Marc Savard

2005-06 OTG Ex-Ranger All-stars

The Outside The Garden All Ex-Rangers All-Stars took a break last year with the NHL lockout, but we’re back again in 2006 with your opinions on the best and fairest of former Rangers from the 2005-06 season.  There were a couple of surprises in this year’s selection, but there were only five newcomers to the line-up (two on the reserve list).  Luc Robitaille made his farewell to the NHL and to the OTG fans as the first line left wing, while Jussi Markkanen rode the back of injuries to his opponents (both on his team and to Dan Cloutier) to assume the #1 starting goaltender position.

Over half of those selected this season were Rangers draft picks, with two players (Nils Ekman and Marek Zidlicky) having never actually suited up for New York.  Other points of interest include the same six defensemen being selected as the 2004 OTG Ex-Rangers All-Stars and the omission of several players such as Eric Lindros, Mikael Samuelsson, Greg de Vries, Mathew Barnaby, Radek Dvorak and Tie Domi.

Amongst the forwards, Alexei Kovalev received the most votes, followed by Luc Robitaille, Marc Savard and Doug Weight.  The most contentious forward positions were the top two slots for center, and the 2nd-4th slots for left wing.  R J Umberger almost made it as a reserve.

First Line

Luc Robitaille
Los Angeles Kings
15-9-24 in 65 games
4th Appearance
Marc Savard*
Atlanta Thrashers
28-69-97 in 82 games
5th Appearance
Alexei Kovalev*
Montreal Canadiens
23-42-65 in 69 games
4th Appearance (3rd as starter)
After 19 seasons including two with the Rangers and a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings, “Lucky” Luc has decided to hang them up.  It’s fair to say that his season was far from a memorable one, but there’s no challenging his career achievements.

With 668 goals and 726 assists in 1431 NHL games, Robitaille is among the top players to ever play the game, and is considered amongst the best to have played the left wing position.
To say Marc Savard had a career year would be an understatement.  The 28 year old former Rangers draft pick set career highs for goals, assists, points, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power play goals and shots on goal.

And what did that earn him?  A ticket out of Atlanta and into the Boston Bruins organization as an unrestricted free agent.  A five-year deal worth $20 million will surely keep him out of trouble for the next few seasons.
It appears that the fans of OTG have largely overcome their disgust over Alex’s performances on Broadway and have restored him to the most favored slot on the Right Wing.

It’s probably fair to say that Kovalev’s competition wasn’t has hot this year as it has been in previous seasons, and he did after all score at almost a point a game, despite injuries that kept him out for 13 games.

Second Line

Ville Nieminen
San Jose Sharks
3-4-7 in 22 games
1st Appearance
Doug Weight*
St Louis Blues / Carolina Hurricanes
15-42-57 in 70 games
5th Appearance
Mike Knuble
Philadelphia Flyers
34-31-65 in 82 games
2nd Appearance
Somewhat a surprise selection no doubt, but Nieminen perhaps endeared himself as much after he left the Rangers organization as he did in his brief stint in New York.

Traded after the Olympic break for a pick that was ultimately used to acquire Sandis Ozolinsh, it could be argued that some fans would rather just have kept Nieminen.
Weight has been a perennial favorite with Rangers fans since he was traded back in 1993 as the Rangers sought to build the team that would ultimately win the Stanley Cup the following season.

Last year was no different, as the veteran center was traded for the first time since 2001 and ended up hoisting his first Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Since then, Weight has re-signed on with his former team the St Louis Blues, and one wonders how many more years we’ll see his name in these ranks. 
How would you like to have had Joe Thornton and Peter Forsberg as your centers in the past two seasons?  Well Mike Knuble has played with both and has greatly benefited as a result.

Last season Knuble put up career highs of 34 goals, 31 assists and 65 points on a line with 50 goal scorer Simon Gagne, and one of the best centers in the world in Peter Forsberg.

