NY Rangers And A Host of Signings

Plenty of prospects and NHLers were signed these past few weeks. What do they all mean to the future of the Rangers franchise?

NHL Level

Tom Poti - Poti was awarded an arbitration salary of 1.8 million for one year. A definite win for the Poti camp as he looks to build on the surge he had upon joining the Rangers. He is still only 23 and is looked at as a power play wizard and will be heavily counted on as Leetch continues to age. He should be on the number 1 pairing on the power play and log plenty of ice time this year. Look for him to assume scapegoat status if the team does not fare as well as anticipated as he was traded for a fan favorite in NY, Mike York.

Roman Lyashenko - Roman is in an interesting spot. After being traded to the Rangers from Dallas last year in the deal that also brought over Martin Rucinsky for Manny Malhotra, he finds himself in a very similar position to Malhotra. Roman is a defensive minded center that is not as big as Manny but still is very responsible in his own end. If he hopes to make a bigger impact this season on the Rangers he really needs to work on his faceoffs as he was abysmal in that category last year.

Possible NHL Futures

Richard Lintner - Richard was traded from Nashville to the Rangers in a deal that saw Petr Smrek go to Nashville. Playing with MoDo of Swedish Elite League last year he will make the transition over to the NHL for the second time. He has already played in 83 matches with the Nashville Predators and at 6'3 212 lbs. he could be a very valuable asset and certainly a dark horse to make the team as a 7th defenseman. Richard is still only 24 and has seen plenty of time in the AHL to go with his NHL tenure.

Notes: With so many defenseman on the NHL squad and looking at the service time of some of the recent signings it is quite possible that these players will be traded or could have to pass through waivers on route to the AHL. I do not expect all of these guys to stay with the club and it looks as if a similar situation that happened to Darren Van Impe last season who was claimed off waivers by Florida in December.

Joel Bouchard - Joel is an AHL veteran defenseman who has played in the NHL signed to replace those who left the roster this off-season. He will be counted on to mentor some of the young guns that will line the Hartford team this year and will be available for emergency call up if needed. He has skated in 277 career NHL matches and could be useful as a stopgap if injuries sideline some of the current Ranger squad.

Vladimir Chebaturkin - Vladimir was signed as another Defenseman with plenty of NHL service time who can step in should injuries haunt the Ranger club. As many teams are always looking towards a veteran defenseman he could eventually become trade bait if the Ranger team stays healthy through camp.

Brandon Snee - Brandon will be fighting for 4 spots between Charlotte and Hartford with 5 goalies vying for spots. Brandon had a stellar career playing for a weak team at Union College. He will be in Charlotte this year and has a bright future. The other goalies battling for these 4 spots are Jason Labarbera, Johan Holmqvist, Scott Meyer and Bryce Wandler.

Notes: Jason will be sitting out the first 18 games due to a suspension he incurred at the end of last season for throwing a stick that hit a kid on the runway to the dressing room after he had a bad game. He has served one of those games. Scott Meyer is a Group II restricted free agent who has yet to be resigned at the time of this article but cannot sign anywhere else unless his rights are traded.

Johan Holmqvist - Holmqvist was resigned to backstop the Hartford team. His competition is stiff in Jason Labarbera and possibly Scott Meyer. Johan had his chance and with the emergence of Daniel Blackburn as the heir to the Richter throne the battle is for a backup job in the NHL 2 years from now. Johan has not posted great numbers and will need to rebound if he is to be considered NHL bound.

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