Get the broom, the Ranger’s GM is cleaning house after last year’s “Team Review”. After having an impressive 42 different players in Rangers Red White and Blue last season, the reports are in and a lot of guys failed.
It started towards the end of last season with the moving of Alexei Gusarov and Eric Lacroix, and has continued through the summer. Sather is attempting to mould the team after his own image after a disappointing first season
Beyond the moves at the NHL level, the real changes will be felt in Hartford where the Wolfpack will see many a new face. Gone are veterans Bannister, Wilkie, Armstrong, Doig, Henry, Dessner and Tuzzolino with a couple more expected to be on their way out of town before the October 13th season opener.
In their place, a collection of prospects with a few veterans sprinkled in the mix. The big catch though, will be the possible addition of two Blue Chip prospects in Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark. The pair of 1999 first round draftees have completed their junior assignment and will attempt to claim a place on the Rangers, chances are they’ll have to spend some time with John Paddock in Hartford to improve their game and gain some much needed experience and they will looked to provide a great deal of the scoring lost with Armstrong and possibly Smyth.
The off-season signings of Layne Ulmer, Matt Kinch and Barrett Heisten also promise to add some excitement to the team in the way of scoring, and some physical play by the sort after Heisten.
This team will be well protected via the acquisitions of Gosselin, St Croix, Gagnon and Freadrich, although it remains to be seen who goes to Charlotte and who stays with the Pack. Kyle Freadrich looks especially imposing with his 6’7″ 260lb frame, but he has a long way to go to move beyond a single role hockey player.
The trio of goalies from last year (Holmqvist, Yeremeyev and Labarbera) could be joined by Scott Meyer, signed from the UHL. Yeremeyev signed a new contract this off-season and will look to continue his AHL form and will battle Holmqvist and a newly determined Labarbera for the starting job.
With this kind of added depth, the future looks much brighter for the Rangers and for the Wolfpack.