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The third installment of the Rangers most disappointing draft picks, free agent signings, and trades done by the numbers.
Welcome to the third installment of Disappointing Rangers by the numbers, numbers 21 through 30. The last installment certainly created a good amount of debate and controversy, especially over the inclusion of Nik Zherdev. But debate, controversy, and discussion is what I wanted this to be all about so I hope we have some more of that and I am pretty sure that my selection for number 27 will have plenty of people talking.
This will almost certainly be the second-to-last installment of the series because not many Rangers have worn numbers 31-99, but I assure you that the next installment will be worth a read. I'm looking forward to hearing your feedback, opinions, and questions about my sanity or lack thereof. Without further ado, I present to you the most disappointing Rangers numbers 21 through 30.
#21 - Jamie Lundmark (Center, 2002-2005)
In the 1999 NHL Entry Draft the Rangers selected Jamie Lundmark with the 9th overall pick (the team also drafted Pavel Brendl with the 4th overall pick that year). Lundmark's time with the Rangers was absolutely underwhelming considering he was a top ten pick, he scored 11 goals and 19 assists in 114 games with the Rangers and didn't do a lot better in his games with the Hartford Wolfpack. Lundmark's name sometimes gets lost in the seemingly dozens of first round disappointments that the Rangers have drafted but he was certainly a disappointment as a New York Ranger. The Rangers traded Lundmark away for Jeff Taffe of the Coyotes in October of 2005 and after bouncing around the NHL and a few European leagues Lundmark is currently playing in the KHL for Dinamo Riga.
Dishonorable Mention: Scott Fraser
#22 - Anson Carter (Right Wing, 2003-2004)
The best thing that Anson Carter did for the New York Rangers was being traded to the Washington Capitals for Jaromir Jagr on January 23rd, 2004. The Rangers acquired Anson Carter, who just came off back-to-back 25+ goal seasons, from the Oilers along with Ales Pisa for Cory Cross and Radek Dvorak on March 11th, 2003. Anson Carter scored 11 goals and 11 assists in 54 games as a New York Ranger and we all know what Jagr did when he became a New York Ranger (and the Capitals paid half of his contract as part of the deal). Carter really didn't cost the Rangers a lot but his numbers as a Ranger weren't anything like what he was putting up in Edmonton. Carter makes my list simply because he didn't produce as a New York Ranger despite many of us hoping that he might. The Carter for Jagr trade remains one of the best deals the team has made in recent memory and can be pointed at as one of the catalysts that finally turned the Rangers around and made them into a playoff team again.
#23 - Chris Drury (Center, 2007-2011) and Lucien Deblois (Right Wing, 1977-1979, 1986-1989)
It pains me to put a captain of the team on this list but we all know that Chris Drury was a disappointment as a New York Ranger. After helping to lead the Sabres to the playoffs with his best regular season performance (37 goals) Drury was signed by the Rangers to a five-year contract worth $35.25 million. Drury was called a winner that would bring the team some of the leadership it seemed to be starving for. Drury had a decent first season with the Rangers in the 2007-2008 season, 58 points in 82 games, and a good playoff campaign but he didn't approach the 69 points he had in Buffalo the year before. After just one season with the Rangers Drury was named as the successor to Jaromir Jagr as the team's captain, a distinction he held for three seasons. With the captain's "C" stitched to his chest expectations only increased for Drury, especially after the team dealt away the floundering Scott Gomez to the Canadiens after the 2008-2009 season but Drury's numbers never came close to what they were in Buffalo. Drury only played 27 games and registered just five points in his last season with the club due to a degenerative knee injury and post-concussion-syndrome but that didn't stop the growing rumors about the team's captain being bought out. After scoring just one assist in five playoff games with the Rangers in the 2011 playoffs Drury was bought out on June 29, 2011 and became an unrestricted free agent. Just two months after being bought-out by the Rangers Drury announced his retirement from professional hockey.
Drury was always an exceptional penalty killer and among the best defensive forwards in the league but his play never felt like it was worth the $7.05 million his contract took up of the Ranger's cap space. Ranger fans are still trying to figure out what Drury's true legacy is but when you look at his offensive production, or lack thereof, and the fact that he was bought-out despite being captain of the team there is no doubt that Chris Drury belongs on this list.
