Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Looking at the Wolfpack Moves

Since the Wolfpack made their roster cuts on Monday we decided to break those moves down to see how they will affect the possible pro potential of some of the Ranger prospects.

It is a shame that we no longer have Bruce Berlet as the writer of the Hartford Wolfpack because the Wolfpack fans have lost their best voice about the Wolfpack. Now it seems that the Hartford Courant is going to cover the Wolfpack on an irregular basis which will hurt the quality of Wolfpack news for Ranger fans.

The first cuts that stood out to us were Ryan Hillier (2006 3rd) and Tomas Zaborsky (2006 5th) who were sent to Charlotte of the ECHL as this is a disappointment for both of the 2006 draft picks. Hillier has the excuse that he is coming off of hernia surgery but that still does not mean the end of the world for him.

What most people do not realize is that in today's hockey world the one thing a prospect can not afford to lose is his off-season workouts as Hillier did. Hillier sat out most of the summer due to recovering from his surgery and from our experience for every one day you lose in the summer then it takes three days to catch up during training camp and regular season.

The knock on Hillier while he was with Halifax was that he did not make the effort to make the jump to the next level. We know he has the talent and we know he has the skill but now the question is will he fight hard to get back to Hartford?

Tomas Zaborsky does not have that excuse but his problem starts with the Rangers having so many smallish prospects within the system already. Zaborsky did not get off to a good start at Traverse City and it carried over to the Wolf Pack training camp.

We expect that this will hurt Zaborsky in the long run because while with Saginaw, Zaborsky needed to have a bodyguard on the ice to protect him and we question whether or not Charlotte has a talented forward who can feed off Zaborsky's offense while still being his protector.

David Skokan on the other hand should have remained in the QMJHL working on his offense instead of signing an AHL contract. The Ranger's 2007 seventh round pick in our eyes was not ready for the professional ranks despite how much we liked Skokan.

However the problem with being 20 and in the QMJHL as an import player makes it hard for a player like Skokan to find a home these days. Skokan we fear is going to spend more time having to fight than he will on improving his offensive game.

Skokan's best hope for making his way to the Rangers was by becoming a pest who had some offense and in his case we are very concerned that Skokan might spend more time in the penalty box than he will on offense. A shame too because there is potential and our hope is that someone makes sure that Skokan does not play the clown because if Skokan tries to pull some of the antics from the QMJHL then we will see someone cleaning his clock.

At least Ryan Hillier is going to have a friendly face to hang out with in Charlotte as his former Halifax Moosehead linemate Peter-James Corsi will be joining Charlotte as a free agent signing. PJ is a hard worker who Checker fans will soon jump on his bandwagon because of his work ethic and never say die attitude.

Of the other names sent to Charlotte only Lyon Messier the son of you know who is a really nice guy but sadly the ECHL is as far as we project him as a player on a regular basis. Messier simply does not have any offense and while he tries very hard just does not have the skill to make the jump to the higher levels.

Newcomer Wolfpack Names to Watch

For heart and pure soul then we have to start with Dale Weise (2008 4th) who becomes the first Ranger draft pick in the Renney era to be selected, signed and assigned to the system. Credit Jon Keen and the folks upon in Swift Current who predicted from the moment the Rangers drafted Weise that he would earn this contract from the Rangers.

A self made player who has worked his butt off from being just a 4th liner to the leading goal scorer on the Swift Current Broncos last season. Weise plays a power game but also can toss enough finesse to play with the skill players as well.

Ken Germander gave us an idea who he was thinking about using Weise with when at Traverse City Germander used Artem Anisimov with Weise. Now toss in say Brodie Dupont and you have the makings of a huge sized line that will put up some serious numbers.

The second person we would like to point out as someone to watch is free agent Justin Soryal who just might be the second strongest player in the entire Ranger system. Soryal comes from the tradition rich Peterborough Pete's in the OHL and has like Weise been a self made player.

Soryal has come a long way from being known as the heavyweight champ of the OHL to last season when he became a team leader on the Petes. Last season was a down year for Peterborough as Soryal was asked to do just about everything which affected his numbers,

This season having a lot more talent we think will help Soryal as he develops as a professional player. We are hoping that Soryal will get to play with Tom Pyatt as we believe both players can help each other with their development as the extremely strong Soryal will park himself in the crease drawing a lot of attention giving the smaller Pyatt the skating room to work with.

Our last player to talk about is also someone who we are very happy for and that is Tysen Dowzak the free agent from the Kelowna Rockets. Before we go any further we really want to caution people that Dowzak is a project player plain and simple.

He needs work on his skating, his positioning, even some fighting classes (his jaw is too much an easy target) and some adjustments to the speed of the AHL level. Having said that we also believe that Dowzak is a worthwhile project to invest in as we believe this is the strongest player in the entire Ranger system.

This "gentle giant" is most likely going to start off as an enforcer if the Wolfpack keep him and we hope they do. When we look at the Wolfpack Roster then we see a home for him as Sauer is not going to be 100% to start the season, tryout player Kondratiev is someone we wonder will be willing to sign an AHL contract and quite honestly the Rangers are making a major mistake only carrying 6 defensemen so we expect either Fahey or Potter to get recalled sooner than later.

As with the case with Soryal and Weise, Dowzak remade himself after a very bad -24 during the 2006-2007 season to a +29 last season in Kelowna. Dowzak also seems to have this habit of beating the odds as so many have written him off only to see Dowzak fool them all.

You will see a player who we believe that if he gets a chance will become a mainstay for the Pack about mid-season mainly because Dowzak will refuse to accept failure. It is kind of scary to think that once the 6'4 Sauer gets healthy to pair him with the 6'5 Dowzak on defense.

In any event our message to Wolfpack players and fans is simple, if you think this season's team is going to be good then wait until you see what is coming over the next couple of years. Life for Wolfpack fans is about to get even better when you see which prospects are coming.

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