Rangers send prospects to Flyers for Lindros

By Brandon LeBourveau
It’s been an on-going saga for the New York Rangers for many years. Dealing away young talent in return for an established veteran, brought in to increase the chances of the team winning the Stanley Cup. We saw Doug Weight dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in return for Esa Tikkanen. We saw Tony Amonte dealt to Chicago in return for Steve Larmer. About 7 years later, what has it brought us? 1 Stanley Cup and 4 consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, while Weight and Amonte are widely viewed as top line players in the NHL. I don’t know where to begin when I wonder of what life would be like if the Rangers held on to Weight and Amonte, among others.

This brings us to June of 2000, when the New York Rangers hired former Edmonton General Manager Glen Sather to run the team. In Edmonton, Sather was known as an excellent GM who built his teams through the draft and trades. He was the one dealing away the veterans for the talented younger players, something that made Rangers’ fans excited. Many believed the days of dealing away our young talent were gone. It was a new, better era for New York. We had one of the best GM’s in the NHL, and one who could acquire young talent and ultimately build the team that way. But we were wrong.

Today, the Rangers traded hotshot prospect Pavel Brendl, the 4th Overall pick in the 1999 Draft, young winger Jan Hlavac, and young defenseman Kim Johnsson, along with a 3rd round pick in 2003 to the Philadelphia Flyers for all-star center Eric Lindros, and a conditional 1st round pick in 2003. As they say, some things never change.>

Had the Rangers acquired the Eric Lindros of 5 years ago, I would be the most excited fan in New York. However, the Eric Lindros we are getting is the one that could end up in retirement if he suffers 1 more consussion. Over the past three years, Lindros has suffered 6 concussions, his last one courtesy of Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils. Lindros sat out this whole season in a huge dispute with Flyers’ management, after attempts by Philadelphia to trade him a couple of times during the season. After a year and a half, the Rangers finally are the “lucky” ones to give him an opportunity to resume his NHL career.

Gone are the bright futures of three solid young players. Pavel Brendl, drafted 4th overall 2 years ago, never got the opportunity to show his world class scoring ability in the NHL with the Rangers. Glen Sather felt Brendl wasn’t hard to let go, since the GM did not like the player’s work ethic or determination. Brendl appeared at rookie camp this off-season 10 pounds overweight (he’s since shed 6 of that off) after not training at all the whole summer while relaxing in the Czech Republic. I still truly believe that Brendl will be an excellent player in the NHL some day. I know there are many people who criticize him, but I just have a good feeling about this player. Although it is unlikely Brendl will crack the very deep Flyers lineup, expect him to put up solid numbers this season in the AHL, with the Philadelphia Phantoms. After all, he led the WHL in most goals scored over the last 3 seasons.

Kim Johnsson is not a big loss. With a very deep pool of defensive prospects in the system such as Mike Mottau, Filip Novak, Fedor Tyutin, etc, many believed that if a big deal was made, Johnsson was an easy candidate to cough up, as he could easily be replaced by a younger player. Johnsson should help improve the Flyers defense, as he brings a very good two-way game to the table, along with excellent speed and great skating ability.

Jan Hlavac is going to be the toughest player in this deal to see leave broadway. A player who is a budding 30 goal scorer and will probably reach 40 a few times in his career, Hlavac came over from the Flames at the 1999 Draft and has done a lot in two seasons with the Rangers. He scored 19 goals in his rookie season, and then followed that up with 28 goals this year. Expect Hlavac to hit 35 goals this year with the Flyers. Most likely Hlavac will be centered by fellow Czech Jiri Dopite, who Philadelphia acquired earlier in the summer. Gone now is the Czech line that was the best line for the Rangers the past two years. It’s sad.

With a logjam at the center ice position with Mark Messier, Petr Nedved, Mike York, Andreas Johansson, Jamie Lundmark and now Eric Lindros, the team may look to deal Nedved or York in return for help on defense. Brett Hull is expected to sign with the Rangers now that Lindros is here, and he would provide more scoring on the wings. It’s an interesting situation, and one that should unfold before the season starts.

Hopefully for the Rangers, Eric Lindros will return to form from 5 years ago and be a dominating center in the National Hockey League, although I wouldn’t bet on it. Hopefully for Philadelphia, Brendl, Hlavac and Johnsson help them win a lot of Stanley Cups in the future. Congrats to Bobby Clarke, GM of the Flyers. You got two winners in Brendl and Hlavac, and maybe finally after they are tearing up the NHL in 5 years, while also killing the Rangers, it might just change the focus of the NYR management to build with youth.