The NHL trading deadline passed this afternoon with the New York Rangers acquiring numerous promising prospects and several draft choices in the upcoming 2004 and 2005 NHL Entry Drafts. As a result of their recent transactions, New York now posseses two first round selections and four second round selections in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, as well as one first round and three second round selections in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. In addition to the multiple draft choices, here is a look at the young prospects (ages 25-and-under) that President and General Manager Glen Sather was able to add to the Rangers future:Jozef Balej
, 22, was acquired on March 2 from the Montreal Canadiens, along with a 2004 second round draft choice, in exchange for Alex Kovalev. He is currently fifth overall in the American Hockey League (AHL) with 58 points (25 goals, 33 assists). Balej was also selected as a member of the PlanetUSA squad at the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic on February 9.
The 6-1, 191-pounder has appeared in 111 career AHL contests with Hamilton and Hartford, registering 30 goals and 48 assists for 78 points, along with 61 penalty minutes. Prior to turning professional, Balej spent three seasons (1999-2002) with the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL). In 176 career matches with Portland (WHL), Balej tallied 105 goals and 85 assists for 190 points, along with 103 penalty minutes. In his final season in 2002, he collected 51 goals and 41 assists for 92 points in 65 matches and was named to the WHL West First All-Star Team. The native of Myjava, Slovakia was originally Montreal's third round selection, 78th overall, in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Blair Betts
, 24, was acquired on March 6 from the Calgary Flames, along with Jamie McLennan and Greg Moore, in exchange for left wing Chris Simon and a seventh round draft choice in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He skated in 20 matches with Calgary this season, registering one goal and two assists for three points, along with 10 penalty minutes. He is currently sidelined due to a shoulder injury and will miss the remainder of the season. The 6-3, 200-pounder has appeared in 35 career contests with the Calgary Flames, collecting three goals and five assists for eight points, along with 12 penalty minutes. Betts scored his first career NHL goal in his NHL regular season debut vs. Minnesota on April 4, 2002 (Manny Fernandez). He recorded his first professional assist on March 18, 2003 at Los Angeles. As a member of Calgary's top minor league affiliate, the Saint John Flames, Betts registered 39 goals and 51 assists for 90 points, along with 44 penalty minutes in 161 games. He was a member of the 2000-01 Calder Cup championship team in Saint John, posting two goals and three assists for five points in 19 post-season matches.
Prior to joining the professional ranks, Betts skated in 215 games for the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League (WHL), registering 91 goals and 116 assists for 207 points. He finished his junior career as Prince George's all-time scoring leader with 207 points. Internationally, Betts was a member of the Team Canada's entry in the 1999 World Junior Championships and the 2001 Spengler Cup, helping both teams capture the silver medal. The native of Edmonton, Alberta was originally Calgary's second selection, 33rd overall, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. Alexandre Giroux
, 22, was acquired on March 9 from the Ottawa Senators, along with Karel Rachunek, in exchange for Greg de Vries. He 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.
In 196 career AHL matches with Binghamton and the Grand Rapids Griffins, the 6-3, 200-pound winger has tallied 49 goals and 55 assists for 104 points, along with 254 penalty minutes. Prior to his professional career, the native of Quebec City, Quebec spent three seasons (1998-2001) with the Hull Olumpiques and Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Giroux was originally Ottawa's seventh round choice, 213th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.Mike Green
, 24, was claimed off waivers on March 9 from the Florida Panthers. He has skated in 11 matches with the Panthers this season, registering one assist and two penalty minutes. He made his NHL debut on February 3 at San Jose and recorded his first NHL point on February 12 vs. Pittsburgh. He 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.
The 5-11, 190-pound native of Calgary, Alberta 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. Green signed with Florida as a free agent on April 7, 2000.Martin Grenier
, 23, was acquired on March 9 from the Vancouver Canucks, along with the rights to unsigned draft choice R.J. Umberger, in exchange for Martin Rucinsky. He has skated in seven matches with Vancouver this season, registering one goal, along with nine penalty minutes. He tallied his first NHL goal on February 3 vs. the New York Islanders. He 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. He currently ranks first on Manitoba with 145 penalty minutes and a plus-6 rating.
A native of Laval, Quebec, Grenier has appeared in 15 career matches with Vancouver and the Phoenix Coyotes, registering one goal, along with 14 penalty minutes. He 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. Before turning professional, Grenier spent four seasons (1997-2001) with the Quebec Remparts and the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The 6-5, 245-pound winger was originally the Colorado Avalanche's second round choice, 45th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.Dwight Helminen
, 20, was acquired on March 3 from the Edmonton Oilers, along with 2004 second round draft selection and goaltender Stephen Valiquette, in exchange for Petr Nedved and Jussi Markkanen. He has skated in 34 games this season for University of Michigan Wolverines of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), registering 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points, along with four penalty minutes. He currently ranks second on the Wolverines with 14 goals and ranks fifth on the team with 25 points. He was also named CCHA Offensive Player of the Week with a three-point series against Ohio State on November 14 and 15.
