A Look at the Newest Blueshirt Prospects and Picks
/ New York Rangers
With the flurry of trades surrounding the Rangers leading up to the 2004 NHL Trade Deadline, newyorkrangers.com sheds some light on the collection of promising prospects (25-and-under) and several draft choices that the organization has acquired in deals with the Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks (players listed in alphabetical order / M. Kondratiev - right):
Jozef Balej – RW / 6-1 / 191 lbs. / AGE: 22
HOW ACQUIRED: March 2, 2004 - From Montreal, along with a 2004 second round draft choice in exchange for Alex Kovalev.
SCOUTING REPORT: A very good skater with great hands ... Possesses a hard, accurate shot ... Shows good puck control ... Drives to the net and is willing to pay the price if he has a chance to create a play ... Is an offensive threat on every shift ... Needs to gain strength but shows a good work ethic and courage on the ice ... A very good upside to his game.
2003-04: Led the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League (AHL) in every offensive category, while also ranking first on the club with a plus-19 rating … Is tied for third overall in the AHL with 25 tallies and is tied for fifth in scoring with 58 points … Was selected as a member of the PlanetUSA squad at the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic on February 9.
MISC. NOTES: Member of the WHL West Team for the Canadian Hockey League All-Star Game Series as a member of the Portland Winter Hawks (2001-02) … Member of the WHL West Team for the Canadian Hockey League All-Star Game Series as a member of the Portland Winter Hawks (2000-01) … Member of the Slovakian National Junior Team (2000-01).
Blair Betts – F / 6-3 / 200 lbs. / AGE: 24
HOW ACQUIRED: March 6, 2004 - From Calgary, along with forward Greg Moore and goaltender Jamie McLennan from the Calgary Flames in exchange for left wing Chris Simon and a seventh round draft choice in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
SCOUTING REPORT: Very good anticipation on the forecheck ... Possesses a quick stick and is a solid passer ... A strong face-off guy ... Plays with intensity level ... Always puts forth a solid, two-way effort.
2003-04: Is sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury ... Skated in 20 matches with Calgary prior to the injury, registering one goal and two assists for three points, along with 10 penalty minutes.
MISC. NOTES: Has appeared in 35 career contests with Calgary, collecting three goals and five assists for eight points, along with 12 penalty minutes ... Scored his first career NHL goal in his NHL regular season debut on April 4, 2002 vs. Minnesota (Manny Fernandez) ... Was a member of the 2000-01 Calder Cup championship Saint John Flames team ... Represented Canada at the 1999 World Junior Championship, appearing in five games and capturing a silver medal ... Collected two assists in five games with Canada at the 2001 Spengler Cup, en route to a silver medal finish.
Alexandre Giroux – F / 6-3 / 200 lbs. / AGE: 22
HOW ACQUIRED: March 9, 2004 - March 9 from the Ottawa Senators, along with Karel Rachunek, in exchange for Greg de Vries.
SCOUTING REPORT: An above average skater who shows good speed ... Gets in on the forecheck and finishes his checks hard ... Is defensively responsible ... Plays both ends of the ice effectively ... Shows good energy on a consistent basis ... Possesses good size ... A hard worker who gets involved ... Drives hard to the net ... Shows a good upside as a prospect.
2003-04: Has appeared in 59 games with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season, registering 19 goals and 23 assists for 42 points, along with 79 penalty minutes. He currently ranks second on the team with 42 points and is first with a plus-15 rating. His 19 goals and 23 assists each rank second on the team as well.
MISC. NOTES: Was originally Ottawa’s seventh round choice, 213th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft ... In 196 career AHL matches with Binghamton and Grand Rapids, has tallied 49 goals and 55 assists for 104 points, along with 254 penalty minutes ... Played junior hockey with the Hull Olumpiques and Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) from 1998-2001.
Mike Green – F / 5-11 / 190 lbs. / AGE: 24
HOW ACQUIRED: March 9, 2004 - Claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers.
SCOUTING REPORT: A good skater ... Drives hard to the net and creates offensive chances ... Passes the puck well and has good vision on the ice ... Can play in all game situations, including power play and penalty killing.
2003-04: Has skated in 11 matches with the Florida Panthers this season, registering one assist and two penalty minutes ... Made his NHL debut on February 3 at San Jose and recorded his first NHL point on February 12 vs. Pittsburgh ... Has also appeared in 45 matches with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League (AHL), registering 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 points, along with 16 penalty minutes.
