For Ranger prospects Evgeny Grachev and Tomas Kundratek the news from today's CHL Import Draft could not have been a better outcome. It is hard to figure who actually got the best of today's news, the CHL teams, the Rangers or the prospects themselves but we do know one group for sure who did and that is Ranger fans as they will have two prospects that much more advanced.
If you are not aware of what happened then the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL selected the second of the Ranger's two third round Tomas Kundratek of the Czech Republic with the the 15th pick of import draft. Then the Brampton Battalion of the OHL used their pick (40th) on the Rangers other third rounder Evgeny Grachev.
If you want to talk best of all worlds this is as close as you can get for other than both European prospects winding up on the same team this works out for the prospects. They are going to wind up with teams that will help speed up their development while providing a winning atmosphere to play in.
We know both teams very well as they are 2 of the best programs in all of the CHL, both have excellent teachers as coach and general manager but both also understand what a prospect needs to do in order to make it to the NHL.
At Medicine Hat, Kundratek is going to be playing for Willie Desjardins who will help Kundratek not only adapt to North American hockey but will not force feed Kundratek just to win games. We watched as Michael Sauer played for Desjardins just 2 seasons ago.
In just half a season we watched Sauer become better in his defensive zone coverage under Desjardins. Sauer who was coming from the mess known as the Portland Winterhawks actually saw his ice time drop after being traded but his productivity increase.
The Tigers last season finished 4th in the WHL's Central Division last season even after losing key players from their 2007 WHL Championship team. On their roster (if he returns ) is a fellow countryman of Kundratek goalie Tomas Vosvrada.
Having a fellow Czech on the roster will hopefully help Kundratek to lessen the homesickness that many European prospects go though. Having someone who has been though the same issues helps a prospect adapt which allows the prospect to think more about hockey and less than what he has left behind.
For Evgeny Grachev who really wants to play in North America; playing for Stan Butler is almost the perfect situation for him. Butler is a legend in the CHL coaching ranks as no coach that we know of has helped more prospects become NHL players.
Butler's 1994-95 Oshawa General team produced a CHL record 10 players selected in a single draft. From Zdeno Chara, Jason Spezza, Wojtek Wolski to current Ranger Blair Betts we are talking about a professor of hockey development.
Grachev is going to become a much better over all player while the Troop will have themselves a star. We won't even bother waiting to see how Grachev does in training camp as we think one season with Stan Butler and we will see Grachev heading to Hartford as a well rounded player.
We can say that because if Grachev (who has already shined at Ranger summer school) follows the basic premise of hard work will lead to high rewards will have a great season. Grachev has already shown his willingness to play a physical game so we almost feel sorry for those in the OHL who are going to see a 6'3 200 lb forward in their face.
The best part is one year from now that the Rangers will be reaping the rewards.
Summer School Day 3
Funny how things shake out as the annual prospect camp helps the Rangers evaluate and determine where each prospect is that there is always the one unknown who steps up and earns a longer look.
Right now it appears that defenseman Nick Pageau is trying to become the next Dan Girardi as it appears that he will be earning an invite to the annual Traverse City tournament. We are hearing that one more defender along with one forward will be asked to come back to the fall camp.
The sad news according to Steve Zipay of Newsday is that David Kveton will be returning to the Czech Republic and that in our eyes is a major shame. In this case the blame is not on the Rangers who gave Kveton 2 more attempts to try to earn a Ranger contract more than he should have.
Kveton will most likely play hockey in Europe and perhaps make a decent living at it but because of some really bad advice is not going to develop into the player he should have been. In our eyes Kveton had all the potential to become a huge playmaker in the NHL had he stayed in North America.
Instead whoever was whispering in his ear that he was going to get more playing time in the Czech Republic while playing against a higher level of competition was wrong. Had Kveton remained in North America, he would have gotten to play on an QMJHL championship team while playing against the best teams of his age group.
Nothing angers and frustrates us more than to see a talented prospect be wasted like this.
The bigger shame is that we are sure someone will blame the Rangers here and that is so very far from the truth.
41 minutes ago