Deadline to Sign Euro Draftees is Approaching

By Brandon LeBourveau
The deadline to sign players drafted from Europe is Sunday night, July 15th, at midnight. If you do not come to terms with a European draftee by then, he will remain in Europe for the upcoming 2001/2002 season and play hockey over there.

The Rangers have a couple of players that fit this category, most notably this year’s 6th round pick in defenseman Marek Zidlicky. Zidlicky is a 6’0 180 pound defenseman from the Czech Republic, who put up great numbers this season for HIFK of the Finnish Elite League. Zidlicky is 24 years old, and if he comes over to North America this season he could possibly make the team right out of training camp. His team in Finland, HIFK, is one of the only teams in Europe to play on an NHL sized rink. Having played a few seasons on an NHL sized rink, it shouldn’t take too long for Zidlicky to adapt to the NHL. Compared to his former teammate Brian Rafalski, Zidlicky is a physical force in the defensive end while also able to control a game offensively. He has great offensive abilities and a laser of a shot. A Finnish newspaper has been reporting that Marek is close to signing and the deal should be announced soon, so let’s hope that this is true.

Other European draftees such as Stefan Lundqvist, Sven Helfenstein, Tomi Kallarsson, Arto Laatikainen, Ilja Gorokhov and Henrik Lundqvist are unlikely candidates to be signed. Fedor Tyutin, Leonid Zhvachin and Juris Stals, who were all drafted this year, will come over to North America but they will all play in the OHL. Tyutin, drafted in the 2nd round (40th Overall) and Zhvachin, drafted in the 8th round (230th Overall) will play for the Guelph Storm, while Juris Stals (9th rounder) will play for the Sarnia Sting.

In other news, It is a huge relief to see Jaromir Jagr dealt to another team instead of the Rangers. Glen Sather was not willing to part with the Rangers best young prospects in a deal for Jagr, and if Sather won’t part with Pavel Brendl, Jamie Lundmark and Tomas Kloucek for the best player in the world, it is safe to say neither of them will be traded any time soon, thankfully. With the trades of veterans Tim Taylor and Adam Graves, and the buy outs of Valeri Kamensky and Colin Forbes, there should be some roster spots open on the Rangers this season and that means we will finally get to see some more young players on the team, unless Glen Sather pulls a fast one and signs some more free agents such as Brett Hull. I guess we’ll have to be patient this summer, but I don’t expect the Rangers to make a big move. At least I don’t want them too.