MISC. NOTES: Has skated in 171 career AHL games with San Antonio, the Louisville Panthers and Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, recording 42 goals and 67 assists for 109 points, along with 49 penalty minutes ... Signed with Florida as a free agent on April 7, 2000.
Martin Grenier – D / 6-5 / 245 lbs. / AGE: 23
HOW ACQUIRED: March 9, 2004 - from the Vancouver Canucks, along with the rights to unsigned draft choice R.J. Umberger, in exchange for Martin Rucinsky.
SCOUTING REPORT: Is very sound in his own zone and is strong on the puck ... Is a good passer ... Hits hard ... Keeps the opposition honest with his strong, physical presence ... Needs to keep his game simple to be effective ... Looks after his teammates and does not back down from a challenge ... Has the size to be a presence in the NHL.
2003-04: Has skated in seven matches with the Vancouver Canucks this season, registering one goal, along with nine penalty minutes ... Tallied his first NHL goal on February 3 vs. the New York Islanders ... Has also appeared in 38 matches with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League (AHL), registering five goals and four assists for nine points, along with 145 penalty minutes ... Ranked first on Manitoba with 145 penalty minutes and a plus-6 rating at the time of the trade.
MISC. NOTES: Has appeared in 15 career NHL matches with Vancouver and the Phoenix Coyotes, registering one goal, along with 14 penalty minutes ... Has also skated in 180 career AHL matches with Manitoba and the Springfield Falcons, registering nine goals and 20 assists for 29 points, along with 618 penalty minutes ... Spent four seasons (1997-2001) with the Quebec Remparts and the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) ... Was originally the Colorado Avalanche’s second round choice, 45th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
Dwight Helminen – C / 6-0 / 200 lbs. / AGE: 20
HOW ACQUIRED: March 2, 2004 - From Edmonton, along with a 2004 second round draft choice and goaltender Stephen Valiquette in exchange for Petr Nedved and Jussi Markkanen.
SCOUTING REPORT: A terrific skater who is both quick and fast … Very effective on the forecheck … A solid all-around player … His speed and skating ability make him a constant threat on the ice … Possesses excellent hands and shows good skill with the puck in the offensive zone … Displays good anticipation and is a smart player … A premiere penalty killer.
2003-04: Ranks second on the University of Michigan Wolverines (CCHA) with 13 goals and ranks fifth on the team with 23 points … Tallied a career-high four goals on four shots in Michigan’s 7-1 victory over Ohio State on January 10 … Named CCHA Offensive Player of the Week with a three-point series against Ohio State on November 14 and 15.
MISC. NOTES: Tied for third on Michigan with 33 points (17 goals, 16 assists) and posted career-bests in all scoring categories … Tied for the team lead in post-season scoring with six goals and one assist for seven points, leading to his selection to the CCHA Super Six All-Tournament team during the 2003 post-season … Has represented the United States in two World Junior Championship tournaments – 2002 (one goal in seven games) and 2003 (one goal and three assists in seven games).
Jarkko Immonen – C / 6-1 / 200 lbs. / AGE: 21
HOW ACQUIRED: March 3, 2004 - From Toronto, along with defenseman Maxim Kondratiev, a 2004 first round draft choice and a 2005 second round draft choice in exchange for Brian Leetch and a conditional draft choice.
SCOUTING REPORT: Protects the puck well … A stocky forward with a low center of gravity … Possesses good hockey sense … A smart hockey player … Not overly quick but has very good hands and a strong understanding of the game … Shows signs of seeing the ice and making solid passes … Can find the open player almost every time he passes … Can read the game will on both the offensive and defensive side of the puck … A smart two-way player … Is good on face-offs and is responsible defensively … Will progress to the next level on his sense and determination … Possesses a cannon of a shot … Can stickhandle well at top speed, making him a dangerous player on the rush … Possesses a strong, competitive approach … Is strong on the puck and along the boards … Doesn’t shy away from contact but has a terrific ability to read a play, which helps him avoid getting hit … Plays a team-oriented game in all three zones … His crafty hands and hockey sense make him a solid prospect as a playmaking center.
2003-04: Has appeared in 50 matches this season with JYP Jyvaskyla of the Finnish Elite League, registering 20 goals and 23 assists for 43 points, along with 28 penalty minutes. He ranks first on the team with 43 points and is second with 23 assists.
