The New York Rangers began the 1999 Exhibition season splitting their first two games. In Game one, Free Agent Signee Steve Duchesne broke a 1-1 tie early in the second period to guide Detroit to a 3-1 win over the Rangers. The loss did not overshadow Theoren Fleury, as he scored his first goal in a Rangers jersey at 3:54 of the first period off a pass from Valeri Kamensky. The Rangers however managed just one shot in the third period.
Game 2 featured some offense from more of the Rangers newly signed players. Stephan Quintal scored two goals and Valeri Kamensky added a goal and an assist. Mike Knuble sent a pass to Quintal, whom one timed his first goal in a Rangers jersey. Valeri Kamensky tipped a shot by defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre for his first goal as a Ranger. Quintal made it 4-1 with his second goal and Adam Graves added his first 1:12 later to ice the game for the Blue Shirts. Goalies Milan Hnilinka and J.F.Labbe played superb hockey combining for 20 saves and the win. Kim Johnsson again played tremendous hockey adding two assists. The Swedish import is moving closer to securing the no.5 or 6 spot.
The Rangers re-assigned several players to start the season in Hartford including Defensive Prospects…Wes Jarvis and Burke Henry. The suprise move was Johan Witehall whom appears to be ready for the NHL, but is well down the deep list at wing. Suprising free agent signee Brandon Reid(F) was assigned to Hartford as were Mike Harder(C), John Namestnikov(D), Jason Labarbera(G), Dale Purinton(D), Francois Fortier(C), Ken Gernander(C), Randy Copely(RW). A complete list will be available shortly.
Players making noise include Tomas Kloucek(D) who has been playing surperb defensive hockey to date. He is battling Jason Doig and Kim Johnsson for the final spots on the roster. Brad Smyth has been playing some banging hockey and has impressed John Muckler, as has Derek Armstrong who looks to take the role of 4th line checking center. Mike York has impressed, but John Muckler is not a fan of small players, and has questioned his strength and size, along with his ability to withstand the riggors of NHL hockey. Sylvain Lefebvre, to date, has not been impressive, but with the contract he has signed he will be in New York.
Rumun Ndur continues to wait for word on whether his fresh approach to the existing offer will be good enough to get another chance. It is more than likely that he may go the way of Eric Cairns and find himself in another city. Pavel Brendl and Jan Hlavac have been impressive at camp thus jamming the wings with more talented play. Darren Langdon looks to stay via default but can score the odd goal. Eric LaCroix has seen some quality ice time and looks to stick at no.4.
Next update at warrant.