The 6-0, 200-pounder has appeared in 112 career contests with the University of Michigan Wolverines, collecting 41 goals and 35 assists for 76 points, along with 48 penalty minutes. During the 2002-03 regular season, he registered 17 goals and 16 assists for 33 points. He finished the season tied for third on the team with 33 points and posted career-bests in all scoring categories. In 2003 post-season play, Helminen 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. Internationally, Helminen has represented the United States at the 2002 and 2003 IIHF World Junior Championships. The native of Hancock, Michigan was originally Edmonton's eighth round selection, 244th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Jarkko Immonen
, 21, was acquired on March 3 from the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with defenseman Maxim Kondratiev, a first round draft selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and a second round selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for defenseman Brian Leetch and a conditional draft choice. He 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. In 2002-03 he ranked third on the team with 33 points, tallying 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points in 56 matches, along with 34 penalty minutes. The 6-1, 200-pound center was originally Toronto's eighth round choice, 254th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.Maxim Kondratiev
, 21, was acquired on March 3 from the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with center Jarkko Immonen, a first round draft selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and a second round selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for defenseman Brian Leetch and a conditional draft choice. He has skated 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. He has also appeared in seven games with Toronto earlier this season, registering two penalty minutes. Additionally, he skated in 18 matches with the St. John's Maple Leafs of the American Hockey League (AHL), registering three goals and five assists for eight points, along with 10 penalty minutes. The 6-1, 195-pounder has spent over four seasons with Toglatti since 1999.
In international competition, he was a member of Team Russia at the 2002 and 2003 World Junior Championships, helping them capture the gold medal both years and was selected as Russia's Player of the Game in the 2002 gold medal match. The native of Togliatti, Russia was originally Toronto's sixth round choice, 168th overall, in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.Rick Kozak
, 18, was acquired on March 8 from the Philadelphia Flyers, along with a second round draft choice in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, in exchange for Vladimir Malakhov. He 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. He currently ranks second on the Blazers with 153 penalty minutes and is sixth with 13 goals.
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Kozak has appeared in 93 career matches with Kamloops, Brandon and the Prince George Cougars (WHL), registering 22 goals and 13 assists for 35 points, along with 251 penalty minutes. He also skated in 16 post-season matches with Brandon (WHL) last season, registering six goals and five assists for 11 points, along with 51 penalty minutes. The 6-2, 210-pound winger was originally Philadelphia's third round choice, 95th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.David Liffiton
, 19, was acquired on March 9 from the Colorado Avalanche, along with Chris McAllister and a second round draft choice in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, in exchange for Matthew Barnaby and a third round draft choice in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He has skated in 43 matches with the 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 Whalers with 78 penalty minutes.
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Liffiton has appeared in 169 career matches with Plymouth (OHL), registering 10 goals and 29 assists for 39 points, along with 282 penalty minutes. He also skated in 24 playoff contests, registering one goal and three assists for four points, along with 29 penalty minutes. The 6-2, 201-pound defenseman was originally Colorado's second round choice, 63rd overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.Greg Moore
, 19, was acquired on March 6 from the Calgary Flames, along with Blair Betts and Jamie McLennan in exchange for left wing Chris Simon and a seventh round draft choice in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He has appeared in 30 matches with the University of Maine Black Bears of Hockey East (H.E.), 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. In 64 career matches with Maine, the 6-1, 206-pounder has tallied 23 goals and 15 assists for 38 points, along with 52 penalty minutes. The Lisbon, Maine native was originally Calgary's fifth round choice, 143rd overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.Karel Rachunek
, 24, was acquired on March 9 from the Ottawa Senators, along with Alexandre Giroux, in exchange for Greg de Vries. He has skated in 60 matches with the Senators this season, registering one goal and 16 assists for 17 points, along with 29 penalty minutes. He was tied for third among Ottawa defenseman with 17 points and was tied for sixth on the team with a plus-17 rating. He also ranks fourth on the team in average time on ice (19:43) and appeared in his 200th NHL match on November 6 vs. Carolina.
A native of Gottwaldov, Czech Republic, Rachunek has appeared in 246 career matches with Ottawa, registering 11 goals and 86 assists for 97 points, along with 145 penalty minutes. He has also skated in 20 playoff contests, registering one goal and three assists for four points, along with 14 penalty minutes. During the 2001-02 season, Rachunek was selected to skate in the NHL YoungStars Game during the NHL All-Star Weekend on January 17, 2002. In his rookie campaign of 2000-01, he finished second among all NHL rookies with a plus-17 rating and was third with 30 assists. The 6-2, 212-pound defenseman was originally Ottawa's ninth round choice, 229th overall, in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.R.J. Umberger
, 21, was acquired on March 9 from the Vancouver Canucks, along with Martin Grenier, in exchange for Martin Rucinsky. He was Vancouver's first round selection, 16th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft after playing three seasons from 2000-2003 with the Ohio State Buckeyes of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).
In 112 career matches with the Buckeyes, Umberger registered 58 goals and 71 assists for 129 points, along with 65 penalty minutes. During his time at Ohio State, Umberger garnered sevela honors, including being selected the CCHA's Rookie of the Year in 2001 and being selected to the 2001 CCHA All-Rookie Team. He was also named to the 2003 CCHA First All-Star Team and the 2003 NCAA Second All-American Team.