The Rangers drafted Lucien Deblois 8th overall in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft. Deblois scored 22 goals and 8 assists in his first season with the Rangers and then saw his scoring drop to 11 goals and 17 assists one year later. After playing just six games in his third season with the Rangers the team dealt him along with Pat Hickey, Mike McEwen, Dean Turner, and future considerations (Bobby Crawford) to the Colorado Rockies for Barry Beck on Nov. 2, 1979. When Deblois put on a Rockies jersey, or almost any jersey that wasn't a Rangers jersey, he seemed to score a lot more than he did during his two stretches with the Rangers. The Rangers signed Deblois as a free agent on September 8th, 1986 to play three more disappointing years with the Rangers. His best year as a Ranger was his last, where he scored 33 points in 73 games in the 1988-1989 season. Perhaps most painful of all is that Mike Bossy was selected by the Islanders seven picks later and Rangers GM John Ferguson Sr. said that he went with Deblois over Bossy because "Bossy didn't check enough for the NHL."
#24 - Sandis Ozolinsh (Defenseman, 2006-2007)
Sandis Ozolinsh was traded to the Rangers from Anaheim in exchange for San Jose's 2006 third round pick (John DeGray) on March 9, 2006 (the Rangers had traded Ville Nieminen to the Sharks for their third round pick the day before the Ozolinsh trade). Ozolinsh's offensive numbers, 3 goals and 11 assists, were impressive in the 19 games he played for the Rangers at the conclusion of the 2005-2006 season. But Ozolinsh was a major disappointment in the playoffs for the Rangers and was benched for the Rangers 4th game against the Devils because he was a liability on defense. Ozolinsh also had troubles off the ice as a Ranger. As a member of the Ducks he had entered the league's substance abuse program earlier in the year and was arrested in early May of 2006 for driving while intoxicated. The Rangers made the deal for Ozolinsh because they needed a puck-moving defenseman on the powerplay and needed to find some offense on their blueline (the Rangers blueline production was anemic that season). When all was said and done it looked like Ozolinsh might have disturbed the team's chemistry and for all of the offense that he brought from the blueline, his defensive play left a lot to be desired. The following year the Rangers put the Latvian veteran on waivers after 21 games where he scored only 3 points (all assists) and he was demoted to the Hartford Wolfpack and shortly thereafter was put on the injured reserve list for a knee injury.
#25 - Nick Beverley (Defenseman, 1974-1976)
Financial pressures forced the Rangers to trade one of their all-time greats for defenseman Nick Beverley. The Rangers traded away Vic Hadfield to the Penguins for Beverley after the 1973-1974 season. As a Penguin Hadfield continued to do what he did on the Rangers GAG line for so many years, he scored. Hadfield scored 61 goals in 154 games with the Penguins but suffered what would be a career-ending knee injury in the 1976-1977 season. Beverley was only in New York for two seasons and nine games into a third year before he was traded to Minnesota with Bill Fairbairn in exchange for Bill Goldsworthy on November 11th, 1976. Beverley had a solid first year on Broadway but his numbers dropped dramatically in his second season. Beverley had much better years, in terms of offensive production, before and after his time with the Rangers. The real disappointment regarding Nick Beverley is that Vic Hadfield wasn't able to finish his career as a Ranger and was exchanged for a player who had a forgettable two seasons and change in New York.
#26 - No one.
No Ranger who has worn #26 really strikes me as a major disappointment.
#27 - Alexei Kovalev (the second time around) (1992-1999, 2002-2004)
Oh I can't wait for the grief I am going to get for this one. No one can underestimate how important Kovalev was to the Rangers winning the Cup in 1994, he played like a man-possessed in the playoffs and was third on the team in playoff points. Although he had issues staying healthy in his first stretch with the Rangers, Kovalev still managed to score in the neighborhood of 25 goals when he was healthy and he was absolutely money in the playoffs when the Rangers went there in 1995 and 1996. Eventually the Rangers dealt Kovalev, along with Harry York, to the Penguins for Petr Nedved, Chris Tamer, and Sean Pronger. In three and a half seasons in Pittsburgh Kovalev's production exploded, including a 95 point year in 2000-2001. The Rangers re-acquired Kovalev (along with Dan LaCouture, Mike Wilson, and Janne Laukkanen) from Pittsburgh on February 10, 2003 in exchange for Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner, Rico Fata, Mikael Samuelsson, and future considerations. Kovalev, a fan favorite, was a Ranger again and he scored 10 goals in the 24 games he was a Ranger to close out the 2003-2004 season. The Rangers were desperate for Kovalev to bring the scoring touch he found in Pittsburgh to New York and help bring the team to the playoffs but in his first full year back with the Rangers Kovalev scored only 13 goals in 66 games and was eventually traded to the Montreal Canadiens as part of the Rangers fire sale in the 2003-2004 season for Jozef Balej and the Habs 2004 2nd round pick (Bruce Graham) on March 2, 2004.
