Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A November to Remember

2008 is starting to shape up as the year that the Rangers picked 7 players who earned professional contracts which is a far cry from the 2002 draft.

That draft which in all rights was perhaps (along with the 1996 draft) the worst draft in Ranger's history as only Petr Prucha (8th round) ever made it to the Rangers.

That leads us to our Dean Prentice Prospect of the Month as what started out as a second straight selection for Chris Doyle of the Prince Edward Island Rocket wound up being the month where the man-child known as Evgeny Grachev broke out.

Grachev who was the first of two Ranger 3rd round picks in the 2008 had as the title of this article says a "November to Remember". In 13 games played during the month of November, Grachev was 11-9-20, +5 with 5 power play goals, 1 shorthanded goal, 1 game winning goal and 1 insurance goal.

But that is just beginning to tell you the Grachev story as 6 times during the month, Grachev earned one of the game's three stars, of which 4 were the game's first star. Grachev highlights include a 4 goal game against Ottawa on November 16th, 2 games with 2 goals as well as points in 10 of 13 games.

We also need to toss in a goal and an assist for Team Russia (including a Russian Player of the Game award too) during the recently concluded ADT Canada/Russia Challenge in which we believe Grachev assured himself of being named to Team Russia for the World Under-20 Championships which get underway later in December.

Oh wait did you think we were finished with the Grachev highlights? Oh no there is more as Grachev is currently leading all first year OHL players with his 16-13-29 (also good for 16th overall in the OHL) and finally; Grachev is the leading goal scorer among Ranger prospects with his 16 goals.

There is a reason why the name "Godzilla" is starting to fit with Grachev as this monster of a young man is getting bigger and better as a player with each passing game.

Last month's winner Chris Doyle of PEI in the QMJHL did not have a bad month either as the Ranger's 2008 5th round pick was 5-13-18 in 13 games. In any other month that would have been good enough to win but this season is raising the bar with each month.


Victor Fernandes of Shootout is reporting that 2008 6th round pick Mitch Gaulton is going to find out within the next 2 weeks whether or not Gaulton will be allowed to rejoin the Erie Otters of the OHL after the Holiday Break.

Gaulton is being examined by Ranger doctors to measure how well his recovery has come as the Otters could really use Gaulton back in their lineup. Gaulton is making an almost unbelievable recovery from Tommy John Surgery so even if the Ranger doctors say no; it is still a win for Mitch in our eyes.


In prospect game action, Tysen Dowzak (2008 UFA) played in his 177th game as a member of the Kelowna Rockets and while the Rockets lost 4-2 to the Saskatoon Blades, this game will not be forgotten for a while by either team.

This was a fight filled affair mainly in the 3rd period and to be blunt we are disappointed not to see Dowzak as involved in any of the fights given how there were 5 different fights over a less than a 4 minute span. In all both teams combined for 36 penalties for a total of 126 PIMS.

Dowzak the 6'5 212 defender took one interference call, was a -1 and sorry when you are the size of Dowzak that just does not cut it if you have dreams of the NHL. Regan Bartel of Regan's Rangers was right the other night when he talked about Dowzak stepping out his comfort zone to flex his muscles.

Bartel raised an excellent point the other day in talking about another 6'5 defender that the Rocket's just traded when he said:

It always confuses me how a defenseman who is 6 foot 5 plays a game that doesn't revolve around physical play. If McIntosh was dynamic offensively, I could take the lack of physicality in his game. But with just one goal in 104 career games, it would be interesting to hear his explanation as to what type of defenseman he see's himself as. One thing is certain...he sure can skate.

The message should also not be lost on Dowzak as yes the Rangers could use a stay at home defender but they need one who will clear the crease with his body and give other teams a reason why not to come too close to the crease.

Dowzak has no offensive game so he needs that extra if he wants to earn a Ranger jersey and that extra is going to be using that body to his fullest advantage. We want to see a Dowzak make it as the Rangers have lacked the big monster body on the blueline since Beuk retired.

(Grachev courtesy of the Brampton Battalion)

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