Plenty has been written about the downside
of the seemingly evident Lindros trade so we thought we'd try to look at
the trade in a more positive light.
The history is well known, drafted by the
Quebec Nordiques, Lindros held out until he was able to force a trade to
the Philadelphia Flyers, beating out a Rangers offer by a mere 20 minutes.
Several concussions and a very public
dispute later and we find Eric Lindros once again attempting to control
his destiny. The Restricted Free Agent has held the Flyers ransom as
he dictated to Flyers management a list of teams he would be happy to play
for a list which added the Rangers over the summer.
Yet despite all these questions, there are
still teams interested in trading for the former star center. St
Louis was rumored to be close to deal before acquiring Tkachuk, and much
has been made of the Toronto negotiations which almost cost the Maple
Leafs their post-season berth at the end of last season.
Enter the New York Rangers....
At 6'4" and 230lbs, Eric Lindros has
the size that the Ranger covet, a size that could allow them to match-up in the East and in particular the Atlantic
Division which appears to have the largest group of centerman in the
league One of the few big men with a scoring touch he plays a
physical game which has been both a blessing and a burden. Numerous
injuries throughout his career have hampered his effectiveness, not
least of all a series of concussions, including four in his last season in
Perhaps the only thing that can be said
about concussions is that the evidence appears to point to an increased
susceptibility as athletes sustain more of them. One only has to
look at the recent trials of Quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman
whose careers were cut short by multiple blows to the head. Over the
last few years concussion diagnosis has improved dramatically allowing
concussions to be diagnosed earlier and more often. Unfortunately the
treatment and prevention are yet to catch up.
It's not a given however, that Lindros will
be the walking time-bomb that most predict.
healthy Eric Lindros would be a steal for the New York Rangers
A year off and a full medical clearance may
mean it's time to look past those injuries to the player the Rangers could
very well find themselves with by the end of this week. Eric Lindros
is perhaps one of the most complete offensive players in the league
today. He brings to his team the abilities of a genuine first line
center who can win draws, score and be a physical presence on the ice,
something the Rangers have lacked during their long playoff drought.
At 28, he still has the potential to play
at a peak level for a number of seasons, and it certainly seems that the
Rangers management believe this to be so, as evidenced by their apparent
eagerness to sign him to a four year contract to prevent him leaving as an
unrestricted free agent when he turns 31.
A healthy Lindros is a no-brainer for the
Rangers, but are they risking too much by giving up Johnsson, Hlavac and
Kim Johnsson appears the easiest to
replace. A solid puck moving defenseman, Johnsson is coming off an
impressive World Championships for his native Sweden and his second year
in the NHL. From the very beginning it was evident that Kim's
strength was his puck handling and skating something the Rangers now find
themselves overloaded with. Lacking strength and size, the young
Swede often struggled in his own zone and in front of his own net and it
wasn't until he was paired with Tomas Kloucek that he appeared to come
into his own. Any one of Mottau, Smrek or Van Impe look likely to
take his place, with Filip Novak and Matt Kinch providing some added
incentive to move him.
The player the Rangers will most likely
miss will be Jan Hlavac. The 24 year old Czech winger has blossomed
into an offensive threat and could yet develop into a true sniper with
35-40 goals certainly within his reach. His offense may seldom be
questioned, the same cannot be said for his defense and physical
play. Like Johnsson, Hlavac was an example of what was wrong with
the Rangers and it could be him that pays the price for an overall lack on
Perhaps the most troubling addition is that
of Pavel Brendl, dubbed everything from the next Jaromir Jagr to the next
bust. The 20 year old Czech has yet to play an NHL game, but has
already drawn some lofty comparisons, but questions over his desire and
work ethic continue to surface. As with any prospect, the inclusion
of this young player in a trade will be best viewed in hindsight but the
number of voices calling into question his potential has steadily been
The risk-reward on this deal is high, but
the fact that the Rangers could get a player who actually fills a need
will be a refreshing change. The loss of Hlavac, Johnsson and Brendl
could easily come back to haunt the team, but with still much of the youth
left and a commitment to a more balanced style of play may prove to be the
one thing that turns this franchise around.