Knuble has been the perfect complementary player in his stints with Boston and Philadelphia and will probably make a few more appearances in the OTG Ex-Rangers All-Stars before his career is over

Third Line

Nils Ekman
San Jose Sharks
21-36-57 in 77 games
2nd Appearance
Mike York*
New York Islanders
13-39-52 in 75 games
4th Appearance
Tony Amonte*
Calgary Flames
14-28-42 in 80 games
4th Appearance
While Ekman did have modest improvement over his last season with the Sharks (setting career highs for assists and points) the surprise factor has well and truly passed.

He never did get a chance in New York and was a definite surprise in 2003-04 when he put up 55 points after two years in Europe and the minors.

It’ll be interesting to see how Ekman now does with the Penguins, after and in-flux of new players into the Sharks organization pushed him out of their plans.
As a Ranger, Mike York was one the fan favorites…as an Islander there’s much more mixed emotions over the former Ranger draft pick.

Since leaving the Rangers York has not quite managed to replicate his success.  Last year’s total of 52 points is the best he’s had since he put up 61 in the season he was traded to the Oilers, but his goal totals have not come close to the 26 he put up in his rookie year.

Perhaps one of the best signs for York, his 75 games were the most games he’d played in a season since the 81 appearances in 2001-02 season.
Amonte’s production continues to fall away, and his 14 goal total from last year was the lowest of his career.  Amonte has not managed to score more than 20 goals in a season since leaving the Chicago Blackhawks in 2001-02, and one wonders whether he’ll ever rebound.

The former Ranger fourth round pick will return next season for the Calgary Flames, but he will need to improve his production, or he could find that his next contract will be hard to come by.

Fourth Line

Chris Simon
Calgary Flames
8-14-22 in 72 games
2nd Appearance
Bobby Holik
Atlanta Thrashers
15-18-33 in 64 games
1st Appearance
Anson Carter
Vancouver Canucks
33-22-55 in 81 games
1st Appearance
In his only season with the Rangers, Simon quickly became a fan favorite.  Coming into the organization there were many questions surrounding the direction of his career, but he ended up finishing with an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals with Calgary.

After the lockout, Simon again returned with the Flames and had a drop off in his performance that will see him move on to a new team for the 2006-07 season.
Given the option to buy out his contract at the beginning of the 2005-06 season, it appears the Rangers made the right choice.  Holik put up his lowest point total since the 1995-96 season with the Devils and missed a total of 18 games due to injury.

The Thrashers narrowly missed the playoffs, and it’s fair to say that Holik’s play (and that of the Thrashers) improved as the season went on.  Whether he’ll be back in the OTG Ex-Rangers All-Stars next season is still a question that remains to be answered.
There weren’t many fans of Carter’s play as a Ranger, but a lockout and a season later and the former Ranger has redeemed himself in the eyes of many.

Playing along side the Sedin twins for much of the season, Carter set a career high with 33 goals and equaled his second highest point total with 55 points in a season.

It doesn’t hurt either that Carter was the player sent to the Capitals in exchange for current Ranger Jaromir Jagr.

First Defensive Pair

Sergei Zubov*
Dallas Stars
13-58-71 in 78 games
5th Appearance
Brian Leetch*
Boston Bruins
5-27-32 in 61 games
2nd Appearance
It’s hard to argue over this selection.  Zubov equaled his career high for goals (13)  and put up the most assists and points since his 1993-94 season with the Stanley Cup Champion Rangers.  While there were many questions at the time his contract was awarded, there’s no doubt now that it was money well spent.

The 35 year old defenseman ranked third on the Stars in points and was tied for second with 39 points on the power play, including an impressive 9 power play goals.  His 13 goals on the season easily beat any of the current Rangers blueline, and his 71 points was more than twice Michal Rozsival’s team high of 30 for the Rangers.

