Rangers Rumble: Busy Week

By Brandon LeBourveau

Dunham In; Richter Out

After meeting with two of North America’s leading neurologists, James Andrews of Chicago and Karen Johnston of Montreal, the decision was made that the last game Mike Richter played, a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on November 5th, would be the last he would play this season. In that game, Richter’s head collided with the knee of Edmonton forward Todd Marchant during a goal-mouth scramble late in the third period. Although the hit didn’t seem out of the ordinary at the time, Richter has not been the same since. Once the team, and more importantly GM Glen Sather, found out that Richter was done for the season, he pulled the trigger on a deal that saw him acquire goaltender Mike Dunham from the Nashville Predators. In return for Dunham, the Rangers sent forward Rem Murray, young defenseman Tomas Kloucek and prospect Marek Zidlicky to Nashville. At the time, it was a very shocking move to say the least.

Mike Dunham is a proven number one goaltender in the NHL, despite struggling this season with the Predators, who are currently the last-place team in the entire league. He now gives the Rangers a comfortable goaltending tandem, joining 19-year-old Dan Blackburn between the pipes. The coaching staff has said that there is no number one goaltender and that both will get their fair share of playing time. Blackburn has been carrying the load for the team since Mike Richter went down, starting in all 17 straight games. He was pulled for the first time on Wednesday when he looked fatigued and shaky during the first period, which saw him allow to soft goals against the Chicago Blackhawks. Johan Holmqvist replaced him at the start of the second period, and the Rangers’ went on to lose by a final score of 4-3.
Rem Murray was a serviceable forward who was playing on a line with Eric Lindros, but he was expendable. Murray, who was acquired at least season’s trade deadline along with Tom Poti for Mike York and a draft pick, had six goals and six assists for 12 points in 32 games, including 4 penalty minutes. Tomas Kloucek was one of the top prospects in the organization, but his development has been slow and he has not improved the way the Rangers’ thought he would by now. After an extremely impressive rookie season with the Rangers in 2000-01, Kloucek tore his ACL that April and was not the same player the following season. He played in 52 games for the Rangers last season, but spent the entire year up until this point in Hartford this season. Kloucek played in 20 games for the Wolf Pack this year, totaling 7 points on 3 goals and 4 assists, along with 102 penalty minutes. His play had been very inconsistent and he was coming off a concussion that kept him out for an extended period of time.

If the Rangers felt that Kloucek would be the player they envisioned he would be just a few short years ago, he would never have been dealt. However, they felt it was best to move him now while he still had some value. Marek Zidlicky is a 25-year-old Czech defenseman who is currently one of the top defensemen in the SM-Liiga, the top league in Finland. He was drafted as an over-ager by the Rangers in the 6th round of the 2001 draft. They attempted to sign him the past two years, but were rejected each time by Zidlicky. Although the reasons why are not known, it is believed that it came down to a difference in money and a guarantee that Zidlicky would not be sent to the minors. Glen Sather apparently was unwilling to give in to those demands. He has been compared to a more physical version of Brian Rafalski, and now it is up to the Predators to sign him and bring him over to North America. The winner of this deal will depend on Tomas Kloucek and whether or not he can develop into a player for the Nashville Predators.

Dunham arrived in New York early on Friday and practiced with the team, but head coach Bryan Trottier has confirmed that Blackburn will get the start, his 18th straight, Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto. Dunham is expected to make his Rangers’ debut Monday at home against the San Jose Sharks. Dunham, who was born in Johnson City, New York, has good size at 6’3 and 200 lbs and is 30-years-old. He is signed through 2004-05 and has played with the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators during his career. He has played for Team USA at three Olympic tournaments, and was the back-up to Mike Richter at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City Utah.


Rangers Acquire Josh Green

The Rangers announced a second trade on Thursday after they acquired Mike Dunham from Nashville, this time acquiring 25-year-old forward Josh Green from the Edmonton Oilers for a conditional draft pick in 2004. At 6’4 and 215 lbs, Green has the size and the skill to be a pretty good player in the NHL. His problem, however, has been consistency and staying healthy.

In 20 games this season for the Oilers, Green tallied no goals and only 2 assists, including 12 minutes in penalties. He was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd round (30th overall) of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. He played junior hockey in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Swift Current Broncos and the Portland Winter Hawks from 1993-94 to 1997-98. He played one season with the Kings, 1998-99, scoring 1 goal and 3 assists in 27 games. He was dealt that summer to the New York Islanders in the blockbuster deal that saw Zigmund Palffy head to LA. Green would spend one season with the Islanders in 1999-00, tallying 26 points on 12 goals and 14 assists in 49 games, before being dealt yet again, this time with Eric Brewer and a second round pick in 2000 to the Oilers for all-star defenseman Roman Hamrlik. Green had been with the Oilers ever since.

With forward Georges Laraque coming off of Injured Reserve, Green cleared waivers and was prepared for a demotion to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, the Oilers’ top minor league affiliate, before Rangers’ GM Glen Sather decided to take him off their hands. Despite being close to home — Green grew up in Camrose, Alberta — he never was able to find his niche and couldn’t stay healthy for long periods of time. Sather is hoping that all Green needs is a change of scenery, and with Rem Murray dealt to Nashville, there is a spot open for Green to come in and get some playing time. Could he be that big winger that Eric Lindros hasn’t had since he’s been here? Perhaps, but first of all he needs to regain his confidence and stay healthy. Time will tell.