MISC. NOTES: Ranked third on JYP Jyvaskyla with 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists), along with 34 penalty minutes in 56 matches in 2002-03 … Was named the top forward at the 2003 Karjala Cup in Finland, where he represented his country for just the second time at the senior level … Was a member of Finland’s National Junior Team in 2001-02, collecting four goals and three assists for seven points, along with six penalty minutes in seven games ... Was selected by The Hockey News as Toronto's fifth highest rated prospect and second highest rated team center in the publication's 2004 'Future Watch' issue.
Maxim Kondratiev – D / 6-1 / 195 lbs. / AGE: 21
HOW ACQUIRED: March 3, 2004 - From Toronto, along with center Jarkko Immonen, a 2004 first round draft choice and a 2005 second round draft choice in exchange for Brian Leetch and a conditional draft choice.
SCOUTING REPORT: Mobility and skill are very good … Plays with an edge … A good skater and puck handler, who possesses a very hard shot … A solid all-around defenseman who can both defend and jump into the play offensively … Is a mentally tough player … Competes hard for the puck … Is strong in the corners and in front of the net and likes to play a physical game … Has a very low panic point with the puck and makes smart, effective passes up the ice … Possesses good defensive instincts and a natural knack for defensive zone coverage … Toronto’s ‘6th round steal’ of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
2003-04: Began the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, appearing in seven games and collecting two penalty minutes, before an assignment to St. John’s of the AHL … Skated in 18 matches with St. John’s, registering three goals and five assists for eight points, along with 10 penalty minutes. Returned to Russia after his AHL stint and has since appeared in 23 games with Lada Togliatti of the Russian Hockey League, registering two goals and three assists for five points, along with 53 penalty minutes.
MISC. NOTES: Represented Russia at the 2002 and 2003 World Junior Championships, helping them capture the gold medal both years … Was selected as Russia’s Player of the Game in the 2002 gold medal match … Was teammates with Blueshirt defenseman Fedor Tyutin on both clubs … Lists Slava Fetisov as his favorite hockey player … Was selected by The Hockey News as Toronto's fourth highest rated prospect and second highest rated team defenseman in the publication's 2004 'Future Watch' issue.
Rick Kozak – RW / 6-2 / 210 lbs. / AGE: 18
HOW ACQUIRED: March 8, 2004 - From Philadelphia, along with a 2005 second round draft choice in exchange for defenseman Vladimir Malakhov.
SCOUTING REPORT: Finishes his checks and enjoys the physical part of the game ... Causes turnovers with his size and aggressiveness ... Possesses good hands and has a hard shot ... A well-rounded player ... Is a decent skater but is very strong on his skates ... Plays tough on a consistent basis and does not back down from a challenge.
2003-04: Has skated in 51 matches with the Kamloops Blazers and Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this season, registering 13 goals and seven assists for 20 points, along with 153 penalty minutes ... Currently ranks second on the Blazers with 153 penalty minutes and sixth with 13 goals.
MISC. NOTES: Was Philadelphia's third round choice, 95th overall, in the 203 NHL Entry Draft ... Tied for fourth on Brandon (WHL) with 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 16 post-season games last season ... His 51 penalty minutes led the club during the 2002-03 playoffs ... Was teammates in Brandon (WHL) with Nashville Predators forward Jordin Tootoo during the 2002-03 season.
David Liffiton – D / 6-2 / 202 lbs. / AGE: 19
HOW ACQUIRED: March 9, 2004 - From Colorado, along with defenseman Chris McAllister and a 2004 second round draft chocie in exchange for right wing Matthew Barnaby and a third round draft choice in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
SCOUTING REPORT: A strong skater with good speed and mobility ... A strong backskater with good lateral movement ... Very difficult to beat one-on-one ... A solid positional player in the defensive zone ... A good shot blocker ... Possesses good puckhandling skills and makes a good first pass ... Is used in all game situations ... Possesses a hard, accurate shot from the point ... Exhibits good hockey sense and anticipates the play well ... Is a tough competitor who plays with poise and confidence ... Gives a solid effort every shift ... A sound body checker who finishes his hits ... Effectively clears forwards from the front of the net and will not be intimidated ... Does not shy away from physical play.
2003-04: Has skated in 43 matches with Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this season, registering two goals and nine assists for 11 points, along with 78 penalty minutes. He currently ranks seventh on the team with 78 penalty minutes.
