Thursday, January 1, 2009

Building a Better Beller

Prospect Park Player of the Week

For Greg Beller, the road to a professional hockey career has been for the most part nothing but roadblocks thrown in his path. The Rangers 6th round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft has seen a season wiped out due to injury, one due to not fitting into a coach's style and now due to college transfer rules.

The one thing nobody will ever be able to say that Beller does not have is heart as we know firsthand that the 6'3 220 forward has one of the biggest hearts we have ever seen in a prospect.

We have been waiting for Beller to finally make his season debut for the University of Manitoba Bisons as Beller was considered a college transfer from Yale and required to sit out until this past weekend.

Talk about making up for lost time in a hurry starting with a goal (and second star) on Saturday. Sunday was another goal but Monday was 2 goals as well as an assist (and a first star) for the Bisons.

If you were not keeping track that is 4 goals, 1 assist and 2 stars in 3 games for Beller. For us it means here is our Prospect of the Week and yes some bias comes into play here which we will not deny

Our bias is due to knowing Beller's history since becoming a Ranger draft pick as we have watched him break his collarbone, come back then break the same collarbone 3 games after he returned. We watched as he tried to fit in at Yale for a coach who did not recruit him and then gave up on him but Beller never complained.

We watched as Beller went to the BCHL and joined the Vernon Vipers where we discovered what a clutch player Beller could be. In the BCHL conference playoffs with his team trailing 3 games to 1, Beller made the play that started one of the best playoff series comebacks we have ever witnessed.

With the series all but over, Beller made first a defensive play (diving to stop a sure goal), then choked off a rally with a goal that wound up as the game winner in Game 5. Beller then repeated his heroics in game 6 with another huge goal and by all rights should have stolen game 7 if not for a blown call by a ref that cost his team the series.

Beller never complained, never said a word about all the bad that had happened to him when he had every right to. In fact when we interviewed Beller for the Blueshirt Bulletin right after that series, we had to coax him into revealing that he played Game 7 one handed due to an injury we knew he had suffered in game 6.

Beller just needs to play, he can skate quite well for a big man, he has the offensive moves of a smaller man and if he can stay healthy the power of a power forward. Right now call him a project player (Rangers own his rights until 2010) but a project worth investing in.

Beller does many of the things Ranger fans complain is lacking on the team; he goes directly to the net, he fights for the puck in the corners and comes back to play defense. Ranger fans will love this kid if he ever gets the chance to make it to Broadway.

Beller on Broadway has a nice ring to it.


Other news

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) is going to show us if he can be a real leader as over the last week, his Prince Edward Island Rocket have traded away their captain and one of their assistants as the Rocket appear to have given up on the 2008-09 season.

We hold out hope that Doyle can find himself traded as well in order to further his professional development.

In case you missed it the Evgeny Grachev/Tomas Kundratek (both 2008 3rd round) matchup has seen the game time swapped to 7:30 with now Team USA playing at 3:30 against Slovakia.

Let us see if anyone listens to our warnings this time as if either Russia or Team USA look past their opposition then both teams could wind up playing for 5th place. Slovakia's investment into their junior program is slowly starting to pay off and the Russians got embarrassed by Sweden.

The best thing for Russia would be for Team USA to get upset to send them the message about taking someone lightly. The Czechs always are motivated to play against Russia so beware the Czechs.

(Greg Beller Courtesy of Yale)

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