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New York Rangers Fan Club

The Fish Bowl
by Toby Ivey

Saturday, June 19 2004


Future Forward: Goaltender

The 2004 NHL Entry Draft is just a week away, so we close out our review section of the Rangers prospect pool with a look at the netminders in the system.

Goaltending
Perhaps the most promising goaltender in the Rangers system is technically no longer a prospect.  Having injured his shoulder last summer while working out, Dan Blackburn missed the entire 2003-04 season and only started to regain some of his strength in the shoulder when doctors removed scar tissue back in March of this year.  Behind Blackburn, there are just a handful of prospects in net, partly a testament to the Rangers faith in Blackburn and to a lesser extent the difficult NHL teams have in keeping prospective goaltenders employed. 

Chris Holt  -  6'2" 210lbs  -  19 years old
27GP 3.24GAA .900Sv% with Nebraska-Omaha (CCHA)
Last summer when Holt was drafted by the Rangers, he made the decision to sign on with the Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha, and at times he might have regretted the decision.  Backstopping an inexperienced team is never an easy task and there was some evidence to suggest that the young netminder was a victim of his own inexperience.  

Starting the year against the defending championship Minnesota Golden Gophers, the 6'2" 210lb goaltender looked strong before coming undone along with the rest of his team as the Mavericks were worn down.  Holt appeared to suffer from the defeat, letting in a couple of goals he perhaps should of had, and at one point was perhaps in danger of losing his starting job as Nebraska-Omaha struggled through a 1-7-1 start to the season.

But as the year progressed, Holt appeared to steady himself and even earned himself the CCHA defensive player of the week when he gave up just 3 goals to the well ranked UMass team on the way to an unbeaten weekend.

Holt was invited to attend the US Junior camp and has three years remaining in his NCAA eligibility.

Jason Labarbera  -  6'2" 205lbs  -  24 years old
4GP 4.25GAA .824Sv% with New York Rangers (NHL)
59GP 1.59GAA .936Sv% with Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
It's been quite a year for Jason Labarbera.  He set an AHL shutout record with 13, was selected the league MVP (and was a notable omission on the All-star squad) and helped the Pack to the Eastern Conference regular season title.  He even returned to the NHL to get his first start and later, his first NHL victory.

And yet, there still remains plenty of questions.

Labarbera had the misfortune of making his first NHL start against one of the most offensively creative teams in the league in the Colorado Avalanche, and then followed that up with 20 minutes of action in a 9-1 at the hands of the Ottawa Senators.

The young netminder never looked comfortable in his four appearances this year, despite the win.  A goaltender who tends to rely on his reflexes, Labarbera found the added pace at the NHL level difficult to handle, often finding himself out of position or diving to try to make the save.  Perhaps there is some hope given his apparent nervousness and the success he has had in the AHL, but Labarbera could well find himself relegated to backup duty with the return of Blackburn.

Henrik Lundqvist  -  6'1" 187lbs  -  22 years old
48GP 2.17GAA .927Sv% with Vastra Frolunda (SWE)
The expiration of two important league contracts have contributed to one more year in Europe for Lundqvist.  The impending lock-out as a result of the CBA discussions and the end to the IIHF-NHL agreement which would have allowed the Rangers to buy out the remaining year of Lundqvists contract for $100,000 resulted in the decision to keep the young netminder in Sweden for another year.

A relative unknown at the time he was drafted in 2000, Lundqvist has made an impression first as the starter for Vastra Frolunda in the past two years, and more recently in the World Championships held in the Czech Republic.  The young netminder has drawn interest from the Rangers to the point they considered bringing him over.  While he will remain a promising prospect in the system, Lundqvist himself has admitted he will likely need some time in North America before he can be considered a possibility at the NHL level.

Phil Osaer  -  6'1" 190lbs  -  24 years old
21GP 2.22GAA .913Sv% with Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Since finishing his college career with Ferris State, Osaer has spent the past three seasons looking for a home.  Coming to camp as a try-out, he took advantage of Blackburn's injury and the open roster spot in the system to cement a spot as the Backup to Jason Labarbera in Hartford.

