by Charles Solomon
The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and hockey is beginning to consume our brains. We are now merely days away from the start of the season. Our beloved Blueshirts are set to open the season this Wednesday in Raleigh, against last year’s Eastern Conference champions. As anticipation builds, many people continue to ask the usual questions about Lindros’ head, Richter and Bure’s knees, team chemistry, and coaching. However, this is shaping up to be the year the Rangers finally make big statements.
The Rangers have all the necessary ingredients to explode out of the Eastern Conference this season. They sport the most dangerous line in their respective conference, and possibly the entire NHL. Nobody questions what Lindros, Bure, and Nedved can do if they are healthy. The Rangers have other quality forwards in: Dvorak, Lundmark (who finally looks ready for the Broadway spotlight), Samuelsson, Holik, Messier, McCarthy, Barnaby, and Murray. Does anyone remember a Rangers team with this much quality depth at the forward position? This does not mean the Rangers can win if Lindros gets knocked out for several months, but if he does get injured for ten to fifteen games, the Rangers have enough support players to stay competitive.
The Rangers also sport a uniquely talented group of defensemen. Poti, Leetch, Malakhov, and Kasparaitis (who has looked great in pre-season) will be dominant. The Rangers also have at least four defensemen: Karpa, Lefebrve, Kloucek, and Purinton. After pre-season, I am high on Lintner’s potential and Bouchard’s ability to be a stable call-up guy.
To win, the coaching staff must make the Rangers at least as good as the sum of their parts. From the Richter and Blackburn to Pavel and Eric, this team has the goods. The coaches must make them deliver on their promise. It’s Trottier and his staff’s job to finally make the Rangers play like a desperate hockey team. Evidently, if the theme of desperation and pride can finally get through some of the major egos of this team, they will be as good as they could be. Lastly, you know you things are looking bright when Espn.com’s John Buccigross picks the Rangers to win the conference.
Rumbles and grumbles:
Sather is resuming talks with Rucinsky’s agent. A month ago, Slats said that the Rangers have too much young talent to want to bring along Rucinsky at three million per. However, Slats recently said that the Rangers could always use a player of Rucinsky’s skill. I suspect Slats avoided signing Rucinsky because he knew all along he could sign Martin, but if he did earlier, he would have had to expose someone else for the waiver draft.
Rumors also persist that Edmonton will move either Mike Grier, Todd Marchant, Marty Reasoner (who went unclaimed during the waiver draft) or package them for a defenseman. The most discussed destination for these players, you guessed it, the New York Rangers. Can someone please tell me what we need more mediocre forwards for?? We are the one’s who need a puck moving defenseman. However, if we could swing the deal and include Anson Carter, that would be a whole other story. By the way, and this is pure speculation, I would expect Lowe is looking at Kloucek, Lintner, and or Tyutin. There is no way he would be dumb enough to take Lefebvre or Karpa from us.