GM Glen Sather had a busy day on the eve of the free
agent deadline, resigning two pending Restricted Free Agents and sending a
couple of well known names off for draft picks.
Veteran defenseman and long time Ranger, Brian Leetch
was sent to Edmonton in a move reminiscent to the Richter deal last season.
In exchange the Rangers will receive a conditional 2004 4th round draft
pick, along with netminder Jussi Markkanen.
Joining Leetch in the last minute maneuvers, was
captain Mark Messier, sent to San Jose for future considerations.
Whether the Rangers will add a draft pick in next year's draft, will be no
doubt determined towards the end of the coming season.
Returning for 2003-04 will be left wingers Dan
Lacouture and Ronald Petrovicky, both players signed one year contracts with
the Rangers. Lacouture had 1 goal and 4 assists in 24 games with the
Rangers, after being included in the trade that saw Alex Kovalev return to
New York. Petrovicky had 5 goals and 9 assists in 66 games after being
claimed from Calgary in last season's waiver draft.
In other news it appears apparent that the Rangers
will part ways with Eric Lindros some time in the next week or so. TSN
is reporting that the Rangers will place Lindros on waivers and will then
buy his contract out for 2.2 million when he clears as he is expected to do.
The move would bring to an end a disappointing run on
Broadway for Lindros who defied the career-ending concussion, but was
largely ineffective this past season. Lindros came to the Rangers in
August of 2001 under a hail of criticism and protest from the Rangers
faithful. Sather stood by his actions, but with Lindros' salary tied
to games played and not performance, the GM looks to be forced to admit that
this was a trade that didn't work out for the Rangers.
Finally, Pavel Bure appears to be reassessing his
future following an injury-plagued season and a myriad of Ranger personnel
moves/rumors on the first day of free agency. Bure is considering
returning to Russia and taking up a political position.