After a month of nearly horrible hockey for the New York Rangers, it is grading time. Being the New York Rangers, this will be short as there are few rookies. So we will add grades to some other players as well, most of them 2nd year and those in the AHL, at Hartford.
Mike York 5.10 170 (USA)
York has taken full opportunity of being the No. 2 center by default. York possesses a nice touch, hard shot, and never say die work ethic. York has played well through the first month of the season, and is entrenched at No. 2 but receives No. 1 center minutes. York, now on a line with Adam Graves and Theo Fleury, has only helped bring up the play of the two struggling veterans. As of now, Mike York is the top center on this New York Rangers club.
Kim Johnsson 6.01 188 (SWE)
Johnsson came in to the camp as an unknown commodity. Being the last pick in the draft, Johnsson went out to prove something. He played as Sweden`s best defender at the World Championships in Norway catching the eye of General Manager Neil Smith. Johnsson still makes the rookie mistake, but has shown that he can hit, skate and pass. A solid team player, Johnsson has moved steadily up the depth chart and is more valuable than anyother Rangers defender this side of Brian Leetch. Johnsson plays like a seasoned veteran and if he is kept in New York through these worried times, he will be a top NHL defender. At this point, Johnsson is the best Rangers’ defenseman in my book. He needs about 15 pounds to his frame, but that will come.
Jan Hlavac 6.01 185 (CZE)
Hlavac shined at the past Worlds, as did Johnsson. He has seen more and more ice time lately, and has responded with assists here and there while playing with countryman Petr Nedved. Hlavac, given the ice time, has the skills to be a top forward in New York. However, John Muckler may have his hand forced in either dealing Hlavac or sending him to the AHL, as Broadway needs a place for Joe Murphy and another high priced star via a trade.
Jason Doig 6.03 230 (CAN)
Coming out of the Winnipeg-Phoenix system, many had high hopes for Doig. However, his value never seemed to increase. After being dealt to the Rangers last season for Stan Neckar, Doig had yet to dress for a game in a Rangers jersey. Finally with the horrid play of Kevin Hatcher, Doig, in great shape, came to play against Chicago and played well and physical which is something the Rangers have not had since Ulf Samuelsson. Doig has now played in two straight and provides a physical touch with a nice passing ability. Doig should earn more and more minutes, but again, John Muckler may be forced to rest Doig in exchange for the horrid, orange cone, Kevin Hatcher.
GRADE: INC, (A- in 2 games).
Milan Hnilicka 6.02 190 (CZE)
An international star outside of the NHL, Milan played super hockey in the preseason almost forcing the waiving of Kirk McLean. Milan has played well in Hartford after a rough one game stint in New York. He is one to hold on to.
Manny Malhotra 6.03 215 (CAN)
Manny, Manny! After being reamed by Coach Muckler and unproductive with 4-5 mins per game of ice time, Manny may be moved to a club for that, yet again, high priced star that will flicker in New York. Manny has seen more bench time this year than last, if that is possible. Malhotra has not been given the chance to play for many reasons. One being Muckler, another being high priced veterans and another… Muckler.
Tomas Kloucek-Hartford B+
Johan Witehall-Hartford B+
Dale Purinton-Hartford A
PJ Stock-Hartford A-
Wes Jarvis-Hartford B-
Burke Henry-Hartford B-