Richter To Be DEALT If Sather Gets The Right Offer

Larry Brooks from the NY Post reports:March 5, 2002 — EXCLUSIVE

If the price is right, Glen Sather is willing to deal Mike Richter regardless of the Rangers’ position in the standings at the March 19 trade deadline, an NHL general manager has told The Post.

This GM, attending the league meetings that began yesterday in Naples, Fla., said that it has been made clear that the Rangers require that a goaltender who’d be able to split duties with Dan Blackburn for the remainder of the season be included in any package for Richter, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

“They aren’t going to give him away, but Richter is out there, whether the Rangers are in a playoff spot or not,” the GM said. “But they have to get a goalie back.”

In addition, a well-placed source has told The Post that Sather is soliciting offers for Theo Fleury, who will become an unrestricted free agent next year if the Rangers don’t pick up his $7 million option for 2002-2003 by June 15. It is unclear whether the Rangers would ask Fleury to waive his no-trade clause if they find a taker or whether they would attempt to move him with the same kind of waivers maneuvering they used last year to deal Stephane Quintal and his no-trade contract.

When you have to rebuild a team, you have to take the actions to rebuild it, unlike Neil Smith who said he would rebuild it and then signed players like Bob Errey to the Hartford Wolfpack. Mike Richter lost the game against the Flames last night. It was too much of an important game to lose. Defense played fairly well, the offense has a new look with Grosek back in the NHL (playing like in his good Sabres days), but Richter just blew it.

Is that the reason why he ought to be traded though? No, not at all. But, the Rangers have to rebuild, which means the valuable veterans should be dealt. Richter is the most valuable goalie available for the trade deadline, which means that the Rangers will receive more youth, cut down the payroll, and talent. St. Louis is still said to be the team favored in trading for Richter, however, GM Larry Pleau mentioned that he is not interested in acquiring any goaltenders. How can any hockey fan possibly believe in that? The Blues are a veteran squad, a playoff team, overpaying players, trading youth, to win the Stanley Cup. They depend on Brent Johnson and Fred Brathwaite to win the Cup for them? Again, if a team wants to win the Cup, it can’t be cheap on goaltending. If the Blues acquire Richter, then their chances of winning the Cup are much higher for this season as well as next season if they sign him.

Now, this breaks down to deciding, should the Rangers get Johnson or Brathwaite? Personally, I would prefer Johnson, but this is how it would go. If Sather chooses Johnson, then he will receive less value in the extra forward(s) and/or defensemen. If Sather chooses Brathwaite, then he will receive more value in the extra forward(s) and/or defensemen. (prospects: Jackman, Papineau, Rycroft, Corso.)

Here are Brent Johnson’s (25 yrs) career numbers:

GAA: 2.16
SV%: .906
SO: 8
GP: 76
GA: 161

Here are Fred Brathwaite’s (29 yrs) career numbers:

GAA: 2.65
SV%: .904
SO: 13
GP: 200
GA: 489

Who would you choose? Do not forget that Sather previously traded Brathwaite to the Flames, does he want him on the Rangers? Then one realizes, why should the Rangers trade for a 25 year old goalie (Johnson) when they have Blackburn? Well, teams have the option of a goaltending split season. Johnson would play…50 games and Blackburn would play 32 games. Do not forget this as well. Blackburn is still eligible to be sent down to juniors next season. Will Blackburn have a good sophomore year? Who knows, but if he does not, then the Rangers still have a young highly touted goalie, who will get better and better each season. Blackburn does not have to become a starter at age 20, he could become a starter at age 24 which is 6 more years of development for him. By that time, Johnson would be 30/31 years old and would be tradable.

What other teams could Richter be headed to? The Kings maybe? The Leafs? But they don’t have much to offer. The best offer will tell.

The Fleury section:

Theo is playing better with more control on the ice. Besides all the ignorant bashing on the player, hockey fans as well as players forget that this little 5’6 185 lbs player has more guts to go after big players like Derian Hatcher, Scott Stevens, Chris Chelios, Peter Worrell, and just any player. Fleury has value. That is the bottom line. Trade talks say that Fleury could be traded to the San Jose Sharks for Teemu Selanne, or the Avalanche for Chris Drury (doubt it). But, the one trade talk mentioned Wayne Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes lack offense and some attitude on the ice. Gretzky and Fleury are good friends and have played together in the All-Star game. Is there a chance Fleury could be dealt to the Coyotes? Maybe, for who? My choise would be Shane Doan (straight up) or young Michal Handzus and a prospect/top pick.

Sather knows how to build a young team (i.e. 90’s Oilers) and with Assistant GM Maloney, they will fix this Rangers team. He said it would take 3 years, then 3 years it would take, and this is just the 2nd.

Micki Peroni

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