Saturday, February 23, 2008

Crunch Time is HERE

First Star

This is our favorite time of the year because we get to see which prospects will stand out and show us why they will either turn into legit future Rangers or take themselves out of the picture. This is the time of season where contracts and tryouts with Hartford are earned.

Our Star tonight Tomas Zaborsky is a great example of someone who really has to step his game up if he has any hopes of the Rangers offering him a contract. As a 2006 draft pick, the Rangers have to make a decision as to whether or not to offer to offer him a Ranger contract, a Hartford contract or let him walk.

With the Rangers full of smallish forwards Zaborsky has to do something to stand out and we believe he has this season. After tonight's game Zaborsky is 28-32-60 which ties him with Bobby Sanguinetti as the leading prospect scorers but he is also a +11 which while plus/minus can be misleading helps support our belief that Zaborsky is more than just a offensive weapon.

However what is making Zaborsky stand out is that when his game is on then his Saginaw Spirit can defeat anyone. Tonight it was the Oshawa General with wonderkid John Tavares who lost to the Spirit 6-4. That makes it 3 straight wins over 3 of the best teams in the OHL and Zaborsky has been a huge factor in each win.

This evening Zaborsky had 2 assists along with a +2 to lead the Spirit. As the Spirit are fighting to move up in the playoff seedings Zaborsky is elevating his game. Zaborsky has gone 2-4-6 with a +7 in the last 3 wins. Something else that stands out is that in his last 15 games Zaborsky has taken just 1 minor penalty.

When Zaborsky was struggling to score in January so was his Spirit team struggling to win. This month Zaborsky is now 4-6-10 and his Spirit are 7-3. We believe Zaborsky has more than earned the right to join Hartford when his season in the OHL ends.

Second Star

Last night we welcomed Greg Beller back to our prospect report so tonight he goes out and earns a star. We cannot say we blame him for wanting to make up for lost time after all that he went though at Yale.

In case you missed it, Beller left Yale during the holiday break and joined the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL as an import player. The move appears to have worked out for both player and team as in 23 games; Beller is 10-9-19 in 23 games for the Vipers.

While we do not know much about the Vipers, we are happy to see that Beller has found a home with a team that will help restart his career. We remember last season as Beller was described to us a large player blessed smaller player skills and talent. We hope that the Vipers are helping him regain his game and salute Beller for not quitting on himself.

Saturday night Beller had a goal and an assist in a losing effort as his Vipers lost to the Penticton Vees 6-3 in the regular season finale for the Vipers. Next up for Beller and his Vipers with be the Interior Conference playoffs as they will be going in as the 4th seed. We will be trying to contact the Vipers and see if we can check on Beller.

The Rest of the Prospect Evening

It looks like it is welcome back weekend as Ranger 2004 3rd round pick Billy Ryan of the Maine Blackbears returned to action after missing 9 games with an injury. Ryan a senior forward returned to help Maine break a 7 game losing streak with a 3-2 win over UMass. Ryan while not earning an assist on the game winner made the play to get the game winner going. For those of you who have ESPNU, Ryan and his Blackbears will be in action on Sunday starting at 4PM EDT/1PM PDT.

Carl Hagelin and his number one ranked Michigan Wolverines lowered their magic number to 2 points with a 5-2 thumping of rival Michigan State to earn a split of the weekend series.

Max Campbell and his Western Michigan Broncos got whipped 8-1 by the Miami of Ohio Redhawks. Campbell was held scoreless as this Broncos were totally outplayed in every area as Miami jump out to a 5-0 first period lead and cruised from there.

Danny Hobbs was scoreless as his Ohio Junior Bluejackets dropped a 5-2 decision to the Lincoln Stars.

Antonie Lafleur was the back up as his Prince Edward Island Rocket defeated the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4-3

Jordan Foote was a healthy scratch as his Michigan Tech Huskies got shut out 3-0 by St. Cloud State. As much as we like Jordan his play on Friday when he took 2 bad penalties earned this seat in the press box. Knowing Jordan this will be a wake up call for the senior.

(Picture Credits Tomas Zaborsky/Saginaw Spirit, Greg Beller/Yale)

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