The NHL waiver draft has been a sedate affair in recent years, but that all change this season with the Rangers involved in six separate moves. After the dust had settled, the Rangers had bid adieu to Ronald Petrovicky, Jeff Heerema and Shawn Heins, and had added Sheldon Keefe and Mike Siklenka, while reacquiring Joel Bouchard.
New York started off by selecting Sheldon Keefe, a smallish, gritty forward who left his team after being assigned to the minors. The 5’11” Keefe, has shown some ability at the NHL level, but the Lightning elected to expose him in the draft and the Rangers obliged by selecting him with their first pick. The Rangers then lost Ronald Petrovicky (Atlanta), Jeff Heerema (St Louis) and Shawn Heins (Atlanta), which prompted them to take Bouchard from Buffalo and Siklenka from Philadelphia.
Bouchard drew some interest from Rangers GM Glen Sather over the summer, but the journeyman defenseman elected to sign with the new-look Sabres. With Leetch out for an undetermined length of time, Malakhov returning from off-season shoulder surgery and prospect Bryce Lampman out with a shoulder injury, it perhaps forced Sather’s hand a little. Siklenka by contrast appears to be another project featuring a big forward with limited NHL skills.
Rumors have suggested that Darius Kasparaitis was exposed as a result of the Keefe selection, but there has been of course no official confirmation from the league or team.
Sheldon Keefe, Right Wing
Career Record: 12G 12A 24Pts 78PIM in 125 NHL games
2002-03 Stats: 2G 5A 7Pts 24PIM in 37 NHL games
Joel Bouchard, Defense
Career Record: 20G 38A 58Pts 231PIM in 311 NHL games
2002-03 Stats: 5G 8A 13Pts 14PIM in 34 games
Mike Siklenka, Right Wing
Career Record: 0G 0A 0Pts 0PIM in 1 NHL game
2002-03 Stats: 0G 0A 0Pts 0PIM in 1 game