On the very 1st day of the free agent period Bobby Holik (ex.Whalers and Devils) was brought in for an astronomical contract in the neighborhood of 9 million per, this was followed a few days later by the formerly most hated player in the NHL by every team with the exception of the one he played for…Darius Kasparitis(ex.NYI,Pit,Col) to a 6 year deal. Mike Richter was resigned after Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour signed quickly elsewhere. Glen Sather`s hands were tied and rolled the dice that read “Mike Richter over Bryon Dafoe”.
Later Bill Guerin and Tony Amonte found new homes in Dallas and Phoenix respectively and the Rangers went for a few journeymen in Teddy Donato and Vladimir Cherbaturkin that could at best push the 4th line/4th unit guys while at worst offering the Hartford Wolfpack seasoned players. Kris Oliwa was acquired and signed as well as free agent Ranger Dale Purinton.
With the non-signings of Amonte and Guerin the Rangers roster appears set to see other moves to bolster the defense via deals rather than the system (f.e Mike Mottau). With the exception of Tomas Kloucek it is likely that no other Rangers AHL or Junior prospect will earn any ice time… and with the possible arrival of Derek Morris out of Calgary in a rumored deal for Petr Nedved, Kloucek`s ice time may be limited if the likes of Dave Karpa and Sylvain Lefebrve are still around come October. However the forward positions look like their may be atleast some temporary work for players like Rico Fata and Jamie Lundmark. Garth Murray I believe is still a year away from a shot at ice time. Lundmark has been rumored to be headed for a look at the wing. Then again the center spot may open if Nedved is dealt and Messier is willing to play the no.3 wing or 4 center. Roman Lyashenko played super in the World Championships and may push Rem Murray for ice at no.4.
Another possibility is the potential deal involving Sandy McCarthy who is at highest value ever. BUT McCarthy is a dressing room favorite and will likely remain but this still leaves competition for spots and at a greater level than seen in years. And another more likely probability is that Mike Mottau maybe dealt perhaps in a deal with Petr Nedved for a Morris type and another player which could equal greater opportunities for Kloucek and maybe even Fedor Tyutin(likely a year away from a serious bid). Matthew Barnaby who played well when healthy will be pushed by the up and coming Mikael Samuelsson who will look for more offensive trys this season, if one falls this may mean ice time for a Wolf Pack graduate to be. Radek Dvorak`s injury may keep him shelved for a month to start the season thus a cameo appearance by a prospect or the likes of Ted Donato is likely…even in a reduced role this can be beneficial to a Fata, Murray or even Roman Lyashenko. The rest of the summer will tell.
At the Rangers rookie camp former NHLer and now Wolf Pack head coach(new) Ryan McGill will for the 1st along with his coaching staff (Nicky Fotiu) be able to see 30 of the Rangers and perhaps Wolf Pack`s future players. This camp allows the Rangers staff to pick out the odd 2 or 3 youngsters that will be invited to the big camp and to evaluate the newest picks of the Rangers from the 2002 Entry Draft.
Other news and notes: Kenny Gernander the Wolf Pack captain is back for another go around after signing a new deal with the Rangers. Gernander had 18 goals and 49 points in 75 contests in 2001-02. The Pack also added several players including stay at home d-man Craig Weller out of Kootenay of the WHL, Jeff State out of Merrimack(HE), and Nils Ekman whom the Rangers acquired from Tampa Bay last season. Ekman will push for a spot in New York.
Until next time, keep an eye on the news and one on the hockeysfuture.com website!