Sometimes in the world of professional sports we get so caught up in the state of the game we forget the underlying facts. As I visit sites on the Internet and listen to a million unemployed GM’s I soon realize that many of them simply have no idea what they are talking about. They talk about the Rangers prospects and obviously the first two to come up are the Rangers crown jewels, 1999 first rounder’s Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark. Perhaps the most disturbing thing is how uninformed they are about the situations of these two very talented but very different players. They assume that they are simply draft day busts by looking at the stats, but the simple truth is that to understand where these kids are coming from you must look far beyond the numbers. Fortunately there are some observers (including the Ranger’s brass amongst others) who have realized this, but for the rest of the pack the answer simply isn’t clear to them.
With the ongoing season I have re-rated some of the Rangers prospects. Although the “top 22″ rankings are from the beginning of the season, changes have been made in the positional analysis. This lists consists of NON-CURRENT NHLer’s and for the most part players under 26. Basic comments have been made. Players selected, signed no earlier than 1997.
NOTE: With the acquisition of Rich Pilon via the waiver wire, prospect Dale Purinton and P.J. Stock return to the minor league Affiliate in Hartford of the American Hockey League and to our positional analysis. Jason Doig, Mike York, Kim Johnsson and Jan Hlavac have been dropped as they are in New York with the Rangers. This list as of 12-3-1999.
General Manager Neil Smith announced the recall of Wolf Pack tough-guy Dale Purinton and the demotion of P.J. Stock and Terry Virtue.
Purinton, 23, has tallied one goal and one assist in 20 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) this season. He ranks second in the AHL and leads the club with 128 penalty minutes. The 6-3, 214-pound defenseman has registered five goals and nine assists for 14 points, along with 715 penalty minutes in 116 career professional matches with Hartford and Charlotte (East Coast Hockey League).
As the axe over Coach John Muckler`s head continues to move downward, the baby Rangers most promising picks continue on their journey to the National Hockey League. Their prospect listing is bright and here is a taste of what may come…..
PATRICK AUFIERO: Has tallied two goals and four assists for six points in eight games with the Boston University Terriers .. Leads the team with two game-winning goals . Is tied for first on the team with four points (two goals, two assists) in three conference games. Can he be like Jay Pandolfo? or Euro Pro… Dave Emma?
GARRETT BEMBRIDGE: Has skated in 17 contests with the Saskatoon Blades (WHL), collecting four goals and six assists for 10 points . Places seventh on the club with 10 points and ranks second on the team with a plus five rating . Is tied for first on the team and tied for fourth in the league with three game winning tallies.
After a month of nearly horrible hockey for the New York Rangers, it is grading time. Being the New York Rangers, this will be short as there are few rookies. So we will add grades to some other players as well, most of them 2nd year and those in the AHL, at Hartford.
Mike York 5.10 170 (USA)
York has taken full opportunity of being the No. 2 center by default. York possesses a nice touch, hard shot, and never say die work ethic. York has played well through the first month of the season, and is entrenched at No. 2 but receives No. 1 center minutes. York, now on a line with Adam Graves and Theo Fleury, has only helped bring up the play of the two struggling veterans. As of now, Mike York is the top center on this New York Rangers club.
Kim Johnsson 6.01 188 (SWE)
Johnsson came in to the camp as an unknown commodity. Being the last pick in the draft, Johnsson went out to prove something. He played as Sweden`s best defender at the World Championships in Norway catching the eye of General Manager Neil Smith. Johnsson still makes the rookie mistake, but has shown that he can hit, skate and pass. A solid team player, Johnsson has moved steadily up the depth chart and is more valuable than anyother Rangers defender this side of Brian Leetch. Johnsson plays like a seasoned veteran and if he is kept in New York through these worried times, he will be a top NHL defender. At this point, Johnsson is the best Rangers’ defenseman in my book. He needs about 15 pounds to his frame, but that will come.