Reflections: A look at some Rangers Prospects

By pbadmin

As the season passes the mid point, hopes of a playoff birth grow with the better play each day of our beloved New York Rangers. However with many players in key positions hitting the wrong side of their careers one has to ask where the future is. With this years “successful” draft taking Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark in the first round and later taking Dave Inman, Pat Aufiero and Johan Asplund later, what about the other drafts, one`s that showed so much promise and turned out, well not that promising.

Over the years, the Rangers have taken players from everywhere, Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland, Russia and so on, some have played well, others have contributed, others have become stars, other`s… well we tend to forget those… From the times of Steve Vickers and Rick Middleton to Mark Morrison and Rudolf Vercik, the Rangers have never been able to find that Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemeiux, Wayne Gretzky or even Rob Blake. With the exception of Brian Leetch, and some jewels and in the later rounds many Rangers picks just do not stick (this not uncommon in modern NHL). Ulf Dahlen, slow, but contributed before being dealt, Terry Carkner…yes the same, played a handful of games, was beaten up by Philly and ended up a regular in Florida after a cup of coffee Detroit. Dave Gagner, who suffered through the same situation as Manny Malhotra needed a change before turning into a 30 goal scorer, Lucien Deblois who could score but could not pass, had a couple runs on broadway. Rick “Nifty” Middleton, was a bright prospect before being dealt for Ken Hodge Sr.(Boston) and turning into a possible Hall of Famer in Boston. Gord Walker and Mark Morrison, who ended up tearing the British League up and opened the Olympics to “professional” competition… Kjell Samuelsson…who know how old he was when drafted late, late one day, he played and played well for everyone else.

During the past years we have heard the story of Jeff Brown, perhaps Brian Leetch`s successor… Brown after being drafted fell quickly in value, some injuries, some problems adjusting, whatever…he has toiled with the Canadian National Team and Charlotte Checkers of ECHL, once the graveyard of broken NHL dreams. Brown (23-3-8-11) with Charlotte has been promoted to Hartford on injury recall, not because his stellar play…In his three games with Hartford, no one is sure if he was really there or not. Even with today`s ever expanding NHL, perhaps the coming of Tupelo`s NHL club and another club in Hartford will propel him into the NHL, but I doubt it… Brown is a loss…

Darcy Werenka, who can forget seeing him standing next to Neil Smith…the next Brian Leetch… after putting up 17g and 75 p in 1992…Werenka spent three seasons with Binghamton…finally peaking in his final year with (17-29-46) totals… the next season he was cast off and signed with Chicago of the IHL. Since, he has seen time in Quebec (AHL), Vienna, Austria, Houston, Atlanta(IHL) and now Utah. Another fallen star.

Stefan Cherneski, the bruising Cam Neely clone at 6.00 200, has been saddled with knee injuries that have almost crippled this up and comer. While all hope is not lost, this bruiser has been able to play 11 games over the past two seasons in Hartford of the AHL. 43 goals in `97 with Brandon, everyone jumped on this bandwagon only to see a line of knee operations dim his star. For me… I think we will never see Cherneski in the NHL… another victim of a rough sport.

Rick Bennett, a monster, a Cam Neely clone again…. at 6.04 225, this guy actually made it to the NHL with the Rangers. His career will likely end with 15gp 1-1-2 totals. He has been at all levels from the NCAA, NHL, and even ECHL and Roller Hockey. His work ethic questioned, his attitude and style… Watching this soul play now…is almost funny… see you in men`s league…. but he has had the taste that many of us dream of the NHL.

Others….like Rob Zamuner have a made career in the league after the Rangers, same with Steven Rice (Hartford-NHL) and then there is Jeff Bloemberg who can forget the pummeling he took against the Islanders basically ending a bright career, stops in the AHL, IHL and even with Tampa(NHL) are on his resume. Mark Tinordi, never really given a chance in New York was one of the best in the NHL, but his star has fallen..but atleast is rose… not like Guy Larose, and Pår Djoos(star in Sweden)…

In simple, to be drafted is an honor, to play for an organization is another, to make the NHL for a cup of coffee is another yet, to play for years in the NHL is a true dream come true. Now with the 2000 draft coming upon us, we must look at 98 and 99 and say…wow.. I wonder which players here we will be saying the same thing about… hopefully not Brendl, Lundmark, Aufiero, Holmqvist or even Cherneski….. It`s a tough game…. on the ice and off…

Other infamous players…would have to include Doug Wickenheiser (god rest his soul), Fred Arthur(Whalers) and poor Gord Kluzak(Boston).