It’s About Time

It took him 54 games, but 22-year-old Rico Fata finally scored his first NHL goal this past Wednesday against Jocelyn Thibault and the Chicago Blackhawks at the Garden. After Petr Nedved cut the Blackhawks’ lead in half with 4:47 remaining in the third period, Rico Fata one-timed a beautiful cross-ice feed from Sandy McCarthy past Jocelyn Thibault only 1:58 later, bringing the Rangers’ within one at 4-3. The goal seemed to wake up the Rangers, who applied constant pressure in the offensive zone for the remaining three minutes but couldn’t get another one by Thibault. Petr Nedved had the best chance to tie the game, when he found himself with the puck on his stick and a wide-open net with only a handful of seconds remaining. Nedved missed the open net as time ticked down, notching the victory for the Blackhawks.

As for Fata, it’s about time he got the monkey off his back. For a guy who has scored 87 goals in the AHL over the last three seasons, including a career-high 35 last year with the Hartford Wolf Pack, it’s hard to figure out why his first NHL score didn’t come sooner. Lack of ice-time and lack of offensive opportunities were probably the key factors, considering Fata has averaged about six minutes of ice time a night on the fourth line. Although it is obvious Rico won’t be the high-scoring forward he was in juniors and the minors, his speed and hockey sense are valuable to the Rangers. They envision him becoming a Kris Draper-type forward as he matures and develops.


Canadian Juniors

NameTeamLeaguePositionGPGAPTSPIM+/-
Ryan HollwegMedicine Hat TigersWHLCenter41128-5
Bryce LampmanKamloops BlazersWHLDefense271171834-6
Rory RawlykPrince Albert RaidersWHLDefense29591424-7
Vancouver GiantsWHLDefense401110
Leonid ZvachkinGuelph StormOHLDefense2502234-1
Shawn CollymoreQuebec RempartsQMJHLCenter311413279-3
Petr PreucilDrummondville VoltigeursQMJHLCenter2711172844-5


U.S College

NameTeamLeaguePositionGPGAPTSPIM+/-
Lee FalardeauMichigan StateCCHACenter152248-7
Nate GueninOhio StateCCHADefense1602226+5
Mike WalshNotre DameCCHALeft Wing10002+2
Dominic MooreHarvardECACCenter13791610
Rob FlynnHarvardECACRight Wing81016
Danny EberlyRPIECACDefense17641022
Joey CrabbColorado CollegeWCHARight Wing112136
Nathan MartzNew HampshireHockeyEastCenter156282Even


U.S. Juniors

NameTeamLeaguePositionGPGAPTSPIM+/-
Jake TaylorGreen Bay GamblersUSHLDefense2343772-5


Minors

NameTeamLeaguePositionGPGAPTSPIM+/-
Jamie LundmarkHartford Wolf PackAHLForward16771414
New York RangersNHLForward140114-6
Garth MurrayHartford Wolf PackAHLLeft Wing19371049
John TrippHartford Wolf PackAHLRight Wing261562138
Mike MottauHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense191111212
Matt KinchHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense1788
Jeff StateHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense1811256
Charlotte CheckersECHLDefense700019+1
Benoit DusablonHartford Wolf PackAHLCenter25681428
Layne UlmerHartford Wolf PackAHLCenter213694
Nils EkmanHartford Wolf PackAHLLeft Wing11491312
Bobby AndrewsHartford Wolf PackAHLCenter1604416
Patrick AufieroHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense131126
Charlotte CheckersECHLDefense82466
David InmanCharlotte CheckersECHLCenter11120
Hartford Wolf PackAHLCenter131676
Dusty JamiesonCharlotte CheckersECHLLeft Wing19117189
Craig WellerCharlotte CheckersECHLDefense1012324
Hartford Wolf PackAHLDefense60004
Brandon CullenCharlotte CheckersECHLCenter2315688
NameTeamLeaguePositionGPWLTGAASave%SHO
Jason LabarberaHartford Wolf PackAHLGoalie158522.62.9171
Johan HolmqvistHartford Wolf PackAHLGoalie84222.08.9331
New York RangersNHLGoalie10103.08.8890
Charlotte CheckersECHLGoalie11002.00.9560
Scott MeyerHartford Wolf PackAHLGoalie51204.83.8370
Charlotte CheckersECHLGoalie10106.00.8460
Bryce WandlerCharlotte CheckersECHLGoalie80414.74.8200
Niklas SundbergCharlotte CheckersECHLGoalie8603.27.8900
Brandon SneeMuskegon FuryUHLGoalie73302.99.9000


Europe

NameTeamLeaguePositionGPGAPTSPIM+/-
Marcus JonasenHammarby IFSweden Jrs.Right Wing161071718+9
Pontus PetterströmSkellefteå AIKSwe. AllsvNorraRight Wing26951412+13
Stefan LundqvistVästerås IK Ungdom Swe. AllsvSödraRight Wing25186246-9
Petter HenningTingsrydSweden 3rd TierCenter137714
Arto LaatikainenEspoo BluesSM-Liiga (Finland)Defense3015616+6
Kim HirschovitsHIFKSM-Liiga (Finland)Center2932514+1
Tomi KallarsonIlves TampereSM-Liiga (Finland)Defense10000-2
Juri StalsWasaFinlandLeft Wing1532516
Petr PruchaPardubiceCzech RepublicCenter173362
Martin RichterSparta PrahaCzech RepublicDefense1915643+6
Premsyl DubenDukla JihlavaCzech 2nd TierDefense3022-4
Sven HelfensteinEHC Biel/BienneSwiss Nationaliga BCenter30000
SC BernSwitzerlandCenter2001112
Ilja GorokhovYaroslavl TorpedoRussiaDefense190226
NameTeamLeaguePositionGPWLTGAASave%SHO
Henrik LundqvistVästra Frölunda HCSELGoalie151.65.9433
Johan AsplundBrynäs IFSELGoalie43.45.8610


NHL

NameTeamLeaguePositionGPGAPTSPIM+/-
Rico FataNew York RangersNHLCenter171340Even
Hartford Wolf PackAHLCenter986146+4