Rangers General Manager Glen Sather traded another veteran player today, this time dealing away center Tim Taylor to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 25 year old left wing Nils Ekman and 22 year old left wing Kyle Freadrich. This was a solid move for the team, as Taylor would likely have been bought before Midnight tonight, the deadline for teams to buy out players at two-thirds of their salary.
Nils Ekman is a skilled Swede who is a defensive specialist. Although he is considered small at 5 foot 11, he plays a tough physical game and tries to get under the skin of his opponents. He has the tools to be a permanent NHLer, but he will have to impress the Rangers in camp to earn his spot on the roster. As for Freadrich, he is one of the biggest players in the history of the NHL, at 6 foot 7 and 260 pounds. However, as is the case with most big players, Freadrich is an awful skater and even courses at a skating school couldn’t help him. Freadrich is considered mainly a 4th line tough guy who will stick up for his teammates and drop the gloves often, however he doesn’t have much offensive skills. He will likely play in the minors this season, but may see a game or two in the NHL because of injuries.
In another deal, Glen Sather sent 24 year old left winger Jeff Ulmer and 24 year old defenseman Jason Doig to the Ottawa Senators for 27 year old defenseman Sean Gagnon and reportedly “future considerations”. Gagnon is a physical defenseman who likes to drop the gloves, but he has been a career minor leaguer throughout his career. Maybe Slats felt he wanted to strengthen the Wolf Pack, but why deal two kids under 25 who could possibly be future NHLers with some development in the minors?
In a third trade, the Rangers acquired 24 year old winger Dave Duerden from the Florida Panthers for future considerations. Earlier in the season, the Wolf Pack acquired Duerden from the Louisville Panthers (Florida’s farm club) for Mike Harder, and after seeing Duerden play with the Wolf Pack, the Rangers decided to acquire him from Florida. A big winger who crashes the net and bangs around in the corners, Duerden has the potential to be a 3rd/4th liner in the NHL.
Earlier in the week, the Rangers came to terms with 25 year old goaltender Scott Meyer, who just finished a four year career at St. Cloud State University of the WCHA. He posted a 25-8-1 record in 36 games last season, along with a 2.23 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. This is clearly a depth move, and Meyer will get an invite to training camp to battle it out with the other Rangers’s goaltenders, such as Johan Holmqvist, Dan Blackburn, Jason Labarbera.
The New York Post is reporting the Rangers will not make a qualifying offer to defenseman Brad Brown, who will now become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday. Teams are required to make a contract offer of %10 more than their previous salary to upcoming restricted free agents to retain their rights. According to the post, Sather felt a salary of about $800,000 for a defenseman who won’t play a big role with the club wasn’t worth it.
Recent Rangers draftees Juris Stals, Leonid Zhvachin and Fedor Tyutin were all drafted in the CHL Import Draft which was completed this week. All 55 Canadian Junior League teams, from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL take part in a 2 round draft where they have the ability to draft players from Europe. Most of the players drafted don’t wind up coming over to North America to play in the junior leagues, but it is a risk worth taking. Juris Stals, drafted in the 9th round of the 2001 draft by the Rangers, was selected by the Sarnia Sting of the OHL 23rd overall, while Fedor Tyutin (2nd rounder in ’01) was drafted 29th overall by the Guelph Storm of the OHL, as was defenseman Leonid Zhvachin, selected 52nd overall by Guelph (was an 8th rounder in 2001). While it is uncertain if either player will come over to North America to play in juniors, it would be interesting if one of them does, as that would give the Rangers a prospect from the OHL, which they haven’t had in a few years. They have drafted mainly from the WHL, while also selecting a few guys from the QMJHL such as Daniel Goneau, Christian Dube and Shawn Collymore.