A goaltender who looks pretty compact despite his frame, Osaer played well enough to earn himself an NHL contract later in the season where he dressed as a backup for a single game with Labarbera and Dunham on the injured list.

Whether or not he'll be back for the 2003-04 season could well depend on what else happens within the organization.  With Dunham under contract for one more season and Blackburn returning from a long injury layoff, Osaer will likely have to settle for ECHL duty to start the year if he is to remain.

Brandon Snee  -  6'1" 195lbs  -  24 years old
12GP 3.68GAA .867Sv% with Jacksonville Barracudas (WHA2)
After an unimpressive year with Ron Duguary and Jacksoville of the now defunct WHA2, it appears that Snee's time with the organization is at an end.

Stephen Valiquette  -  6'5" 205lbs  -  26 years old (27 in August)
2GP 3.03GAA .915Sv% with New York Rangers (NHL)
1GP 9.23GAA .714Sv% with Edmonton Oilers (NHL)
7GP 2.25GAA .928Sv% with Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
35GP 2.59GAA .913Sv% with Toronto Roadrunners (AHL)
Acquired in one of several trades at the deadline, Valiquette initially impressed, keeping his NHL unbeaten streak alive in a March shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers.  But the lanky netminder suffered greatly in his next start giving up five goals behind a porous Rangers defense and was quickly dispatched to the Wolf Pack where he served as backup to Jason Labarbera.

The lanky netminder is fairly economical in his movements and leaves little net open with his classic butterfly style, but being prone to giving up bad goals which he appears to have covered will cost him his chance to cement a job in the NHL.  Valiquette is now on his fourth NHL team and appears destined to become a free agent once again this summer. 

Summary
The Rangers don't appear to have any NHL ready netminders in their system, although the hope is that Dan Blackburn can return to action and once again be considered a strong candidate.  Lundqvist too looks to be a future NHL goaltender in the making, but will need time in the AHL to provide a better assessment, while Holt has plenty of work yet to do.  Beyond that it appears that the hope of Labarbera becoming a future starter is dimming and the players brought in at the start of the year and at the deadline were just filling out the rosters.

Depth Chart In Terms Of Potential
Henrik Lundqvist - will remain in Sweden for another year
Jason Labarbera - back in Hartford next year, will probably get another look before his fate is sealed
Stephen Valiquette - free agency appears to beckon once again
Phil Osaer - has he done enough to earn another year with the organization?
Chris Holt - will continue with Nebraska-Omaha, worth keeping an eye on
Brandon Snee - time appears almost up

 


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YOUR COMMENTS

POST COMMENT >>
DATE AUTHOR COMMENT
6/20/2004 RANGERNUT Hit the Nail on the Head
6/20/2004 Prospect Status How is Blackburn technically no longer a prospect?
6/20/2004 Don S Dunham will be gone draft day.
6/21/2004 Toby Couple of things...
6/23/2004 Don S Prospect.
6/23/2004 Don S OTG
6/23/2004 Toby Um er...
7/17/2004 Dump Blackburn is our best goalie. Period
7/20/2004 Toby I too hope Blackburn will succeed...
POST COMMENT >>
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September 29th, 2017

How many rostered players were on the ice for opening night 2016-17

Answer...
  STANDINGS
  Team GP W L OT Pts  
  Maple Leafs 7 6 1 0 12  
  Lightning 7 5 1 1 11  
  Blue Jackets 6 5 1 0 10  
  Devils 6 5 1 0 10  
  Senators 6 3 1 2 8  
  Red Wings 7 4 3 0 8  
  Penguins 7 4 2 1 9  
  Flyers 6 4 2 0 8  
  Capitals 7 3 3 1 7  
  Hurricanes 4 2 1 1 5  
  Islanders 6 2 3 1 5  
  Panthers 5 2 3 0 4  
  Bruins 5 2 3 0 4  
  Sabres 7 1 4 2 4  
  Rangers 7 1 5 1 3  
  Canadiens 7 1 5 1 3  
FULL STANDINGS
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RYAN MALONE
(2014-2015)
  Born: Dec 1 - 1979  
  Pos: Left Wing  
  GP: 6  
  G: 0  
  A: 0  
  Pts: 0  
  PIMs: 4  

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