As painful as it may be for Ranger fans to hear Kovalev had his best year as a Ranger as a rookie (keeping in mind his beastly playoff performance), he never eclipsed 60 points as a Ranger, and he played his best hockey with the Penguins and the Habs. With all of that being said, I really only consider Kovalev's second stint as a Ranger a "disappointment" because he directly contributed to the team's success from 1993 to 1996. Adding to his second stint being a disappointment was the return in the Kovalev trade, two players who had absolutely no positive impact as Rangers. Even Alex was disappointed with how his return to New York went:
''I thought I was going to do better than I did before,'' the 31-year-old Kovalev said. ''I was happy to come back. I wish I could have done better.
''New York is about big players, star players, big names. This was a great opportunity for me to play with great players. Maybe I fit better with a younger team.''
Turns out Alex did fit in better with a younger team (the Habs) and after a slow start in his first 12 games in the regular season to close out the 2003-2004 season he scored 264 points in 314 games and 21 points in 22 playoff games playing for Montreal.
#28 - Hugh Jessiman (Right Wing, in the system 2005-2008)
Okay so I cheated a little bit here, Jessiman never wore the number 28 as a Ranger (he never played a single game for the big club) but it is the number he wore as a member of the Florida Panthers in his professional debut during the 2010-2011 season. All of that being cleared up, I had to find a way to get Hugh Jessiman on the list of most disappointing Rangers so I did what I had to do. Jessiman, a New York City native, was drafted 12th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Jessiman chose to play two more years for Dartmouth College and suffered a serious ankle injury that many believe spoiled his development and forever changed him and his game in his junior year. When Jessiman finally played for the Panthers he was the last first rounder of his 2003 draft class to do so. We all know the names that were drafted after Jessiman in 2003 and I won't bother to list them but we should all keep in mind the major injury that may have spoiled Jessiman before he ever joined the Rangers before we judge him too harshly. Still, Jessiman's name will forever be mentioned as one of the biggest draft busts by any team in recent memory and for that reason alone he makes my list.
Dishonorable Mention: Bryan McCabe
#29 - Al Montoya (Goalie, in the system 2005-2008)
Al Montoya was the Rangers 6th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, going well ahead of players like Drew Stafford, Mike Green, and Travis Zajac and a little bit after two chumps named Ovechkin and Malkin. I hesitate to put Montoya on this list because if not for Henrik Lundqvist's emergence as the Swedish god of goaltending and handsomeness Montoya may very well have gotten his shot as the Rangers next goaltender and who knows how that would have gone. Montoya posted a 66-34-4 record with the Wolfpack over two and a half seasons and his numbers were pretty solid. The disappointment of Montoya, in my opinion, was that the Rangers weren't able to get more out of him in the deal that sent him to the Coyotes and it always stings when a 6th overall pick is "wasted." On February 26, 2008 the Rangers dealt Montoya and Marcel Hossa to the ‘Yotes for Fredrik Sjostrom, David LeNeveu, and Josh Gratton.
Dishonorable Mention: Lauri Korpikoski (how he was handled)
#30 - Mike Dunham (Goalie, 2002-2004)
After Mike Richter suffered the injury that would end his career in the 2002-2003 season the Rangers made a deal on December 12th of 2002 to bring Mike Dunham to New York in exchange for Marek Zidlicky, Tomas Kloucek, and Rem Murray. The club had been leaning on the 19-year-old Dan Blackburn with Richter injured and needed to land a goalie that would help get the team into the playoff picture. Blackburn played 18 straight games before Mike Dunham came in for relief and took over the starting job, playing 43 straight games and putting up solid numbers but it wasn't enough to get the Rangers into the postseason. The next season Dunham's numbers nosedived and in 53 appearances he had 16 wins, 3.03 GAA, and a .896 SV%. What makes Dunham a disappointment is that he cost the team their best prospect at the time (Kloucek) and Marek Zidlicky who scored 26 goals in his first two seasons with the Nashville Predators. Realistically, it was a trade that the team had to make to take the pressure of a teenager that was assuming the throne left by Mike Richter earlier than he was ready for but it proved to be a bad trade and Dunham's play, especially in his second year as a Ranger, brought the team no closer to the playoffs.
Have at it in the comments guys and girls. Let's Go Rangers and let's go hockey.