The Rangers Net Future: Who is it?
Bryce Wandler is a kid who was passed up in the NHL draft since first eligible back in ’97. He has descent size and good ability. Sometimes it takes a trade to get a kid going and in Wandler’s case his trade to the Swift Current Broncos was one that possibly set forward in motion a potential career. He does have talent but has been on a rather mediocre at best team. He is a signing that doesn’t hurt the Rangers and at the very least gives them some depth. You have to remember that Dan Cloutier was the goalie of the future and so now the Rangers are trying to get some options out there for the future.
It’s hard to say where exactly a kid like Wandler fits in. Labarbara has been good for horrible teams. Pay no attention to the win loss records or the GAA, the key is the save percentage and in the case of Labarbara it’s always been solid. Mike Richter’s numbers don’t catch the eye but everyone know how good he has been, it’s the same with Labarbara. Holmqvist has all the tools to be a number one goalie but one questions whether or not he wants to come to North America. What he does depends on how set the Rangers are in the net. McLean is a solid veteran who will serve good as an interim backup. Labbe was just a signing for the farm club, not seen as NHL material, plus he is already getting ready to turn 28. Hnilicka is already going to be 27. Both goalies are minor league types, not NHL prospects.
The problem with the Rangers is they only started drafting well around 1997 so all their prospects are the same age. Whoever gets the nod as Rangers future goalie is going to need at least a year in the minors and probably more like 2 or 3. That gives McLean’s contract just enough time to run out. The hope is by the time Richter is ready to exit, that one of them will be ready. By guess it would be Holmqvist or Labarbara only because those kids who aren’t drafted usually aren’t for a reason. Wandler could be the next Curtis Joseph or Ed Belfour type signing or he could fall in line with a long list of free agent signings who never make it. Time will tell, but he certainly has the ability.