Tuesday, January 8, 2008

First Half Report

Normally when someone does a report looking back at how the prospects did, they assign the prospects some sort of grade. Letter grades only tell you what a prospect has done, not what he needs to do.

Prospect Park likes to do things differently so instead of grading we will offer what we would like to see out of the prospects in the second half of their season.

Today we start with the prospects playing in the CHL leagues and we start with the player who we believe will have the most impact upon the future of the Rangers.

Bobby Sanguinetti

By the numbers alone (17-26-43 +10) the first half of the season has been awesome for the 2006 first round pick. Toss in a selection to Team USA, playing for a first place team (Brampton Battalion) and leading all OHL defensemen in scoring and all should be right in the world right?

Almost, as what we would like to see from Sanguinetti over the second half is a bit more consistency with his goal scoring. Before Sanguinetti left for Team USA he had only 2 goals over his last 13 games.

On the season it was 6 goals in September, 3 goals in October, 7 goals in November and just 1 goal in December (but in only 7 games) which gives us a goal for Sanguinetti to become more consistent with his goal scoring the rest of the season. At 17 goals now, we would also like to see Sanguinetti finish the season with no less than 30 goals.

Another goal we would like to set for Sanguinetti is to take charge of the Battalion and make them his team. The true test for a superstar is does he make his teammates better players.

It is something we do believe Sanguinetti can do, lead the Battalion as deep as possible in the OHL playoffs. What Sanguinetti should not do is defer to others and play a conservative game.

Oh last thing about Sanguinetti, notice we did not mention anything about his supposed weak defensive play? That is because between Sanguinetti's own hard work, his play at the World Under-20 and his Brampton coach Stan Butler, those concerns have been answered for us.

Ryan Hillier

He finished the first half as the leading goal scorer with 21 goals and is the current leading scorer among prospects with 46 points. Yet Halifax Moosehead (QMJHL) Ryan Hillier still has a lot to prove to show that his professional potential remains solid.

Hillier fell to the Rangers in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft because while he had a red hot start to the 2005-06 season, his finish was the opposite as he was ice cold and his stock dropped.

In the 2006-07 season, Hillier struggled early and finished red hot as he set career highs in goals (32) and points (59). But that Hillier remained labeled a half season player. So far this season, Hillier has shown a complete game at both ends of the ice and on both special teams

Of his 21 goals, 9 each were power play and even strength with the remaining 3 shorthanded. There is no question Hillier can score so what do we want to see out of him the rest of the season?

Number one is to finish this season even stronger than he started it. Hillier is on a pace to score 40 goals so we want to see him ramp it up and set 50 as his target. But we also want to see him match that in assists as well because a 100 point season is not beyond what we believe Hillier is capable of.

Number two is simple, Hillier has some teammates who get most of the notice so it is time for Hillier to shine and not wait for his coach to ask him to step up his game. We have noticed that when Hillier is playing well then the Mooseheads win. Set a goal for himself of playing in the Memorial Cup.

Tomas Zaborsky

Zaborsky playing for the Saginaw Spirit (OHL) started slow but since November has been the most consistent scorer among the Ranger prospects. Since November, Zaborsky has put points on the board in 18 of the 22 games in which he has played.

Even better is that Zaborsky has points in 29 out of the 37 games he has played in. The longest he has gone without scoring is 2 game which he has done twice.

Zaborsky after his last game tied Ryan Hillier for the most goals from a prospect with 21 (career high as well) and is just one point away from matching his point total (43) from last season.

So what goals should be set for Zaborsky who has been the model of consistency? To be honest one goal would be to continue playing like he has been. It is hard to ask for more out of Zaborsky but we will. Zaborsky is also on a pace for 40 goals and 40 assists but unlike Ryan Hillier, Zaborsky came from Europe known as a offensive weapon.

The Rangers told us Zaborsky had 46 goals in 45 games so we want to see 50 goals out of Zaborsky as well. We also want to see Zaborsky assert himself as a leader given that he is 20 and playing as an overaged player.

Since Zaborsky's team is not expected to do much in the OHL playoffs then we want to see Zaborsky earn himself a ticket to Hartford in time for the AHL playoffs so we can see how he does against better talent.

David Skokan

Skokan is fast becoming our pick for the stealth prospect of the season, his numbers for the Rimouski Oceanic are not earth shattering but his performance at the World Under-20 was pretty solid,

Skokan was the scoring leader(2-6-8) among all of the Ranger prospects despite playing for a very weak Slovakian team. Skokan was the only Ranger prospect to be named as one of his team's 3 best players.

We gave Skokan the MVP for his performance at the World Under-20 but now that he has returned to Rimouski we have some serious goals for him.

First goal is while we believe Skokan plays better against better competition, we want to see him now do that against the rest of the QMJHL. At just 8-14-22, those are not going to get him an invite to Hartford.

Yes we understand that his Oceanic team is just as bad offensively as the Rangers but that is why Skokan has to look more for his offense. As we tracked him over his first half, the trend we saw was that the better he played offensively the better he was on faceoffs.

Rimouski is barely going to make the QMJHL playoffs so if Skokan has any hope of getting an ATO from Hartford then he will have to play his second half as if he was going against the WJC teams every night.

We believe Skokan needs at least 20 goals to get a ticket to Hartford but IF he gets that ticket he will surprise a lot of people with his play.

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