Johan Holmqvist

2006-07 OTG Ex-Rangers All-Stars

First off we’d like to thank all those who voted in the 2006-07 Outside the Garden Ex-Rangers All-Stars and congratulations to Gorox who was randomly selected from those who voted and will receive an autographed puck from us.

The poll marks the fifth year that we’ve asked you, the readers of OTG to vote for your favorite former Rangers, and it’s the sixth year in which we’ve honored those who were once dressed in Blue. Last year we bid farewell to Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille, and this year has the potential to see several more former Rangers heading to Europe or simply retiring.

Among those who may have played their last NHL games are Tony AmonteEric LindrosJussi MarkkanenPetr Nedved and Ville Nieminen, while fan favorite Matthew Barnaby already announced his retirement as a result of post concussion symptoms.

This year’s team once again has the feeling of familiarity with only three debutants in the starting line-up, with Johan Holmqvist perhaps being the biggest surprise of the year, joining Lindros and Greg de Vries in that honor. Short-time Ranger Pascal Dupuis surprisingly earned a reserve berth, and Mikael Samuelsson made a triumphant return from Europe with the Red Wings and earned his first Ex-Rangers title.

I hope you enjoy reminiscing as much as we do as you take a look at the 2006-07 Outside the Garden Ex-Rangers All-Stars.

First Line
Martin Rucinsky
St Louis Blues

12-12-33 in 52 games
2nd Appearance
Marc Savard*
Boston Bruins
22-74-96 in 82 games
6th Appearance
Alexei Kovalev*
Montreal Canadiens
18-29-47 in 73 games
5th Appearance (4th as starter)
Rucinsky actually polled the most votes for any forward, which was probably more an indication of the slim pickings at left wing than any endorsement of his season with the Blues. Rucinsky could’ve returned this year as a Ranger, but wanted more than a one-year deal, the Rangers ended up signing Brendan Shanahan and the rest is history.

Rucinsky’s production dipped to his lowest point since playing for the Blues last time around in 2002-03 and he missed 30 games for the second straight year.
A change of team did nothing to dampen Savard’s offensive production, but for the 9th straight season his team failed to qualify for the post-season (incidentally the Bruins are his 4th NHL team). That puts the count at 585 games and counting…

Still there were some positives for Savard in a woeful Bruins season. He set a career high for assists and fell just one point shy of his career high in points,
Another sub-par season and an injury that caused him to miss nine games had the enigmatic Russian winger talking about retiring this season. As it turned out Kovalev did return only to participate in his team’s frustrating collapse in the final days of the regular season when they appeared to have a playoff spot locked up.

Kovalev’s place as the #1 right wing once again is at least in part a reflection of the poor options out there amongst the former Rangers playing in the league.
Second Line
Mike York
New York Islanders / Philadelphia Flyers
10-11-21 in 66 games
5th Appearance
Doug Weight*
St Louis Blues
16-43-59 in 82 games
6th Appearance
Petr Sykora
Edmonton Oilers
22-31-53 in 82 games
1st Appearance
Since leaving the Rangers, Mike York‘s career hasn’t exactly flourished. After starting the season on the Islanders, York found himself traded to the struggling Flyers where he was ultimately a healthy scratch for several games.

York will try to resurrect his career as he re-unites with Don Maloney over in Phoenix.
After winning the Stanley Cup last year with the Carolina Hurricanes, Weight returned to St Louis for another season. At 36 year’s of age, it’s clear that his career is on the downside and with the Blues in the midst of a complete overhaul, one wonders how many more years we’re likely to see the former Ranger.

Weight will return to the Blues for another go around in 07-08.
Sykora made it clear after the Ranger’s season finished last year that he wanted to return to New York. The Rangers for their part showed little interest and so Sykora signed on with the Edmonton Oilers. One of the early leaders in offensive production, Sykora ended up putting up a solid if not spectacular goal total, fading badly in the latter part of the season.

Rangers fans will get a chance to see more Sykora in 07-08 courtesy of his signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins
Third Line
Ville Nieminen
San Jose Sharks / St Louis Blues
1-1-2 in 44 games
2nd Appearance
Eric Lindros
Dallas Stars
5-21-26 in 49 games
1st Appearance
Mike Knuble
Philadelphia Flyers
24-30-54 in 64 games
3rd Appearance
Traded in the 05-06 season to the San Jose Sharks, it appeared Nieminen had found a home playing for a team many considered a cup contender. As it turned out his season didn’t go as well as he had hoped and Nieminen found himself traded to the lowly Blues.
The rough-edged Finn appears as if he will be playing in Europe in the upcoming season, and we may have seen the last of him in the NHL.
Lindros’ first appearance as an Ex-Ranger all-star in just his second season since leaving the Rangers could very well be his last. The former #1 pick once again missed a large portion of the season due to injury and may have finally found no one to offer him a contract.
In a recent interview Lindros focused on his activities for the NHLPA rather than his playing future.
Knuble’s 24 goals this season was the most by any Ex-Ranger in 2006-07 and that was in a season where he missed the most games since his 2001-02 outing with the Boston Bruins.

