Tuesday, January 15, 2008

College Days

David Skokan was the only Ranger prospect in action on Tuesday night and while Skokan continues to play well, his Rimouski Oceanic lost 4-3 to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

Skokan had an assist in the loss giving him a 3 game scoring streak since his return. Skokan also continued his improved play on face off going 11-8 against the Drakkar.

For the season, Skokan is now 9-15-24 and his number are rising which is good for his hopes of a shot with the Wolfpack at the end of his season with the Oceanic.

The College Prospects

As we did with those playing in the CHL, instead of grades we are setting goals for the Ranger prospects for the second half of the season. Today we cover the prospects playing in the NCAA, CIS and USHL.

Billy Ryan is a senior at Maine who was the Rangers 3rd round pick in the 2004 draft. In all honesty Ryan was a prospect who we felt would have a breakout season this year. We felt that Ryan who had solid seasons his first 3 seasons was going to finally show the potential he first showed as a 16 year old.

Ryan had been injured during his previous off-seasons preventing Ryan from being able to do off-season work. This previous summer though Ryan was healthy which fueled the expectations of him.

However this season has been a major disappointment as Ryan is just 4-7-11 and is not showing any signs of breaking out of his slump. It is hard to set goals but we will because we think Ryan can salvage his season.

Ryan was expected to be a serious player this year as perhaps a power forward or at the worst a highly productive scorer. Ryan has been neither which is something we did not expect from a talented player.

We start by setting this goal of Ryan being the second half player he has been in his previous 2 seasons. Ryan has scored most of his goals late in the season as the Maine Blackbears fought for playoff positioning. We believe Ryan can reach double figures in goals with little problem.

That leads us to the second goal which is by going on a scoring binge might earn Ryan an ATO with the Wolfpack after the college season. Right now Ryan has to be viewed as off the radar and out of the Ranger plans but Ryan alone can change that by showing the rest of the world the skills we know he has.

Senior Jordan Foote is one of our favorite college players because nobody is ever going to outwork him. At Michigan Tech, Foote has been the loyal foot soldier who has been the Huskies defensive specialist asked to shut down the other team's best player.

At 6'3 218, Foote is one of the bigger Ranger prospects as the 2004 6th round pick has not been much of a scorer at the college level but we still are not going to let numbers decide his fate. Too often when watching the tape on Foote we keep seeing a player who with some work could translate into a power forward.

Foote we would like to see of course some goals (he has his annual 2 goals already) but to also keep doing his dirty work that we do not see from many Rangers period. Foote is not afraid to set up in the crease and with his size it is very hard to move him out.

Foote is so much like a younger Adam Graves with both his strength and attitude that on that alone we really hope he gets a look by the Rangers. The Rangers lack a prospect who will park himself in the crease, who will fight like mad along the boards and do all the dirty jobs a team needs to win.

The hardest part of our job is to say that someone has fallen off the radar and that sadly is the story of sophomore Greg Beller of Yale. Beller is no longer even on the Yale roster so we believe his playing days are over.

Beller a 6'3 205 lb winger only appeared in 2 games this season for Yale. The 6th round pick in the 2005 draft has struggled to regain his game after suffering 2 broken collarbones in 2005.

Beller is a nice kid who dreamed of becoming a doctor so our goal for him is to be able to continue on his path of following his dream and become the doctor he dreamed.

(Update we got word confirming that Greg Beller has left Yale but nobody knows where he is and what he is doing so we will begin the Search for Greg Beller)

The saying "good things happen to those who wait" might have had the two rather talented Ranger prospects in mind. We start with Max Campbell the Ranger's 2007 5th round pick in the 2007 who is attending Western Michigan University this season.

Campbell a 6' 170 center out of Strathroy Ontario comes to the WMU Broncos after a 46-49-95 in the WJBHL. His freshman season at WMU has not been bad despite the struggles that the Broncos have been having this season.

Campbell is 3-10-13 in his freshman season playing as the 2nd line center, Campbell is 3rd in scoring and 2nd in assists but those numbers would be higher if the exhibition games were included.

In either case, Campbell is showing all the signs of becoming a solid performer and that leads us to his goals. For starters we would like to see Campbell keep learning as he has been, it is not an easy adjustment asking a freshman to be the 2nd line center but Campbell is learning well.

We also want Campbell to be a little more agressive on his attack, taking the game to the other team. There is no reason why Campbell can not score 7 more goals by season's end to reach double figures.

Campbell like the next player we will talk about has the potential to become a solid performer and we will be watching.

