Rangers 2000 draft evaluation

By Kevin Forbes

The New York Rangers started the 2000 NHL Entry Draft a little later then most teams. The Blueshirts had traded their first rounder in 2000 (8th overall, Nikita Alexeev), along with their 2000 3rd rounder (74th overall, Chicago’s Igor Radulov), forward Niklas Sundstrom and goalie Dan Cloutier, to Tampa Bay for the fourth overall pick and the privilege to select Pavel Brendl. Then they sent their 38th overall second round pick to Detroit, who used it to select Tomas Kopecky. New York received the 64th overall pick (also in the second round) and the 95th overall pick from the third round. That third rounder replaced the one they had traded to Tampa Bay that eventually found its way to Chicago, via San Jose. San Jose also acquired one of the Rangers fourth rounders (104th overall, Jon Disalvatore) in exchange for the Sharks 112th overall fourth rounder and their 143rd overall fifth rounder. The Rangers also went into the 2000 draft with a new General Manager. On June 1st, 2000, Glen Sather was chosen to succeed Neil Smith as the Rangers President and GM.

Three of the Rangers’ nine selections are still prospects and two of those prospects remain with the organization. Amongst the nine selections, there are only five games of NHL experience, all coming from one player, Dominic Moore. This averages out to less than one NHL game per pick, however, there are signs that the number will rise significantly in the coming years. Below are each of New York’s picks and how they have turned out so far.

Filip Novak, D – 2nd round, 64th overall (Regina Pats, WHL)
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Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games played: 0

At draft time, Novak was said to be a highly skilled offensive defenseman, who was a little undersized and a little soft. He was named Regina’s Rookie of the Year and played in the 2000 Top Prospects game. He made an appearance at the Rangers training camp later on that year and was so impressive that he was voted by local media as the best rookie in camp and awarded the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award. Upon returning to Regina, Novak stepped up his game, frequently paired with St Louis prospect, Barret Jackman. However, due to some confusion between Novak and his former Czech team, he wasn’t given permission to compete at the World Juniors. His first season after being drafted ended with Regina placing third in Memorial Cup competition after hosting the tournament.

Despite gaining plenty of muscle and playing a well rounded game, Novak again saw himself returned to the WHL for the 2001-02. He was one of the best defensemen in the WHL, however, that wasn’t good enough for New York to hold onto him. The emergence of Fedor Tyutin had made Novak expendable and he found his NHL rights being sent to sunny Florida at the 2002 trade deadline along with a collection of draft picks and veteran Igor Ulanov for Pavel Bure.

After a strong rookie year in the AHL with San Antonio, even being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team, Novak missed the entire 2003-04 season with a torn ligament in his ankle. He returned to the Rampage lineup for the 2004-05 season and although his production suffered from missing a year, it appears that he will soon be able to challenge for an NHL roster spot. He finds himself behind other young players such as Jay Bouwmeester and Lukas Krajicek in the Panthers depth chart, so it will be interesting to see if Novak is able to muscle his way onto a power play unit when he does make the jump.

Dominic Moore, D – 3rd round, 95th overall (Harvard University, NCAA)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games played: 5

Moore was drafted after his freshman year at Harvard University where he was playing with his two brothers, Mark and Steve. Moore was quick to impress and step out of his brothers’ shadow by establishing himself as a complete, hard-working player.

He ended his four-year tenure at Harvard in 2003 as team captain and was named the team’s top player. He led them to the ECAC finals that year and finished a college career that saw him score 146 points in 128 games.

Signed by the Rangers after graduation, Moore’s first year in professional hockey was considered a success and saw him play five games for the Blueshirts. He returned to Hartford again for the 2004-05 season, honing his skills during the NHL lockout. Moore’s potential appears to be a sound third-line player, although he does have a shot of breaking into the top six. The Rangers would prefer to see him move to the wing, where the team isn’t as deep, but one thing is certain: Dominic Moore will not be denied.

Premysl Duben, D – 4th round, 112th overall (Dukla Jihlava, Czech First League)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Duben wasn’t on most scouting lists when the Rangers picked him in the fourth round. Drafted from the Czech first league, Duben played part of the next year in the QMJHL with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He was unimpressive in his 41 games in North America and soon returned to the Czech Republic where he has remained ever since.

