Rangers at the trade deadline

By Brandon LeBourveau

Pavel Bure comes to the Rangers, along with the Panthers 2nd round pick this spring (2002), in return for veteran defenseman Igor Ulanov, young prospect Filip Novak, the Rangers’ 1st and 2nd round selections in 2002, as well as a 4th round selection in 2003.

Filip Novak, a 19-year-old defenseman currently playing junior hockey with the Regina Pats of the WHL, is the best player that the Panthers have received in this deal. Novak was originally drafted by the Rangers in the 2nd round (64th overall) of the 2000 Draft and is in his third and final year of junior hockey. (To view a lengthy article on Novak, click here) A swift skating defenseman with excellent offensive ability and the ability to rush the puck up the ice and make the important first pass out of the zone, Novak has progressed well over the last few years and has put on about 25 pounds since being drafted. However, with young defenseman such as Tomas Kloucek, Mike Mottau and Fedor Tyutin in the system, the Rangers deemed Novak expendable in such a deal as this one. Novak has been unable to take his game from about a number 3 defenseman to a more elite role, and that could also have factored in to the Rangers’ decision to move him. Also according to some whispers, the Panthers originally wanted Fedor Tyutin in this deal but Glen Sather quickly turned that scenario down.

As for the draft picks that have been swapped, the Panthers will receive the Rangers 1st round pick this June. That selection figures to be around the middle of the first round. In a draft that is being considered a weak one, the loss of this pick may not hurt the Rangers as much as some would think. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forward Rick Nash are the clear cut “creams of the crop” this year, followed by a few other solid players, such as goaltender Kari Lehtonen, forward Scottie Upshall, and defensemen Joni Pitkanen, Anton Babchuk and Ryan Whitney. Outside of the Top 5, maybe even the Top 10, there are a lot of question marks in this draft and the majority of the players will likely wind up with limited NHL roles if they make it that far at all. The Rangers swapped 2nd rounders with the Panthers, meaning the Rangers will receive the Panthers’ selection (likely around 32 or 33 overall) and the Panthers will receive the Rangers’ pick (likely 45th to 50th overall). The Rangers also added in a 4th round pick in 2003, leaving them with no 3rd or 4th round picks for that draft, thanks to deals for Eric Lindros and Bure.

Early returns on the deal that went down last week with the Dallas Stars are looking good. If you missed it, the Rangers dealt 21-year-old center Manny Malhotra and 21-year-old left winger Barrett Heisten to Dallas in return for winger Martin Rucinsky and 22-year-old center Roman Lyashenko. Manny Malhotra was never going to be more than a 3rd line banger. John Muckler saw this three years ago and everyone bashed him for putting down a kid who was only 18-19 years old at the time. Barrett Heisten has had his share of problems developing this season, although many factors likely have contributed to the poor play. After a successful training camp, Heisten stayed with the team for the first ten games of the regular season. However, the Rangers staff quickly saw that as he played more and more games he started losing confidence and made less and less of an impact. They sent him down to the minors and it took him a little while to adjust.

Right when everyone thought he was on the upswing and was going to start producing, Barrett’s dad unfortunately passed away. That didn’t help at all, as Barrett flew home to Alaska and stayed there for a period of time until he could finally get his mind back into the game of hockey.

Reunited with junior linemate Jamie Lundmark over the last few weeks, the two starting clicking and Heisten began to produce. However, Dallas came knocking and Glen Sather felt Heisten was worth dealing away.

The Rangers have received some excellent play from Roman Lyashenko. Lyashenko has moved around between lines and has played with a number of linemates, including Theo Fleury and Sandy McCarthy. The Rangers have been pleased with Lyashenko’s play and he scored his first goal as a Ranger yesterday in a 5-3 loss at the Garden to the Detroit Red Wings and Dominik Hasek. After Lyashenko picked off a Detroit defenseman at the side of the net, he drove in front and chipped a loose puck over the shoulder of a sprawling Hasek.