He also put up the third highest point total of his career while playing for the worst team in the league.
Fourth Line
Chris Simon
New York Islanders
10-17-27 in 67 games
3rd Appearance
Bobby Holik
Atlanta Thrashers
11-18-29 in 82 games
2nd Appearance
Tony Amonte*
Calgary Flames
10-20-30 in 81 games
5th Appearance
If it wasn’t for a late season stick-swinging incident against none other than the Rangers’ Ryan HollwegChris Simon could well have moved up on the depth chart. As it turns out he’s still got games to run on his suspension that will carry into 2007-08.

As of this date it appears that the Islanders have elected to re-sign him for a bargain basement $475,000
Another of the aging former Rangers had his worst goal production since the strike shortened 1994-95 season when he registered just one goal fewer in 34 fewer games. Holik faced his former team in the Thrashers’ first playoff appearance in the franchise’s history, but he was largely a non-factor in the 4-0 series loss.

With one more year left on his contract in Atlanta, there’s already speculation in some areas as to where his next port of call might be.
Once again an aging former Ranger struggled offensively in 2006-07, which doesn’t bode well for his chances of hooking up with another team this year as a UFA. As of the writing of this article Amonte is yet to sign a contract with an NHL team (or in Europe for that matter).

Amonte’s totals of 10 goals, 20 assists and 30 points are all lows in a career that has spanned 15 seasons going back to 1991-92 when he broke into the league after playing in the playoffs for the Rangers the previous season.
First Defensive Pair
Sergei Zubov*
Dallas Stars
12-42-54 in 78 games
6th Appearance
Mathieu Schneider
Detroit Red Wings
11-41-52 in 68 games
6th Appearance
At 36 it’s fair to ask when Sergei Zubov will start slowing down. Apparently not in the 2006-07 season when he fell just one short of his career high (equaled last year by the way) when he registered his 12th goal. The 25 goals in the past two season are the most he’s ever put up in consecutive seasons, while his two year total of 125 points equals his career best he set back when he was playing for the Rangers and put together an 89 point season followed up by 36 in the strike shortened 1994-95 season.

The Stars have re-signed Zubov for one more year, and if he continues to produce, expect him to keep playing beyond that.
The oldest player in this year’s Ex-Rangers All-Stars at 37, Schneider is another defenseman who continues to shine in his golden years. The New York native equaled his second best point total, and was just seven points of the career high he set last year, also with the Red Wings.

It helps playing with Niklas Lidstrom for sure, but it appears as if Schneider will get to play with another league leading defenseman this year in Anaheim where he is expected to replace Scott Niedermayer (pending his decision on retirement) on a pairing with Chris Pronger.
Second Defensive Pair
Mattias Norstrom*
Los Angeles Kings / Dallas Stars
2-9-11 in 76 games 6th Appearance
Kim Johnsson*
Minnesota Wild
3-19-22 in 76 games
5th Appearance
After eleven straight seasons in Los Angeles, the Kings chose to trade their captain to the Dallas Stars at the trading deadline in an effort to change direction. While the Kings continue to do their rebuild, Norstrom will be looking to turn around the final years of his career, beginning with a contract year season Dallas this upcoming season.After signing with the Wild in the off-season as a UFA, it was expected that the former Mr Irrelevant (the final pick in the draft) would become an offensive stalwart on the Minnesota blueline. As it turned out, that was not to be and Johnsson finished the season with numbers that surely didn’t reflect the lucrative contract he signed with the team.

Johnson will have another two seasons to earn his $4.85 million with the Wild…surely Minnesota fans will be hoping that he can rebound.
Third Defensive Pair
Marek Zidlicky*
Nashville Predators
12-37-49 in 67 games
3rd Appearance
Greg de Vries
Atlanta Thrashers
3-21-24 in 82 games
1st 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…
In his third season of eligibility, Greg de Vries finally made it onto the All-Star roster. Despite recording eleven fewer points than his career season last year with the Thrashers, de Vries is probably deserving of the spot on the team, even if it came at the expense of former Ranger great Brian Leetch who was ineligible after sitting out the entire season before retiring.

Like Holik, de Vries had the chance to go up against his former team in the playoffs and was largely a non-factor in the series loss. The former undrafted defenseman will continue his career in Nashville next season.
Johan Holmqvist*
Tampa Bay Lightning
27-15-3 in 48 games 2.85 GAA .893 S%
1st Appearance
Jussi Markkanen
Edmonton Oilers
5-9-1 in 22 games 3.14 GAA .886 S%
3rd Appearance
There are probably few people if any, including Holmqvist himself, who expected the former Rangers’ draft pick to have the year he had last season. Signed as a backup to start the season, it didn’t take long for the Swede to secure the starting position, which he held onto for the entire season.

His 27 wins is the most by a former Ranger netminder since Dan Cloutier picked up 33 in 2003-04 and he’ll get a chance to improve on it in 2007-08 when he returns with the Bolts.
After appearing in the Stanley Cup finals, Markkanen once again found himself back in the familiar role of backup goaltender, unable to push for a starting role once again during the season. Markkanen made modest improvents on his 05-06 GAA and Sv% stats, but is yet to sign an NHL contract for 07-08 and may end up returning to Europe.
Pascal Dupuis
Minnesota Wild / New York Rangers / Atlanta Thrashers
14-5-19 in 71 games
1st Appearance
Mikael Samuelsson
Detroit Red Wings
14-20-34 in 53 games 1st Appearance
Bryan Berard
Columbus Blue Jackets
2-3-5 in 11 games
2nd Appearance (0 as starter)
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