Training Camp is about to start for the newly revamped New York Rangers.
News and Notes:
The Rangers finally cut ties with Scott Fraser. The organization had hoped
for another Adam Graves type player but he did not develop in New York or
Hartford as they hoped. His contract was bought out, but not before Neil
Smith offered him to Chicago for Doug Gilmour or anything. Fraser may try
out with Chicago but is also being sought out by many European teams. Fraser
had 28gp-2-4-6p totals in New York last season.
Now a look at Questions and Youth up front.
The No. 2 center slot as of now has been handed to Manny Malhotra by the
media. However John Muckler is a stickler for factoring in youth to such
high stress positions. Malhotra last year averaged 6 minutes per game
and mostly at the no. 4 spot. Although Malhotra showed many that he can play
at this level, he was instructed to add some
size to his already hulking 6-3 215 frame during the offseason. However
Coach Muckler has entertained the prospect of dropping Adam Graves to no. 2 center, or Todd Harvey (who played center during part of his junior career). But many believe Graves is best suited for wing, as he is one of the premier grit players in the NHL today. Harvey has yet to prove that he can withstand a full NHL season,
due to his crash style, small frame, and injuries that have cut short his seasons thusfar. Finally with the signing of former 20 goal scorer Tim Taylor, presumably for no. 3 duty, the Rangers arent doing too badly at center. The fourth slot is open with candidates such as Mike York, Derek Armstrong and even Ken Gernander, although Gernander will probably remain in Hartford for the duration of his career. Former prospect Brian Swanson was signed as a free agent in the offseason by San Jose.
The question of youth always comes up when talking about the Rangers. When a youth
movement comes, it seems to be more on the lines of signing a free agent that is
slightly younger than what is available in the system. With the loss of Niklas Sundstrøm and goalie Daniel Cloutier, the Rangers had to replace
youth with youth. Picking up much heralded Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark
in the entry draft, the Rangers gained a few years in youth although many expect Lundmark to stay in juniors for another season. Brendl has been passed the torch and will probably earn Malhotra 98-99 minutes but may be given the chance to shine if he has a strong showing in the preseason. Also set to play a role for the 99-00 Rangers are new signees Jan Hlavac, Tomas Kloucek and Milan Hnilinka.
Jan Hlavac, former Islanders pick and then Calgary Flame had a strong showing at
the recent World Championships in Norway, attended by Rangers G.M.
Neil Smith. Hlavac scored 5 goals and added 5 helpers in leading the
Czech Republic to the gold medal. In the net was International hero…Milan
Hnilinka, also recent signee by Smith. Although expected to head to Hartford,
Hnilinka may just beat out Kirk McLean (recent free agent signee) for the
no.2 job. Hnilinka and Hlavac are two of the most respected international
players outside of the NHL.
Hlavac should be able to play right away and should have
a great impact on this club.
Outside of the current draftees, Swede Johan Whitehall who played a bit
last year in New York, and signed a one year deal. Whitehall, 6-3 215, will
compete for a job on the wing with Eric Lacroix and unsigned Mike Knuble.
Whitehall plays a similar style to recent Rangers-Hartford departee Johan
Lindbom but is a little more gifted with the hands. Mike York, who had a
short audition at Hartford, will also compete for a spot – most likely at No. 2
center – although he is small he is a fine skater and has great instincts.
Daniel Goneau will compete for a spot as will P.J. Stock, however many believe their shot at the NHL with the Rangers is about over. Stefan Cherneski will be in camp but his progress was limited to 11 games in
Hartford due to various knee injuries.