This next player has to be the Ranger's steal pick of the 2007 draft and his name is Carl Hagelin of Sweden. The 6th round pick is playing on the NCAA division one top ranked Michigan Wolverines and is playing a key role even as a freshman.

While people are saying that Hagelin was invisible at the World Under-20 Championships let us point out that Hagelin came back with a silver medal. His role was to be the defensive stopper and he did it well.

If numbers are that important to you then as a freshman adjusting to North American hockey is 6-7-13 +11 in 20 games acceptable for you?

Hagelin is also a key part of the Wolverine penalty kill again we point out at a freshman. His play on the penalty kill has been noticed by his coaches and the media but since those are not number stats tend to get overlooked.

Wait there is more 2 of Hagelin's 6 goals have been game winners and when you factor in that Hagelin is playing for the legendary Red Berenson which is also going to help Hagelin as he develops. As part of 12 freshmen playing for Berenson, it is scary to think just how good Hagelin and his teammates will be in a couple of years.

For Hagelin, the first goal we want for him is to show those who doubt his potential how wrong they are. Keep doing what Hagelin has been doing which is playing solid defense while chipping in offense and help take the Wolverines to an NCAA Championship.

That leads us to the other goal as the games get more important we want to see how well Hagelin plays under pressure. Having already played in the World Under-20 this year then the NCAA Hockey Championships should be an easier adjustment.

We think that just like Campbell that Ranger fans will enjoy watching Hagelin develop.

Danny Hobbs is not in college yet but he already has signed a letter of intent to join the University of Massachusetts next season. This season the Ranger's 2007 7th round pick is playing in the USHL for the Ohio Junior Bluejackets and has us wondering about his potential.

Playing for a 2nd year team is a hard place to develop one's game but that is the situation Hobbs finds himself in. So far his forward progress has not gone as planned which is why the questions are forming about his future.

At 5-8-13 those numbers do not offer a lot of encouragement but his Junior Blackjacket team are growing though a lot of growing pains so we will cut Hobbs some slack since the Rangers still have 4+ years to decide about his future.

For now we want to see Hobbs show us a scoring streak the rest of his way. Last season Hobbs finished 10-11-21 in 60 games so Hobbs needs to pass those numbers in the remaining 30+ games he has remaining.

The Rangers told us that Hobbs played better against the better level of competition so now we would like to see Hobbs show us that. We would like to see Hobbs earn at least 6 stars of the game (any combination would be fine) out of his remaining games.

We want to see Hobbs take charge and show us what both Rangers and UMass see in him.

Eric Hunter turned down a chance to tryout for the Charlotte Checkers to attend the University of Alberta this season. To many this may seem like a crazy decision but when you look at why you might understand it better.

Of course you will have to read the Blueshirt Bulletin's next edition to find out all the details but again when we heard Hunter's logic we respected it and supported it. Hunter who suffered a very badly broken ankle in the 2007 WHL playoffs has fully recovered which makes his choice an even better move.

The Ranger's 6th round pick in the 2006 draft is having a very solid season playing for one of Canada's best schools the University of Alberta Golden Bears. The Golden Bears are ranked 2nd among Canadian colleges thanks in part to Hunter going 10-13-23 +14 in 19 games.

Hunter is 4th in scoring for the Canada West Conference, 2nd in points and 3 game winning goals. So for Hunter what we would like to see from him is even more scoring, Hunter is a power forward and we want to see him pour it on.

When the smoke clears we want to see Hunter finish the season with 25 goals no less and 25 assists. By dominating those he plays against the intent is to show that Hunter has fully recovered from his injury and deserves a second look by the Rangers.

For a franchise lacking in power players with serious offense it would be a shame not to give Hunter another look. The other goal of course would be to lead the Golden Bears to a National Championship so he can show Ranger fans that when the games get bigger then so does Hunter's game.

Our final goal for Hunter is to finish the spring semester with a 4.o0 GPA and we will be checking on him to see it happen. Hunter is a likable person who has had some bad breaks and deserves some good fortune for a change.

Tomorrow brings the prospect of the week award and more players in action.

(Photos Courtesy of: David Skokan-Rimouski Oceanic, Billy Ryan-Maine Blackbears, Jordan Foote-Michigan Tech, Greg Beller-Yale, Max Campbell-Western Michigan, Carl Hagelin-Michigan, Danny Hobbs-Ohio Junior Bluejackets/USHL, Eric Hunter-University of Alberta)

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