Now this was the kind of day that needs to happen more often. From the happy news about Michael Del Zotto's trade, toss in Victor Fernandes letting the news out that Mitch Gaulton is expected to join the Erie Otter lineup next weekend to the return of Godzilla to the Brampton Battalion lineup with a bang.
Tonight's Star: Evgeny Grachev
Someone forgot to tell Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) that he is supposed to suffer from some sort of World Under-20 hangover and play poorly upon his return to the Troop. Let us hope nobody tells him as Godzilla scored his 20th goal of the season and added 2 assists as Brampton whipped the Sudbury Wolves 6-2.
For Grachev, this was the player we are used to seeing as he teamed with Matt Duchene (3 goals 2 assists in his own right) as the linemates had a line score that went like this: 4-3-7 +8 as the 2 played as if they had not been away for over 2 weeks.
Grachev got his night going as he set up Duchene's first goal (shorthanded) at 5:13 of the first period to give Brampton a 1-0 lead. Then Grachev got a secondary assist on Duchene's 3rd goal at 15:12 of the second which made the score 5-1 in favor of the Battalion.
Grachev then got his own goal when he poked in a Duchene rebound at 19:13 of the 2nd period which finished off the scoring for Battlion as they entered the 3rd period up 6-1. Grachev also was named the game's 2nd star for his efforts.
Grachev on the season is now 20-18-38 with a mind boggling +15 and 12 PIMS in just 31 games.
Great For All
Let me start by saying that my happiness over Micheal Del Zotto (2008 1st) being traded to London from Oshawa has nothing to do with the folks in Oshawa. The Generals were in a tough spot trying to rebuild on the fly and it is very hard to do.
Call it more a case of "been there, done that" as experience has taught us that for a prospect there are certain conditions which help a prospect's development.
The first is ice time as there really is a thing about "too much" ice time. Ideally a player who averages 20 minutes a night is able to remain fresh and focused on his game/development.
Anything more as we watched Michael Sauer ( who averaged almost 30 for the Winterhawks) go though and it becomes counter-productive. Sauer was exhausted by mid-season and his entire game suffered.
Second on our list is playing for a winner as when you are playing for a winning team used to winning then it becomes what you expect to do the higher you go in your career. It is almost impossible to measure how important it is for a player to get a chance to play pressure packed games.
A couple of years ago when Marc Staal carried Sudbury to the OHL finals it actually sped up his development to where he made the jump directly to the Rangers. Why one may ask is easy; Staal got to play in Game 7s, he got to play in single, double and even triple overtime games.
There is no better teaching tool then experiencing the pressure of a long playoff run. By joining the London Knights, Michael Del Zotto is now going from a team that would be "4 and out" to a team that is one of the favorites to win the OHL title.
Third on our list is a coach who has either been there forever or in this case a former NHLer. That is the case with London who has former NHLer Dale Hunter. Hunter no matter what you think of his past has over 1000 NHL games under his belt.
Del Zotto has a coach who can honestly tell him what life is like at the NHL level, what he needs to do in order to advance and who will teach him those tools. It also does not hurt that Hunter over the last 3 seasons coaching London has averaged winning 54 out of 68 games.
For Ranger fans, for Ranger scouts and player personnel directors but most of all for Del Zotto himself this a "win win" situation.
The Clock has Started
Victor Fernandes reported today that Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) is now traveling with the Erie Otters and while he will not play this weekend will make his season debut next weekend.
Fernandes talked with Otter GM Sherry Bassin who said that while Gaulton is not considered 100%, he will be playing when the Otters face Niagara and Sarnia.
That Gaulton is even getting to play this season is something else. Expected to be out 18 months after undergoing "Tommy John" Surgery; Gaulton is back in less than 6 months.
If the Rangers had the kind of heart and determination that Gaulton has then there would be no questioning the team's record. For us, Gaulton earns our respect for refusing to quit.
(Del Zotto Courtesy of the Rangers, Grachev courtesy of the Brampton Battalion, Gaulton courtesy the Erie Otters)
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