Introducing the future of the Rangers Defense

By Evan Andriopoulos

The defenseman who was coveted by both Glen Sather and Ron Low as well as the Islanders and Bruins was finally landed at the cost of hard working Mike York. Poti a monster of a young man at 6-3 215(liberally given) has a smooth skating style, strong work ethic and laser guided passing ability. His one downside is that he is not as physical as his size would otherwise indicate. But then again for those of you who remember… he is not Willie Huber either.

Poti will be counted on to anchor the Rangers 2nd defense and power play units. Now with Brian Leetch and Vladimir Malakhov in tow the Rangers have three legit powerplay defenders. If Bryan Berard continues to RE-develop then that would mean four. The problem however with the Rangers is guys that can “stay at home” and play defense. While Poti will never be confused with a pure stay at home defenseman or again Willie “the whale” Huber the Rangers are still in need for a physical stay at homer but the move to acquire Poti fixed a couple problems, one the rival Islanders and their persuit and the Rangers quest for Brian Leetch`s successor.

The Rangers then followed up with a move to send project Peter Smrek to Nashville for Slovakian prospect Richard Lintner. Smrek who made many take notice when first being picked up from St.Louis has seemingly fallen off the radar. Lintner has spent time in Nashville (NHL) and their affiliate in Milwaukee (IHL) as well as Springfield (AHL) and Slovakia and Sweden. Lintner is bound for AHL camp next year and is a long shot to make the club. With the development of Martin Richter (who will likely gain ice time in this coming years World Championships in Sweden) has developed at a nice pace and continues to hone his skills. He has been a pleasant suprise.

What this means is Mike Mottau will have to wait until next year to have a shot and this shot depends on how Pat Aufiero (US College -BU) and Bryan Berard (re-development) do this year and or in camp. If Berard can pick his game up even more he may earn the right to his “huge” option contract for 2002-03. If not… then the Rangers will pass thus opening a spot for Mottau. Mike Mottau on the other hand is falling off the charts. Although playing a dominating AHL game Mottau may just be on the wrong club where building via youth is not a priority and never will be. Mottau may be dealt this summer but again this depends on many factors. Fedor Tutin (Guelph) is the reason Filip Novak was expendable. Tutin has developed at an alarming pace and is now perhaps the Rangers best young prospect let alone defensive prospect. At 6-3 and 205 he has the size of a young NHLer and his scoring touch (10 goals and 25 assists) are much more than expected. Stay tuned!

I wish to give a special thanks to Mike York, the little guy that could. He worked hard everyday never giving up or never taking for granted his spot on the roster. He played hard every minute showing each day why he earned his spot in the NHL. The little guy that played through pain and sickness and who was so badly beaten physically he had to turn down and invite to the US team at the 2001 World Championships, I wish him the best of luck with his new club the Edmonton Oilers.

The Rangers signed high scoring Alaska-Fairbanks center Bobby Andrews to a contract. Andrews will report to the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL). Andrews at 6-1 200 is a good skating soft handed center who piled up 14 goals in 37 points this season. Andrews won the CCHA award for best defensive forward.

My condolences to the family of the little girl in Ohio was killed by a deflected puck in the Blue Jackets Game. A very very dark day for hockey across the globe. Our thoughts are with the family and the hockey world.