Rocket boost for Rangers
Making big playoff push, N.Y. lands P. Bure from FloridaPosted: Monday March 18, 2002 8:05 PM
Updated: Tuesday March 19, 2002 8:09 PM
New York, which also acquired a second-round pick, sends disappointing defenseman Igor Ulanov and young defenseman Filip Novak to Florida along with the Rangers' first- and second-round picks in this June's draft, and a fourth-round pick next year.
"He's a constant threat," Rangers general manager Glen Sather said of Bure. "He's someone who can score any time he gets the puck on his stick. He's an artist. He's a superstar."
The deal was completed the night before the NHL's trading deadline of 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
Sather, who believes Bure is one of the "top four or five players in the league," has been involved in talks for the speedy right wing for about a month. Florida pulled the deal off the table Sunday, but called back Monday to ask if it was still available.
"It's been a real roller coaster ride," Sather said. "Whether they were going to do it or not. It was tough trade for them to do."
Florida coach Mike Keenan was the point man on the deal, working closely with GM Chuck Fletcher.
"As we look at the future and how Pavel fits in, we felt we needed to make a change," Keenan said. "It's a difficult trade. The key was that even with Pavel winning the Rocket Richard Trophy [league's leading goal scorer], the team still couldn't win enough games."
Bure, who will turn 31 later this month, has two years left on a contract that will pay him $10 million per season, as well as an option in the 2004-05 season for $11 million.
The "Russian Rocket" led the NHL in goals each of the last two seasons, but since being traded to Florida from Vancouver in 1999, he has not won a playoff game with the Panthers.
"Pavel is a wonderful talent," Fletcher said. "He entertained all of us. But clearly Pavel by himself couldn't make us win."
The All-Star forward has 22 goals in 56 games this season. He had 59 last season and 58 in 1999-00, and established a modern league record last season by accounting for 29.5 percent of his team's production.
Yet Bure has been saddled with rumors he's a selfish player, a possible reason Florida gave him up so cheaply. But Sather is unconcerned.
"I've heard a lot of rumors about a lot of players in this league," he said. "I heard all kinds of stories about Eric [Lindros] this year. Once you find out what makes them tick, things change in a real hurry. I'm not worried about that at all."
Sather claimed Bure is thrilled with the trade.
"Pavel is anxious to be here," Sather said. "I talked to him today. He's very excited about it. He said he'd do anything to help the team win and play anywhere we wanted him to play."
Bure, expected to be at New York's skate Tuesday morning, will likely enjoy New York's large Russian community as well as the Rangers' proximity to a playoff spot.
New York, ninth in the Eastern Conference, plays Vancouver at home Tuesday night.
"This guy's a world-class player," Sather said. "He's going to make our team go."
Ulanov, signed as an unrestricted free agent last summer, managed only six assists in 39 games this season with the Rangers. He was a healthy scratch in 15 games this season and was sent to Hartford of the AHL on March 2.
He was recalled from the Wolf Pack, where he had one goal and one assist, on Wednesday but didn't play in New York's loss at home to Detroit on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Ulanov, in his 11th NHL season, has also played with Winnipeg, Washington, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Montreal and Edmonton.
Novak, 19, has 12 goals and 46 assists in 60 games this season with Regina of the Western Hockey League. He was a second-round pick of the Rangers in 2000.