Big E in Big Apple is Big Problem, Leetch's Future Questionable

Now since the Rangers missed out on the Jagr deal, there is one big name left out there who wants to be traded. We all know who that is, cry baby, wimp, spoiled Eric Lindros. If the Rangers add number 88 on their roster, it would only create problems. And, what will happen to Brian Leetch?First of all, is Lindros a good team player? Glen Sather wants good team players, especially in the locker room. Yes, Lindros was a Captain, and he could lead well, but the fact that he sat out and is displeased with many things does not make him a good presence in the locker room, especially with the Rangers. Obviously, I could be wrong. Lindros wants to play and also end up in Toronto, but he just wants to play the game. He knows money will not be an issue with the Rangers, and he also knows that the player he idolized when he was a kid is on the Rangers, Mark Messier. This is not the only problem of Lindros on the Rangers, and it might not even be a problem.

The real problems if Lindros goes to the Rangers is for who, who will he play with, and how will the lines look like? And, in addition to the problem is Bobby Clarke. I understand Bobby Clarke prefers to see Eric sit another year, but what I don’t understand is why he wants that. Clarke here is acting and judging as a human being, not as a GM. If he lets Lindros sit another year, what does he get in return? Nothing, zero, nada, in return, but he does get his immature “satisfaction” that he is making Lindros pay. If Clarke is a real GM, he should trade him. If I were Clarke, I would even trade him for a 1st round pick. Who cares, at least I get something in return. But, Clarke makes it harder for the Rangers as well. Clarke would want two of these players: Johnsson, Hlavac, Dvorak, Kloucek, Brendl, and Lundmark. Unlike Patrick who requested all those players besides Hlavac, for Jagr, Clarke wants two. Who would Sather pick? Kim Johnsson is the number one choice to trade. Johnsson is a great skater, great puck handler, and has a bright future. Will he be a loss for the Rangers? No, not at all. Rangers have good young prospects for the defense. Next, the choosing of a forward. Sather said that Kloucek and Dvorak are the keepers. If Sather did not trade Lundmark and Brendl for Jagr, it still does not mean he won’t trade one of them. I am not so sure which one would be traded, because they are both good and useful. Brendl is a RW who has a big time sniper shot, but is not a great skater and not great on the defense. Although, Rangers do need a sniper player, who could score 40+ goals in the future. Lundmark is said to be a great playmaker, and very smart. He could be the Rangers future center, so that is a good reason to hold on to him. This leaves Hlavac to talk about. Jan Hlavac is a 30+ goal scorer, even if he ended the season with 28, although being injured the last 3,4 games. Hlavac is an awesome skater, and impressive with the way he shoots. He could be a 40+ goal scorer someday, very soon probably. The Czech line looks great with Hlavac, because he ends up being the goal scorer most of the times on even strength.

So, all those players that Clarke wants are needed on the Rangers. The other problem is how does Lindros fit on the line-ups? Well, since the Rangers would have Messier, Lindros, Nedved, York, and Johansson/Lundmark as their centers, things are just made more difficult. However, let’s try to work this puzzle. Let’s say Johnsson and Hlavac are traded for Lindros. Lindros will have to play as a wing. Messier used to be a LW, and that is how he made Malhotra better, by telling him to play LW. But, Messier is too old to play LW. This means that Lindros will have to play as LW, and have him play with Messier.
So, this is what I think the line-ups could be:

Line 1: Lindros—Messier—Fleury

Line 2: Malhotra—Nedved—Dvorak

Line 3: York—Lundmark—Brendl

Line 4: Ekman—Johansson—McCarthy/Samuelsson

This is how I came up with it. But, it can’t be 100% correct. What if Lundmark or Brendl or both don’t even make the team? Well, you move Samuelsson up to 3rd line, York back to center, and there is a missing LW. That creates a problem, but I am sure a rookie would be brought up. However, if Lindros does come to NYC, that is how I want the lines to be. I love the first line because it is a killer with Messier and pesky Fleury. The second line still is great since Dvorak and Malhotra get along well on the ice as they have in the last 10 games. Plus, the Nedved line needs a tougher and stronger player, and Malhotra fits just well. The 3rd line is what I call, “The Brain Line”. York and Lundmark see the ice great and make the smart passes, while Brendl is the big time shooter (with size), who knows when to shoot or not. The 4th line seems good. Samuelsson being the question mark of that line because he is a prospect and McCarthy was the best Ranger to play with heart last season. Ekman is a small kid, but a steal from Tampa Bay for just Tim Taylor, and he might chip in some goals. Johansson is a good fore-checker and he fits great as a 4th line center.

It would be hard to see Lindros centering the 1st line, Messier the 2nd, and Nedved the 3rd. It simply cannot happen because Nedved is a Center, and does not deserve to play 3rd line. If anyone has another way to create the line-ups with Lindros on the team, please do comment.

POP-UP NEWS: “puckdogg writes “The Washington Post Reports That the Caps have resigned Ulf Dahlen but They lost out on signing 31 year old LW Zdeno Ciger, who has been signed by the Rangers. Zdeno Ciger has played for the Devils Oilers most recently in his native Slovakia.

Looks like Sather is trying to address the lack of quality LW’s problem. No terms were provided.”

Since that is news, it seems as if the Rangers now would have another LW, and who knows if Ciger might take Hlavac’s spot if he is traded. What does that acquisition mean though? A possible trade soon to happen?

Now, it’s time to talk about Leetch. I looked for hockey rumors today, and I passed by the New York Post. Larry Brooks is known to make up the most incorrect things on players, but this one did get me thinking. Brian Leetch is the most skillful skater defenseman in the NHL, and in the top 3 of best defensemen. He is 34 years old, and also one of the healthiest hockey players in the NHL. He has 2 more years remaining on his contract, and this is what comes to my mind, UFA. Leetch will be 36 years old when he is a UFA. Will he re-sign with the Rangers? Will Glen Sather offer him a new contract? Or, the worse question, “Will Sather trade Leetch?” This is what I got from Larry Brooks’ article, and the rest was just from stupidity and beyond.

In my opinion, I think Leetch should stay as a Ranger always, retire as one, and have his jersey retired at MSG. Every time I see Leetch playing, I always think he is younger because he never looks “old”. He never slows down, and he never does anything that makes you want to say, “he is getting old.” By age 36, Leetch would play as if he is 3 years younger, and I see him retiring at age 40. I don’t think Sather would want to trade Leetch unless he gets a big time offer from a team. The Rangers have a good future for defensemen, and trading Leetch for more defensemen would just be plain useless. What about when he is a UFA? Will Leetch re-sign with the Rangers? He will be one of the biggest names that summer. I think the Rangers will be back in the playoffs for sure in 2 years, and probably a good team. Leetch would want to stay as a Ranger. Actually, he was asked about his no-trade clause, and he said that he wishes that Sather would not ask to waive it. Plus, it is a given he’d be the captain of the team next season, so I think he wants to stay. Rangers fans, what do you think? Also, Rangers do not need to get younger anymore. They are a young team, and yes, the same average age as the New Jersey Devils (NYR=27.7, NJ=27.9). Trading Leetch for youth is useless. I say Leetch is staying and retiring as a Ranger. I like to see players start with a team and retire with that team. It was unfortunate to see Bourque leave the Bruins, even if he is retiring his jersey there. But like Yzerman, who will finish as a Red Wing, I want to see Leetch finish as a New York Ranger.

Micki Peroni