New York Rangers Czech Line Trade Tree was the gift that kept on giving

NHL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a handful of legendary lines in New York Rangers hockey history. For a brief time, one line that many fans still remember is the Czech Line, formed during the 1999-00 season.

Consisting of center Petr Nedved and wingers Radek Dvorak and Jan Hlavac, the unit gave fans something to cheer about at the height of the ‘Dark Ages’ of the late 1990s and early 2000s. While short lived, the line’s legacy continues today among fans who grew up watching during that era.

While they may not be the ‘A Line’ consisting of Frank Boucher with the Cook brothers at the dawn of the franchise’s existence, or the legendary GAG Line in the early 1970s with Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, and Vic Hadfield, they still had an impact, even after they all left.

Today, after many of you opened presents around the Christmas Tree, we’ll look at the Czech Line’s Trade Tree, and see what all three players did after their time in New York concluded.

Check out the Rick Nash Trade Tree

New York Rangers Czech Line Trade Tree

NHL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY NETWORK

Petr Nedved Branch

In some ways, no player feels more 1990s Rangers than Petr Nedved, who was involved in four separate trades over a 10-year span, starting in 1994.

For this exercise, though, we’ll begin with the second trade the sent him back to the Rangers after a stint in Pittsburgh. Nedved, along with Chris Tamer and Sean Pronger, was traded to New York for Alexei Kovalev and Harry York on Nov. 25, 1998.

Tamer played 52 games with the Rangers following the trade, and scored a goal and five assists. The Rangers lost Tamer to the Atlanta Thrashers in the expansion draft that summer, thus ending his branch.

Pronger’s impact was even less, as he had three assists in 14 games before being dealt that February to Los Angeles for Eric Lacroix. Lacroix would spend parts of three seasons with the Rangers, scoring eight goals and 20 points in 146 games, which isn’t a terrible return for the winger.

Lacroix was swapped for Colin Forbes from Ottawa in March 2001. He scored five points in 19 games as a Ranger before leaving that summer, thus ending that branch.

Nedved, meanwhile, became one of the Rangers’ best players during those down years. He had five 20-goal seasons, including a career-high 32 in 2000-01. He posted 68 in 1999-00, and followed it up with a career-best 78 the following year. 

While those numbers aren’t gaudy by today’s standards, keep in mind this was the height of the “Dead Puck” era and those Rangers teams were bad. How bad? They finished more than 10 points out of a playoff spot both years.

Nedved was part of the purge of 2004. He, along with Jussi Markkanen, was sent to Edmonton for Steve Valiquette, Dwight Helminen, a 2004 second-round pick that became Dane Byers and a 2005 third-round pick.

Valiquette had the biggest impact with the Rangers, spending parts of five seasons with the club. He appeared in 28 games from 2007 through 2009, posting 10 wins during that span. He was relegated to the AHL during the 2009-10 season before leaving the organization that summer and heading overseas for two seasons. He’s now an analyst for Rangers broadcasts on MSG Network.

Helminen never played a game for the Rangers and left the organization after the 2006-07 season.

Byers, a left wing, spent six years in the organization and managed to appear in six games, including five in 2009-10. He had one goal. He was dealt to Columbus in November 2010 for Chad Kolarik.

Kolarik spent two seasons in the organization and appeared in four games with the Rangers before being dealt to Pittsburgh in January 2013 for Benn Ferriero, who — oddly enough — also played just four games for the Rangers.

Ferriero, along with a sixth in 2014, was sent to Minnesota for the right to defenseman Justin Falk. He’d spend one year with the club before re-signing with Minnesota that summer, thus ending the Nedved branch after more than 10 years.

Radek Dvorak Branch

New York acquired the talented right wing in a three-team trade with the San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers on Dec. 30, 1999. The Rangers sent forward Todd Harvey a fourth-round pick in 2000 the other way.

Dvorak never scored more than 19 goals before coming to Rangers, and he potted just 11 in 46 games following the trade. But he broke out the next year, scoring 31 goals and 67 points in 82 games. He’d never score 20 again in his career, and he’d reach 50 points just once more.

After his career-highs in 2000-01, Dvorak’s production regressed. He had 17 goals and 37 points in 2001-02, and just six goals through 63 games the following year when he, along with Cory Cross, were sent to Edmonton for Anson Carter and Ales Pisa on March 11, 2003.

Pisa played just three games as a Ranger and left North America entirely after that season.

Carter’s time as a Ranger was short-lived, though he’d play a big role in a much bigger trade. A perennial 20-goal scorer for most of his career, he had just one goal in 11 games following the trade to New York, and had 10 in 43 games the next year before getting flipped to the Capitals for Jaromir Jagr.

Jagr would shine in New York for parts of four seasons. Along with Henrik Lundqvist, Jagr would lift the Rangers back to respectability in 2005-06 when he turned in the best single season in franchise history with 54 goals and 123 points, both records to this day.

Jagr was never traded, thus ending the Dvorak part of the trade.

Jan Hlavac Branch

The final member of the Czech line arrived in New York via a trade with Calgary in June 1999. Hlavac, along with a first and third round picks that year, for Marc Savard and a 1999 first.

The Rangers drafted Jamie Lundmark ninth overall, and he’d spend parts of three seasons in New York totalling 11 goals and 30 points in 119 games. The Rangers flipped him to Phoenix in October 2005 for Jeff Taffe, who played just two games for them.

Taffe was sent back to Phoenix just four months later for Martin Sonnenberg, who never played a game for the Rangers and returned to Europe that summer.

Hlavac turned in a solid rookie campaign in 1999-00, scoring 19 goals and 42 points in just 67 games. Those numbers, again, are impressive based on the era and the team. He followed it up with 28 goals and 64 points in 79 games the following year. 

That proved to be the highwater mark for Hlavac both as a Ranger and in the NHL, as he was traded that summer along with Kim Johnsson, Pavel Brendl and a 2003 third-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Eric Lindros and a conditional pick in 2003.

Lindros, who was nearly a Ranger a decade prior, was not the player he was in Philadelphia. In fact, he sat out the prior season due to differences with GM Bob Clarke over issues regarding the team’s handling of his concussions.

That being said, Lindros scored 37 goals and 73 points in 72 games his first year as a Ranger in 2001-02. But things would decline from there, as he followed it with 19 goals the following year. He appeared in just 39 games during his final year in New York, scoring just 10 goals. He signed with Toronto after the lockout.

Conclusion

For whatever reason, the Czech line clicked. It wasn’t a collection of stars. In fact, it was the opposite with three mostly journeyman players finding each other at the right place and time and forming chemistry. 

In the case of both Dvorak and Hlavac, neither player ever came close to replicating the success they had with the Rangers. Dvorak played for seven more teams after leaving the Rangers. Hlavac returned to the Rangers for the 2003-04 season, but the magic was gone as he managed just five goals in 72 games.

Nostalgia is a crazy thing and makes us remember things more fondly than we probably should have. But when it comes to the Czech Line, the numbers match the memories.

Note: HockeyDB was used for reference

Matt Calamia spent six seasons as a digital content producer and writer for the New York Rangers. Prior to... More about Matt Calamia