has said that this has been holding up the league. Now what I get out of that is he likely has a deal already agreed upon with Phoenix. Until next time…