The draft board pages include every player who was left unprotected in the 1999 Expansion Draft. The overwhelming majority of players who do not carry over are either old, unproductive, injured, primarily used for fighting, marginal players, minor league veterans, or unsigned European prospects. The majority of pending UFAs (Group III, Group V, and Group VI) will not carry over. Exceptions to these rules are provided if the incumbent team left almost nothing of value available to choose from, in which case everyone gets at least a closer look.
As we are capped by league restrictions to selecting no more than six pending free agents, we must be judicious with our choices.
Speaking of hitting bottom, the Rangers missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year for the first time since 1977.
Goalies: Exempt (lost Mike Richter in 1998 expansion draft)
Defensemen: Jeff Beukeboom, Rick Brennan(Gr.VI – UFA), Ilya Gorohov(UE), Chris O’Sullivan(Gr.VI – UFA), Adam Smith(Gr.II – RFA), Chris Tamer(Gr.II – RFA), Brent Thompson(Gr.II – RFA)
Forwards: Derek Armstrong(Gr.II – RFA), Kevin Brown(Gr.VI – UFA), Christian Dube(Gr.II – RFA), Bob Errey, Brent Fedyk, Scott Fraser, Ken Gernander, Daniel Goneau(Gr.II – RFA), Chris Kenady, Radoslav Kropac(UE), Alexei Lazarenko(UE), Mike Maneluk(Gr.VI – UFA), Brad Smyth, Esa Tikkanen, Rudolf Vercik(UE)
The Rangers have just two players out of twenty-two who we’re considering: defenseman Chris Tamer and forward Christian Dube.
D Chris Tamer – 28-year-old defenseman, originally a 4th-round pick of Pittsburgh (1990)
The case for taking Tamer – He’s a big, physical defenseman who has some skill and no fear. He played four years of college at Michigan, and was the Wolverines’ most penalized player all four years. His freshman year saw the team finish with their most wins (24) since 1976-77, and they would have 30+ wins each of the next three seasons, including twice making the NCAA tournament for the first times since 1977.
In the NHL, he’s showed absolutely no fear at all, fighting the league’s heavyweights as the chance has arisen. Probert, Barnaby, Chase, Vukota, Peluso, you name it; if there’s anyone out there skilled at throwing punches, Tamer will take them on. And if he’s not fighting, he’ll definitely make opposing forwards regret ever getting too close to the net.
The case against taking Tamer – We have to recognize first that he’s not going to bring any offense to the table at all. He hasn’t produced any in the NHL, he didn’t produce any in college, he didn’t produce any in the NAHL before that. Power play time is simply out of the question for him.
A larger issue is that he doesn’t kill penalties either. In Pittsburgh, outside of Darius Kasparaitis the last couple years that Tamer was there, it was a revolving door of defensemen who would get PK time; Tamer was not among them. He was on the PK in 1995-96, then was substantially reduced after that. He was a +20 in 1995-96, then a -25 in 1996-97, far and away the worst mark among defensemen. He did have a big overall year in 1997-98 when Kevin Constantine took over as coach; Pittsburgh only dressed nine different defensemen all year, and Tamer played 79 games and played his best hockey by far. This past year in New York, he looked like he had previously.
Will he provide a nasty presence on our back end if we take him? Definitely. Should we expect anything more out of him than playing on the third pairing, and maybe being on the second PK unit? No. And as a pending Group II free agent, he would also count against our limit if we took him.
F Christian Dube – 22-year-old forward, originally a 2nd-round pick of NY Rangers (1995)
The case for taking Dube – A huge scorer in juniors, Dube put up 134 goals and 355 points in just 224 games, plus 8 goals and 13 points in 13 games across two WJCs. What else…QMJHL First-Team All-Star, QMJHL MVP, CHL Player of the Year, Memorial Cup All-Star Team, Memorial Cup MVP. To get the latter two awards, he had six goals and thirteen points in just four Memorial Cup tournament games en route to a championship in 1996-97.
That was a big season for Dube. He started off with the Rangers, picking up just two assists in 27 games before being loaned out for the WJC. In that tournament, he was used in every situation and dominated, then went back to the QMJHL and dominated as well. The Rangers insisted that he add serious bulk to his 5’11” frame, so he added 15 pounds and had a miserable season in which he looked slower than ever before. He said it was his worst season in hockey, yet he still had 56 points in 79 games in his first full pro season. This past year, he had 21 goals and 51 points in 58 AHL games, then no points in a six-game callup in which he played a total of 16 minutes of ice time. Fed up with this, and apparently holding a contract offer from a team in Switzerland, Dube has threatened to go overseas if he isn’t moved out of the Rangers organization.
He can score. He’s dominated in all facets of the game against the best in the world of his peer group. He’s put up nice numbers despite carrying around extra weight at the insistence of those above him, and he hasn’t been given a fair shake with the Rangers. We can afford to give him one; we can put him with an actual scorer or two instead of jamming him onto a fourth line and then wondering why he’s not scoring. Sure, his skating needs a bit of work, but he’s 22 and we’re in no hurry to get something out of him. Just because the Rangers are being run by a bunch of dinosaurs doesn’t mean we need to follow their lead.
The case against taking Dube – We could probably count on one hand the number of young players who have produced nothing at the NHL level, not been a point per game in the AHL, threatened to go overseas or elsewhere, and yet amounted to anything. So he doesn’t feel he’s gotten a fair shake with the Rangers; there are a thousand other players out there who have dominated junior hockey, then discover that they’re not NHL-caliber and felt like they’ve gotten a raw deal. Most of them have better sense than to publicly ask out after playing less than 10 NHL games the previous two seasons, and less than 35 total games in his career.
What if we take Dube and pick up a couple of additional scorers, and he has no chemistry with them? Do we drop established players down a line so we can build our forwards around him, or do we drop him down and suddenly have a nightmare on our hands when he decides that we haven’t given him a real chance either?
The other big consideration is that he’s a pending Group II free agent, yet we’re supposed to take a flight risk to count against the free agent limit? Let’s not allow some WJC performances three seasons ago to cloud our better judgments.