While we don’t expect Zubov to repeat this performance next season, we do expect him to make a couple more appearances on the Ex-Rangers All-stars before he calls it a career
Time appears to be starting to catch up with the former NHL All-star defenseman who registered the second lowest point total of his career and missed 21 games due to injury…and yet, his 32 points would still have ranked him #1 on the Rangers defense in terms of points.

You also can’t overlook the fact that as a Ranger and a member of the 93-94 team that Leetch has earned the respect of many of the OTG faithful and will likely continue to draw votes right up until the point he decides to end his career.

At 38, Leetch probably doesn’t have many more seasons in him, and at the time of this writing he was still yet to select a team.

Second Defensive Pair

Mathieu Schneider
Detroit  Red Wings
21-38-59 in 72 games
5th Appearance
Kim Johnsson*
Philadelphia Flyers
6-19-25 in 47 games
4th Appearance
There’s not many players who have a career year at the age of 36, but Mathieu Schneider was one of them.  The Detroit Red Wing blueliner put up career highs in goals, assists, points, plus/minus and power play points.  He also tied his career marks for power play goals and game winners.

Of course playing on the Detroit Red Wings is likely to help a guy with that kind of stuff, but it’s still quite an accomplishment this late in his career.
A concussion cut short what could have been a career year for the former “Mr Irrelevant”.  Johnsson completed his stint with the Flyers with his lowest season totals since his rookie year with the Rangers, but would have been close to setting a new career high in points if he had managed to stay healthy.

After the season, Johnsson elected to cash in and make the move to Minnesota where he’ll get a chance to play with a re-vamped squad that is looking for the offense that Johnsson can bring

Third Defensive Pair

Marek Zidlicky*
Nashville Predators
12-37-49 in 67 games
2nd Appearance
Mattias Norstrom*
Los Angeles Kings
4-23-27 in 77 games
5th Appearance
In just his second NHL season, Marek Zidlicky once again returns to the OTG Ex-Rangers All-Stars.  After a slow start, including an injury, Zidlicky bounced back to finish the season just four points shy of his rookie total…despite playing in 15 fewer games.

A 2001 draft pick for the Rangers, Zidlicky never played in the Rangers organization and was ultimately traded to the Predators as part of the deal that brought Mike Dunham to New York.  The reason he didn’t play?  The Rangers were unwilling to give him a one-way contract…
Another stalwart on the Ex-Rangers All-stars blueline has been Mattias Norstrom.  Unlike the five other defensemen, Norstrom plays his game closer to his own net and is known for his steadiness on defense.  While his defense (and that of his team) wasn’t as strong as it has been in the past, Norstrom did unexpectedly set some offensive career marks, in goals, assists and points.


Jussi Markkanen
Edmonton Oilers
15-12-6 in 37 games 3.13 GAA .880 S%
2nd Appearance
Dan Cloutier*
Vancouver Canucks
8-3-1 in 13 games 3.17 GAA .892 S%
5th Appearance
In just his second season since leaving the Rangers organization in the 2004 “purge”, Markkanen has assumed the starting goaltender role for the Ex-Ranger All-stars.  A Stanley Cup Final appearance, and injuries to Dan Cloutier certainly helped what was an otherwise ordinary year in terms of his performances.

The de-facto starter on many nights, Markkanen took advantage of poor form and injuries to Ty Conklin and then to Dwayne Roloson in the playoffs.
It was a short season for Dan in Vancouver, succumbing to a season ending injury after just 13 appearances.  The injury, combined with poor performances in the playoffs in recent years ultimately spelled the end for Cloutier and the Canucks, and the former Rangers draft pick will look to kick-start his career with the Los Angeles Kings in 2006-07


Garth Murray*
Montreal Canadiens
15-14-29 in 79 games
1st Appearance
Radek Dvorak
Edmonton Oilers
15-35-50 in 78 games
2nd Appearance
Bryan Berard
Columbus Blue Jackets
2-3-5 in 11 games
1st Appearance
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x