MISC. NOTES: Has appeared in 169 career matches with Plymouth (OHL), registering 10 goals and 29 assists for 39 points, along with 282 penalty minutes ... Participated in the 2003 CHL Top Prospects Game for Team Orr ... Emmulates the style of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote ... On his defensive game: "There's no point in trying to be Bobby Orr when I know I'm not. I'm going to stick with what I'm good at." ... Great grandfather, Ernie Liffiton, has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Montreal Wanderers in 1908.
Greg Moore – F / 6-1 / 207 lbs. / AGE: 19
HOW ACQUIRED: March 6, 2004 - From Calgary, along with forward Blair Betts and goaltender Jamie McLennan in exchange for left wing Chris Simon and a seventh round draft choice in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
SCOUTING REPORT: Displays a hard-working, competitive approach to his game ... Is strong on his skates and strong on the puck ... Possesses a solid work ethic ... Shows good strength and hockey sense ... Is a tough player to play against ... Shows enthusiasm on the ice ... Is aggressive on the puck ... Displays consistent intensity ... Battles hard along the boards and in the corners ... Is aggressive, physical and tough on the puck ... Displays good anticipation and makes sound decisions ... Gives and receives passes well ... Works hard up and down the ice in all three zones.
2003-04: Has appeared in 30 matches with the University of Maine Black Bears of Hockey East (HE), registering 14 goals and eight assists for 22 points, along with 42 penalty minutes ... His 22 points rank fifth on the team, while his 14 goals are tied for second.
MISC. NOTES: Named Hockey East Rookie of the Week for the period ending November 18, 2002 after scoring a goal and an assist in back-to-back wins over Northeastern and Boston University ... Tallied his first collegiate goal in 8-1 win over Lake Superior State University on October 12, 2002 ... Collected three assists and two penalty minutes in six games with the gold-medal-winning United States squad at the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland ... Appeared in seven games with the United States at the 2003 IIHF World Junior Champiosnhip ... Captured a gold medal with the United States Under-18 Team at the 2002 IIHF World Under-18 Championship ... Served as assistant captain of the team.
Karel Rachunek – D / 6-2 / 212 lbs. / AGE: 24
HOW ACQUIRED: March 9, 2004 - From the Ottawa Senators, along with Alexandre Giroux, in exchange for Greg de Vries.
SCOUTING REPORT: Shows good poise and confidence with and without the puck in his own end ... Can make a simple outlet pass and will join the rush when the opportunity presents itself ... Keeps his game fairly simple ... Is sound in all zones ... Possesses very good passing skills and a good shot ... A smart, sound player.
2003-04: Has skated in 60 matches with the Ottawa Senators this season, registering one goal and 16 assists for 17 points, along with 29 penalty minutes ... Was tied for third among Ottawa defenseman with 17 points and was tied for sixth on the team with a plus-17 rating at the time of the trade ... Ranked fourth on Ottawa in average time on ice (19:43) ... Appeared in his 200th NHL match on November 6 vs. Carolina.
MISC. NOTES: A native of Gottwaldov, Czech Republic ... Has appeared in 246 career matches with Ottawa, registering 11 goals and 86 assists for 97 points, along with 145 penalty minutes ... Has also skated in 20 playoff contests with the Senators, registering one goal and three assists for four points, along with 14 penalty minutes ... Was selected to skate in the NHL YoungStars Game during the NHL All-Star Weekend on January 17, 2002 ... Finished second among all NHL rookies with a plus-17 rating and was third with 30 assists in 2000-01 ... Was originally Ottawa’s ninth round choice, 229th overall, in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.
R.J. Umberger – C / 6-2 / 200 lbs. / AGE: 21
HOW ACQUIRED: March 9, 2004 - From the Vancouver Canucks, along with Martin Grenier, in exchange for Martin Rucinsky.
SCOUTING REPORT: Possesses a strong body and stride ... Possesses very good puck skills ... Is strong on the puck .. Created good opportunities for himself and his linemates with his skill.
MISC. NOTES: Appeared in 112 career matches with the Ohio State Buckeyes (CCHA), registering 58 goals and 71 assists for 129 points, along with 65 penalty minutes ... Garnered several honors at Ohio State, including being selected the CCHA’s Rookie of the Year in 2001 and being selected to the 2001 CCHA All-Rookie Team ... Was also named to the 2003 CCHA First All-Star Team and the 2003 NCAA Second All-American Team ... Was Vancouver’s first round selection, 16th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.