2002-03-23 / Sports

The Rocket Has Landed A Metro Hockey Update

By Andrei Petrovitch

By Andrei Petrovitch

Someone oughtta call the cops

With apologies to the band Jane's Addiction, Glen Sather's been caught stealing again. The Rangers' General Manager acquired Pavel Bure and a second-round draft choice in 2002 from the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Igor Ulanov, prospect Filip Novak, and the Rangers' first and fourth-round draft choices in 2002. This was the second deal for Sather in the past two weeks, as Manny Malhotra and Barrett Heisten were dealt to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Martin Rucinsky and Roman Lyashenko.

Although the merits of the latter deal are still debatable (two big young players in Malhotra and Heisten for an aging winger and underachieving checking center, respectively?), the Bure deal was absolute thievery. The Rangers are loaded with blueline prospects such as Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Aufiero – thus making Novak expendable. Igor Ulanov was such a waste of time and money that trading him for a used jockstrap and a half-eaten jelly donut would have made perfect sense.

The only significant loss is the first round pick, but by acquiring Florida's second rounder, the Rangers actually improve their position in the later stages of the draft. Besides, with the hockey talent base being watered down by over-expansion and economics, this year's entry draft crop of young prospects isn't exactly exciting.

The downside? Well, the already defensively weak Rangers have added yet another one-way player in Pavel Bure. His habit of standing by the blueline to take off on the breakaway (instead of coming back into the zone to help out on defense) has enraged coaches and teammates in the past. He is also regarded as moody, and occasionally disinterested in being a true team leader. He's also very expensive, with a guaranteed $22 million due to him over the next two seasons.

However, Bure's upside can be described in one word: WOW! Ever since breaking into the league with the Vancouver Canucks in 1991, Pavel Bure has consistently been one of the most exciting and creative players in the league. Blessed with superhuman speed and stickhandling prowess, he has scored more than 50 goals five times in his career and has even reached 60…twice! In this day and age of the neutral-zone trap and clutch-and-grab defense, Bure has led the league in goals three times, and is in 65th place all-time with his career tally of 405.

Ranger fans are already familiar with what he can do, as they watched him nearly sabotage the Ranger's championship hopes in the 1994 Stanley Cup finals (you do remember 1994, don't you?). Although the blueshirts triumphed in that series, the impression that New York City made on Bure ultimately fueled his desire to play here.

Yes, Pavel Bure won't help the penalty killing. Yes, he comes at the cost of a young player. And yes, his arrival doesn't guarantee a playoff spot. But when the advantages are weighed in comparison, it is clear that the team is better with Bure than without.

Chalk up yet another theft for Glen Sather!

York out of New York

In a deal just announced at press time, Sather traded Mike York to the Edmonton Oilers for Rem Murray and Tom Poti.

While it is rather painful to see such a solid, hard working, two-way forward like Mike York go, the flipside is that the Rangers acquired a young defenseman for once in Poti. Meanwhile, Rem Murray adds size and scoring depth to a Ranger team that, until the past 24 hours, lacked both.

Isles add depth with Roche, Van Impe

The Islanders bolstered their defense right before the 3:00 PM EST trade deadline by acquiring veteran blueliner Darren Van Impe from the Florida Panthers for a fifth-round draft choice. Van Impe played with the Rangers earlier in the season before being claimed off waivers by the Panthers. The team also picked up winger Dave Roche from the Anaheim Mighty ducks in exchange for some minor-leaguers.

Van Impe makes sense. He played for the Boston Bruins last year when current Isles head coach was an assistant on that team, and possesses solid skating ability and a work ethic to match. He can help the injury-scarred Islanders on their blueline while Roman Hamrlik and Kenny Jonsson recover from injuries. Roche, on the other hand, makes little sense. He's not known for his skating, and his ability to contribute offense to an Islander team that needs consistent scoring depth is non-existent. He's certainly big, measuring at 6-4, 225 lbs., but not particularly aggressive.

Devils lock and load for another Cup run

After seeing his team struggle mightily to score goals, New Jersey Devil's GM Lou Lamoriello pulled the trigger on a major deal. The Devils received two-time Stanley Cup winner Joe Nieuwendyk and winger Jamie Lagenbrunner from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Jason Arnott, Randy McKay, and a first-round draft choice.

The deal is tilted in favor of the Devils, as the team finally acquires a consistent (albeit aging) goal-scoring center in Nieuwendyk. Lagenbrunner, meanwhile, is a solid two-way forward who can help the second and third lines. The center-heavy Stars, on the other hand, receive yet another pivot in Arnott. Although he is big and relatively young, Arnott is very inconsistent and has never lived up to hype he received when he scored 33 goals as a rookie for the Edmonton Oilers back in 1994.

Although it's unfair to have expected him to become a superstar in the first place, the fact remains that Jason Arnott has been miscast as the "go-to" leader for the Devils and is probably best suited for the supporting role he will play in Dallas. Randy McKay is certainly no big loss; while he was a popular presence in the locker room, his scoring touch has diminished and Jim McKenzie and Brian Gionta have filled Mckay's role as both tough guy and power play specialist, respectively.

The Devils also reacquired winger Stephane Richer from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a late round draft choice. Although in the twilight of his career, Richer does give Devils coach Kevin Constantine an additional option on the right side.

The Real March Madness

The March trade deadline has come and gone, with lots of deals made. Here are some of the more interesting trades: Detroit acquires defenseman Jiri Slegr in exchange for center Yuri Butsayev and a draft pick; the Colo rado Avalanche get defenseman Darius Kaspairitus for VilleNieminem and Rick Berry; the Montreal Canadiens acquire goalie Stephan Fiset from the Los Angeles Kings for a 5th round draft choice; the St. Louis Blues acquire center Ray Ferraro for a draft choice.

Of all these deals, the most significant is probably the Colorado deal, as the move bolsters their already formidable blueline corps and helps the team match up better with conference rival Detroit.

Brittanie Cecil: 1988-2002

We here at the Wave are saddened at the news that 13-year old hockey fan Brittanie Cecil died from injuries incurred from a freak accident at a Columbus Blue Jackets game over the weekend. Cecil was struck in the head with puck that had been accidentally deflected in the crowd. Although she was thought to be fine at first, Cecil eventually developed complications from the injury and died.

If she had recovered, she would have been celebrating her 14th birthday this Wednesday. Our condolences go out to her family.

For more trade news and assessments, check out the following websites:

www.hockeybird.com

www.Sportingnews.com

www.Sportsline.com

Don't forget to check out this column next week, when we ask the BIG question:

Are the ISLANDERS for real?


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