Rangers offseason prospects update

By Ken Meraglia

In an offseason of uncertainty because of the CBA dispute between the players and the owners, the New York Rangers have been very quiet. The biggest event of the offseason has been the NHL Entry Draft in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the team was one of the big stories with eight picks on the first day of the event.

2004 Entry Draft

On June 26-27 the Rangers organization took a major step forward in trying to revitalize the franchise as the management team, headed by President and General manager Glen Sather, came to North Carolina armed with 13 draft picks, including five picks in the first two rounds. The Rangers needed help at all positions, so it was going to be tough to go wrong.

With the sixth overall pick they selected goaltender Alvaro Montoya form the University of Michigan (CCHA). Earlier in the year, Montoya had been named the top goaltender in the World Junior Championship tournament, while helping Team USA win their first ever gold medal. The Rangers then used the 19th overall selection in the first round to select the flashy Finnish forward Lauri Korpikoski. The next 11 picks that followed were almost all forwards, with only one defenseman selected, Jonathan Paiement. Offense was the order of the weekend.

WJC Evaluation Camps

Five New York Rangers prospects have been invited to National Junior Team Evaluation Camps of the United States and Canada. The four players attending the United States camp to be held starting August 9 in Grand Forks, North Dakota are goaltenders Chris Holt and Alvaro Montoya, and forwards Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. Forward Nigel Dawes will be attending the Canadian camp.

Prospect Signings

Two prospects have been signed to professional contracts and will be battling for spots on the Rangers and Wolfpack in the upcoming season, center Dwight Helminen out of the University of Michigan on August 3 and defenseman David Liffiton out of Plymouth of the OHL on July 29. It was also announced that Montoya would not be among this group, but that he would remain at the University of Michigan.

Development Camp

On August 2 the Rangers opened up their annual three-week Development Camp in Calgary, Alberta. Forty prospect are taking part in on and off-ice training as they all prepare for their respective 2004-2005 seasons. New Head Coach Tom Renney will be running the camp, but he will have plenty of help while doing so. Perry Pearn and Benoit Allaire, who have been named as Renney’s assistant coaches for the upcoming season, are also taking part. Allaire will also be handling the duties as Goaltender Coach. Joining these three coaches at the camp will be the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolfpack Head Coach Ryan McGill and his Assistant Coach Nick Fotiu.

The goal of the camp is to get the players acquainted with the Rangers and Wolfpack coaching and training staffs, to get to know the other prospects, and to get the basics of the Rangers new organizational strategy and philosophy. Eleven of the team’s 13 picks from the 2004 draft are attending, with only Lauri Korpikoski and Billy Ryan not in attendance.

Players attending

Goaltenders: Chris Holt, Alvaro Montoya, Jason Labarbera

Defensemen: Ivan Baranka, Nathan Guenin, David Liffiton, Jonathan Paiement, Thomas Pock, Corey Potter, Rory Rawlyk, Dylan Reese, Jake Taylor, Danny Syvret

Forwards: Zdenek Bahensky, Pat Bateman, Robin Big Snake, Dane Byers, Ryan Callahan, Nigel Dawes, Ivan Dornic, Brandon Dubinsky, Lee Falardeau, Rob Flynn, Jordan Foote, Trevor Gillies, Bruce Graham, Dwight Helminen, Ryan Hollweg, Hugh Jessiman, Marcus Jonasen, Rick Kozak, Greg Moore, Darin Olver, Jakub Petruzalek, Roman Psurny, Ken Roche, Juris Stals, Joe Tallari, and Mike Walsh.

With the NHL season up in the air for next year, and the rules for the future uncertain, the Rangers are remaining firm on their plan of rebuilding with younger more energetic players than they’ve had in years past. The 2004-2005 team looks to be a young one. With a solid draft, a winning AHL team, and many promising players working their way through the system, the future looks brighter than it has in years for the Rangers.

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without written permission of the editorial staff.