Rangers acquire young grit

By Evan Andriopoulos
Glen Sather`s pick up of kids like Ryan Tobler a tough 220 pounder, international veteran via St.Louis Petr Smrek and NHL young journeyman Colin Forbes appears to be leading the Rangers to a restocking of inventory which in modern day sports management would lead us to believe something big may happen.

While it appears Sather has lost the opportunity to deal with Gretzky for that ever elusive Keith Tkachuk package there are still possibilities out there as it appears Sather has grown tired of waiting for the Brendls, Mottaus, Lundmarks and Yeremeyevs to jump up and say “I am ready…let me lead”… Sather appears to have offered the above named, ex.Yeremeyev in each and every deal for someone of value today and for the future. Even fan favorite and work horse Mike York has been mentioned in possible deals. But Sather keeps working at rebuilding Hartford of the AHL for a run at another AHL championship and maybe restocking the talent that has not yet been traded away.

The pick up of Guy Hebert could be either of two things… one, a move to give the Rangers a last effort at decency…or two, a move to push Kirk McLean out and Mike Richter to a stronger return next season. While stunting the growth of Yeremeyev, still a bright spot in the eyes of the scouts, Yeremeyev has been treated the same as was Milan Hnilinka before him…without any sign of defense. The system still features many bright prospects of which some may be dealt sooner than later…but those from Europe (Lundqvist and Asplund) the Rangers would get a better return by showcasing them to the NHL next season than to be dealt without knowing what they can do… and what they can bring in return.

With such a dismal season again nearly behind us we see the summer of again big signings…but the question is..will top notch players come here to play? A team with a losing tradition? Maybe yes…maybe no… but there have been a few bright spots. On the NHL level…Brian Leetch has regained much of his old form…Theo Fleury came back to life for a while and Mike Richter still showed he had “it”. On the prospects side…

Mike York:
Limited minutes, various linemates and various positions have not stopped him from working hard. However it appears that Low-Sather would rather have him somewhere else…Buffalo, Phoenix where ever… He shows signs of becoming a two way Tony Amonte or even moreso…Doug Weight, it would be a shame to lose him even for Mike “never happy” Peca.

Tomas Kloucek:
After a few rides from Hartford Kloucek is showing signs of being a solid long time NHL style defender. He bangs like a North American, and moves the puck like a Czech… a very bright spot in a sea of darkness.

Jan Hlavac:
Although a second year player…Hlavac shows the signs of stardom like he did last year and just as I thought he would have. While playing with the “only” productive line in New York Hlavac has moved the puck and is among the team leaders in goal scoring. A solid player that excites..a true keeper and bright spot.

Dale Purinton:
He has not played regularly but it is a comfort to Rangers fans and players knowing that he can be dressed to watch the backs of everyone else. I see two values to Dale… one he is not afraid… two…he can play defense and wing.

Vitali Yeremeyev:
Without seeing much of him… I refer to Milan Hnilinka…both have played behind a defense that looks more like a slice of Jarlsberg Cheese than a defense. Sometime in the AHL and Yeremeyev can still contribute to the future in New York.

Others that have seen ice…Brad Smyth, Derek Armstrong, Mike Mottau, Jeff Ulmer, Tony Tuzzolino, Jason Labarbera, Johan Holmqvist and so on… the jury is out. Ulmer appears to have a solid work ethic, Tuzzolino a great worker and a banger the rest… shows signs of possibility but without more ice…we will never know. The Smyth and Armstrong types have about worn out their love of Sather-Low as they have dominated at the AHL level and now will look for opportunities elsewhere including Europe.