A positional, defensive defenseman, Duben has nice size and uses it well, but is lean and has would need to add weight. It’s safe to say that Duben’s NHL potential is non-existent.

Nathan Martz, C – 5th round, 140th overall (Chilliwack, BCJHL)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Martz was chosen after an extremely strong year in the BCJHL that saw him score 110 points and serve 97 penalty minutes in only 59 games. He attended the University of New Hampshire for the full four years after his draft. He established himself as decent playmaker but his results simply weren’t good enough to justify a contract.

After graduation, Martz signed with the Long Beach Ice Dogs in the ECHL. He had a strong first season, playing in 67 games and scoring 51 points. In June of this year, he was traded to the Las Vegas Wranglers. Martz’s chances at making it to the NHL are slim.

Brandon Snee, G – 5th round, 143rd overall (Union College, NCAA)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Snee was drafted after his sophomore year at Union College. He saw a lot of action behind the Skating Dutchmen team and improved his statistics each year of play. His final two seasons saw him named the team’s most valuable player. His last year saw him set career marks in wins (13), goals against average (2.72) and save percentage (.910).

After graduating from college, Snee was not signed by the Rangers. He spent his first season of professional hockey in 2002-03 bouncing around the UHL and ECHL. He then played his 2003-04 season in Jacksonville with the WHA2’s Barracudas. But when the Barracudas migrated to the SPHL after the WHA2 disbanded, Snee did not return.

Sven Helfenstein, LW – 6th round, 175th overall (EHC Kloten, Swiss)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Usually by the time the draft picks approach the 200th choice, the picks are projects with potential, and Sven Helfenstein is no exception. A small Swiss forward, Helfenstein was touted as a slick offensive player who saw the ice well. He never put up results in the Swiss league to justify that label. Helfenstein has played in both the Swiss A and B leagues since being drafted and has spent the past two years mainly with Zurich in the Swiss A league.

Henrik Lundqvist, G – 7th round, 205th overall (Vastra Frolunda HC Indians, Sweden Jr Superlit)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games played: 0

As often as players like Helfenstein never live up to the promise, a player like Henrik Lundqvist is what keeps teams hoping for miracles. Despite not yet playing a game in North America, let alone in the NHL, Lundqvist is by most accounts a steal.

A lot of ink has been given to Lundqvist’s exploits. He was the top junior player in the SEL in 2001-02, the top goaltender in the SEL in 2002-03 and led the Swedes to a silver medal at the World Championships in 2003-04, gaining a tournament All-Star nod along the way. In 2004-05, he was again Sweden’s top goaltender at the World Championships, struggling slightly but leading Tre Kronor to a fourth place finish.

Lundqvist is the top goalie from Sweden today and he’s well on his way to becoming the top Swedish goalie of all time. Lundqvist is expected to come to North America for the 2005-06 season. It’s still up in the air whether he will be in the NHL or the AHL, but big things are expected.

Danny Eberly, D – 8th round, 238th overall (R.P.I, NCAA)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

A hard-nosed defender, Danny Eberly was drafted after his freshman year at R.P.I. Not known for his offensive contributions, Eberly scored a career-high 17 points in his junior year. After finishing college, Eberly spent his first professional season in the ECHL, except for a single game in the AHL with Worcester, where he scored a goal. Eberly finished his 2003-04 season with Toledo, who signed him to return. He started the 2004-05 season off strongly, earning a spot representing Toledo in the ECHL All-Star game, but cooled off for 26 points and 36 penalty minutes in 52 games.

Martin Richter, D – 9th round, 269th overall (Saipa Lappeenranta, SM-Liiga)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

A Czech defenseman playing in the Finnish leagues, Richter returned to Saipa Lappeenranta after being drafted. He came to North America later that year and played in one game with the Hartford Wolf Pack. The following season (2001-02), Richter played in 29 AHL games, scoring a goal and an assist with 36 penalty minutes. He then returned to Europe to finish the year. Richter has stayed in Europe ever since, playing primarily for Sparta Praha in the Czech leagues.


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