Tuesday, October 2, 2007

His Future Is Now

Once upon a time a bunch of Ranger fans had a dream, it was a simple dream whereas the New York Rangers drafted players with their first and second round selections and those prospects actually made the Ranger's roster.

That dream was where a draft pick made the team on his own merits not because he was used to pretend there was a rebuild going on like Manny Malhotra was and kept when he was not NHL ready.

The prospect made the team because he was expected to be a real contributor not because they could not send him to Hartford because he was too young like Dan Blackburn.

The Prospects according to the dream made the Rangers by earning their spot so ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages allow me the pleasure of welcoming the first Ranger first rounder to make the Ranger's opening night roster since Danny Blackburn in 2001, the future Ranger captain Marc Staal.

If you have been a Blueshirt Bulletin reader then you knew already that Prospect Park was predicting Staal making this Ranger roster last spring while watching Staal be voted the MVP of the OHL playoffs in a losing effort for the Sudbury Wolves.

All Staal did was pick up a struggling 6th seeded team and carry them on his shoulders all the way to an almost miraculous OHL Championship win. It was not the 5 goals or 15 assists in 22 playoff game were the kind of play that made you take notice.

It was watching a player log close to 30 minutes in regulation and then go out and play close to 15 very effective minutes more in overtime. It was watching a player who everyone was looking to make a play whether it was scoring, fighting or making a defensive stop do it.

Here is what to watch for with Staal

With Staal you are getting the total package both on offense and defense. He comes at you with an accurate shot that can stay low to the ice and be misdirected for tip ins and deflections. Look for him to play a lot with the Dubinsky line because he will be the protector of that smaller line.

You are getting a smart passer who plays a low risk high reward style of play. He does not play recklessly as he will stay focused on his responsibilities not only to his partner but also his goalie.

You will not see him turn the puck in his own end as his first response is clear first if not then carry out. He still needs to improve his upper body so for now think he will look for the safe outlet pass to leave the zone.

Staal will pick his spots but when he sees a strong chance to go end to end he will take it. When he does do not be shocked if he scores because as I said he plays low risk, high reward.

Renney had Staal going up against Jagr in practice all the time and that will pay dividends as well because Staal learns from his mistakes. He will not be in awe when he takes to the ice as a Ranger since he has been working out with NHL players for several years now.

Staal on defense will keep his feet moving which will help keep him out of the penalty box. He likes to line players up for the heavy bodychecks on the side boards but not behind the goal line as that would take him out of the play.

You will also see him jump on anyone who runs one of his teammates, he may not win all the fights but he will put up a good show. Keep an eye on he directs his teammates on the ice before he makes a play. He is very good at anticipating a play and then adjusting to the situation.

Staal is going to start as the 3rd pair but as the season wears on I fully expert him to finish the season paired with Tyutin as part of the first pair. I expect by season's end when the Rangers need a stop on defense there will be Staal. Same on the penalty kill.

There is a lot of pressure on Staal to develop fast but as I did in the tale of the tape last week, Staal likes the spotlight so I believe he will handle the NYC pressure quite well. I think he will start slow, learning his game and when he "gets it" nobody will miss his coming out party.

Prospect Report

The focus of this site is on the future Staals and Dubinskys so we did have David Skokan of Rimouski in action last night. Skokan had yet another strong overall game netting 2 secondary assists (2-6-8 in 9 games good for 26th in the OMJHL) but his Rimouski Oceanic still lost 4-3 to the Chicoutimi Saguenéens,

Skokan had an interesting game earning a double minor in the 2nd period which led to a Sagueneens power play goal but also went 13-11 on faceoffs and was credited with 4 good hits.
Skokan is also going to be featured in the next issue of the Blueshirt Bulletin so look for my feature on him.

Skokan is turning his game up a notch showing that there is more than just his checking side to his game. Now since Skokan is responding to our calls then we would like to see some overall consistency.

So far it has been a strong defensive game then a strong offensive game then it was good faceoffs then poor faceoffs. For David to merit consideration as a serious prospect we need to see him put it all together and do it for a bunch of games at a time.

We believe he can do it as Skokan is a smart player who is understanding what is at stake for him this season.

Tomorrow it will be Brandon Dubinsky's turn to get the look at but his will mean a lot to me because I am here today writing this in many ways due to Dubinsky.

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