Lesser Known Rangers – Olympic Edition
Ah, Yes! The Winter Olympics are here and there’s nothing like watching the best and the brightest vie for Olympic gold! I cannot wait to see Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews battle it out for North American supremacy, or Henrik Lundqvist carry Sweden! Lets the games…..oh wait.
That’s right, the NHL decided not to send their athletes to the Olympic games this year. That’s a bummer, but I’m sure the games will be just as exciting and the rag tag group of players from the AHL, KHL and other international leagues look to chase Olympic gold! What’s interesting within these groups of players is the amount of former Rangers that played on Broadway, but you probably never knew or forgot! Everyone remembers Matt Gilroy (USA) and Wojtek Wolski (CAN) but do you remember some of the names listed below? Lets find out, in this special edition of Lesser Known Rangers – Olympic Edition!
Ivan Baranka, Defenseman, Team Slovakia
Time with Rangers: 1 game with NYR, 174 games with HFD
Ivan Baranka currently plays for HC Vítkovice Ridera in the Czech Extraliga and is currently representing Slovakia in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Before this, Baranka was drafted by the Rangers 50th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft (Note: Shea Weber was drafted 49th that year, Joe Pavelski was selected 205th overall).
Baranka seemed to play most of his time in Hartford. After 3 full seasons, Baranka finally played his first and only game as a Ranger on November 21st, 2007. His only contribution was assisting on Colton Orr’s first goal versus Tampa Bay. After that season, his Rangers career was essentially over and Baranka went overseas.
Tomas Kundratek, Defenseman, Team Czech Republic
Time with Rangers: 70 games for HFD/CT
Tomas Kundratek is currently playing in the KHL for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and is also representing Team Czech Republic in the 2018 Winter Olympic games. Before this, Kundratek spent time with the Washington Capitals and their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
Kundratek was drafted by the Rangers 90th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in hopes of being a depth guy in the near future for the big club. He played in 70 games as a rookie for the newly branded Connecticut Whale, during the 2010–11 season, tallying two goals and ten assists for 12 points, along with 42 penalty minutes. He also played in all six of the Whale’s playoff games versus the Portland Pirates in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, putting up two assists and two penalty minutes.
After suiting up for 7 games with the Whale the following season, he was traded to the Washington Capitals for Francois Bouchard on November 8th, 2011 and just like that, his Rangers career ended.
Chris Bourque, Forward, Team USA
Time with Rangers: 73 games for HFD in 2014-15 along with a few preseason games.
Currently, Chris Bourque, son of Ray, older brother of former Wolf Pack Ryan, is an alternate captain and AHL All Star Forward for the Hershey Bears. A career AHL’er, Bourque has had some cups of coffee in the NHL with New York, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Bourque attempted to stick onto the Rangers roster in 2014 by signing a one year, two way contract. After some preseason action, Bourque was assigned to Hartford where he led the team in scoring with 66 points in 73 games and was selected to the AHL first All-Star team.
The following season, he returned to Hershey where he currently plays to this day. Bourque is representing the United States in this year’s Winter Olympics.
Raphael Diaz, Defenseman, Team Switzerland
Time with Rangers: 11 Games in 2013-14, 4 playoff games during Cup run
I feel like one of the few Ranger fans out there that actually liked Raphael Diaz. There’s something about offensive type defenseman that pique my interest and when Diaz was acquired from Vancouver on March 5th, 2014, I was intrigued. I’m not saying he was the best defenseman out there on the ice, lighting it up, but the guy clearly could shoot the puck. In his first 11 games as a Ranger, he scored only one goal and one assist all while contributing in some form to the Cup run in 2014.
Diaz left New York to Calgary, where he made the team out of camp. The following season, the Rangers re signed Diaz to a one year, two way contract in the summer of 2015 in hopes of being a depth defenseman, but was buried in Hartford and only appeared in one playoff game before going overseas to Switzerland and signing a 5 year contract with EV Zug.
Diaz is currently representing Team Switzerland in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Bobby Sanguinetti, Defenseman, Team USA
Time with Rangers: 5 games with New York Rangers, 3 seasons with Hartford Wolf Pack
The local Trenton product is currently playing in Switzerland for HC Lugano in the National League (Swiss Hockey League). Team USA called upon Sanguinetti to represent Team USA in this year’s Winter Olympics. Sanguinetti has carved out a decent career for himself after leaving North America, first with the KHL and now in Switzerland.
Before all of this, Sanguinetti was regarded as a highly touted prospect for the Rangers. Selected in the first round with the 21st pick, the Rangers selected Sanguinetti in hopes that he would turn out to be a top prospect for the team down the line. After becoming an All-Star in the AHL for Hartford, Sanguinetti was called up to the big club for five games during the 2009-10 season. He appeared in five games, plus/minus rating was even and did not register a point.
That seemed to be it for Sangs, as he was dealt by the Rangers to the Carolina Hurricanes the following offseason. After a few stints in Carolina and bouncing around a few systems in the minors, Sanguinetti headed overseas to where he is today.
Personally, I thought Sanguinetti would pan out as a Ranger, but that just shows how in tuned I am with how scouting players is supposed to work. Yikes.
Viktor Stalberg, Forward, Team Sweden
Time with Rangers: 75 games for New York in 2015-16
I seem to have this fascination with depth players, as Stalberg was one of my favorites during the seemingly forgetful 2015-16 season (Did you know Jayson Megna was a first line winger this season for a few games?). The veteran winger signed on with New York on a one season deal and right away after making the opening night roster, enjoyed quick success. Although he only scored 9 goals that season, Stalberg was in the middle of a lot of nice plays that helped throughout the season.
Then, just like that, he was gone. Stalberg decided to leave New York after the Rangers decided to move on, and signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. He was then dealt to the Ottawa Senators and proved to be a thorn in the side of the Rangers, as he was part of the Ottawa team that defeated the Rangers in last year’s second round playoff series.
Following the season, Stalberg decided to leave the NHL and sign on with the Swiss club EV Zug of the National League for two seasons. He is now representing Sweden in this year’s Winter Olympics.