Friday, December 5, 2008

Everybody Let's Polka

While people are wondering about the title of this post, it has to do with how the stars wound up being awarded as originally the 3rd star was going to Tomas Kundratek which would have given us a 1,2, and 3 (as in the rounds the prospects were selected).

Instead of changing the title though we thought in a few years many a Ranger fan will be dancing about the play of the Draft class of 2008 just maybe not a polka.

The First Star- Michael Del Zotto

We can stop wondering about Michael Del Zotto as we can now say aloud that the Ranger's 2008 First Round Pick is officially on a hot streak. The defenseman for the Oshawa Generals had his 12th point in his last 9 games by scoring his 6th goal of the season.

While it would been nicer if Del Zotto's Generals would not had lost 4-2 to the Plymouth Whalers, the bigger story to us is that Del Zotto is starting to show the form that led the Rangers to use the 20th pick on him.

Disregard the -2 for the game as Del Zotto is being asked to do everything on defense for the Generals and we are happy with his progress. We wanted to see him score more goals and now that Del Zotto is healthy, we are getting our wish.

The thought of Del Zotto joining Bobby Sanguinetti as part of the Ranger blueline of the future is getting better and better with each passing game.

Second Star -Derek Stepan

Forgive us if we go overboard when we talk about the Draft Class of 2008 but when you have this much talent then you have the right to get excited. Derek Stepan scored his 3rd goal of the season as well as his 7th assist to help the Wisconsin Badgers climb over the 500 mark with a 3-2 win over Alaska-Anchorage on Friday evening.

The Ranger's 2008 2nd round pick was moved to 3rd line center and showed that he will not remain there long. First Stepan got the secondary assist on teammate Blake Geoffrion's 2nd period power play goal.

Then also in the second period as well as again on the power play, Stepan set himself in the slot as teammate Mike Davies fed him for the quick snap shot in at 17:22 of the second period. It gave the Badgers a 2-0 lead that they would not give back as they improved their record to 8-7-2 on the season.

Third Star Tysen Dowzak

The Ranger's 2008 UFA defenseman has reason to smile as Dowzak got just his second assist of the season to help his Kelowna Rockets to a 3-2 win over the Regina Pats. The normally defensive minded defender was out on the power play for his Rockets when he got the play started that led to Brandon McMillian's 6th goal of the season.

It was a good game for Dowzak to have as the young defender reminds us that he is in fact a project player who is a raw talent who does have a solid upside. At times one forgets that not every prospect is going to be NHL ready within a year or two and Dowzak sent that reminder on Friday evening.

IF Dowzak can develop then the Rangers will fill the hole of a stay at home defender with size and strength. Dowzak stayed in position and just his size helped to alter Regina's attack in the offensive zone which after watching the Ranger's defense against the Canadians was a breath of fresh air.


The Rest of the Prospects

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) was a +1 as his Medicine Hat Tigers edged the Moose Jaw Warriors 5-4 in WHL action. Kundratek is very much entrenched as part of the Tiger's first pair defense.

Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) had an assist as his Brampton Battalion lost to the London Knights 3-2. The Troop thought they had scored the tying goal just as the 3rd period was ending but according to the video review the puck was just entering the crease as time expired.

Excuse us if we have our doubts on that call as the Troop lost back to back games for the first time since Oct 11th.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) had one of those nights that he would rather forget as the Prince Edward Island Rocket forward was scoreless as well as a team high -3 in the Rocket's 5-4 overtime loss to the Victoriaville Tigres.

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) had a shorthanded assist as his Michigan Wolverines blasted in-state rivals Michigan State 6-1. Hagelin was returned to the first line left wing position for this game in part because of his offense returning.

Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) remained on the bench as his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies lost in the shootout to the Chicoutimi Saguenéens 3-2. It appears that Lafleur will have to wait until fellow goalie Matthew Dopud has a bad game before he gets another start.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) was not in the lineup for UMass as the Minutemen whipped on UConn 5-1. This one was not much to talk about as UConn is trying to become a power in all sports and but it is not working in hockey.

(Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan courtesy of the New York Rangers, Tysen Dowzak courtesy of the Kelowna Rocket)


Salvage21 said...

Prospect Park is one of about eight Rangers sites I visit each day to get my fix. I really appreciate all the work you do to keep Rangers fans in the loop and excited about the future. With that: Are the Rangers ACTUALLY good at drafting now? Why did Grachev, who was officially ranked 9(I believe) among European skaters fall to the third round. And you did a piece a couple of months back making the case for Artem Anisimov as our top prospect, does that still hold up?

Jess Rubenstein said...

Thanks Salvage for the support so now for your questions.

1- I would say that under Gord Clark that the improvement when it comes to drafting is real. Clark has a long history of finding players as if not for the Islander giving away their youth during the last decade they would have been a dynasty.

2-Grachev fell for 3 reasons that are dumb. First his skating was somewhat suspect in the eyes of many (I saw him in one game prior to the draft and did not see the same issue). Second it was Russian/NHL nonsense which makes many a NHL team avoid drafting Russians. Third is was just (in my eyes) simply bad scouting as anyone who saw Grachev in the Under-17 championship or the Under-18 would have seen how Grachev's game elevates when playing against the better competition.

Grachev is smart with solid hockey sense that lets him read AND react to plays almost instantly, you can not teach that.

3-Who is the Ranger top prospect now? I have not seen Anisimov play this season but I have long believed that Anisimov when he grows into his body will allow his offense to catch up to his defense.

What I never expected to happen was for Grachev to explode like he has which makes this (along with Del Zotto) as a 3 man race.

For right now it remains Anisimov strictly because of his being at the more advanced state of progress.

When all 3 make it to the Rangers I think Del Zotto might catch and pass everyone over time.