Thursday, January 22, 2009

No Shock To Us

Memo to Larry Brooks of the Post, the person who's picture is on the left is Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) and he just so happens to be a member of the 2009 OHL Eastern Conference All-Star team.

Guess Larry that Del Zotto is not as bad you tried to suggest just because he did not get an invite to Team Canada's tryout camp. We would have like to see Del Zotto playing for Canada but the bigger picture is more important.

That bigger picture is that Del Zotto earned this selection while playing for a weak Oshawa General team. That picture also tells us that recent prospect history says that Del Zotto is following in the footsteps of some names that Ranger fans might know.

In this very all-star game last year, Bobby Sanguinetti (2006 1st) was one of the players of the game. Marc Staal (2005 1st) played in this very hockey game twice and if you want to dig deep then the only time the London Knights (Del Zotto's current team) won the Memorial Cup had the young man who's picture we have here on their roster.

In other words, Michael Del Zotto is a player and is going to be a player for the Rangers. This all-star selection is in a way vindication for the Ranger scouts who fought for this selection.

Of course the day that Del Zotto gets selected, his London Knights were in action against the rising Niagara Ice Dogs in the first of a home and home series.

Niagara upset London 5-2 as the Ice Dogs jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back. Del Zotto had an assist but was a -2 as the Ice Dogs kept the Knight offense off balance the entire game.

Del Zotto is now 8-29-37 on the season but a -11 which can be discounted since most of his minus came while with the Generals. Good things are about to happen with Del Zotto.

We also have to be very happy to see that the OHL Western Conference All-Star roster is also going to have a Ranger prospect on it as well as Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) was named to the roster.

We call Grachev "Godzilla" and with good reason as the young Russian has had a season that we did expect from him. At 25-22-47 +20, we said that playing for Stan Butler would be the best thing for Grachev's development.

There is nothing that can help your development more than playing for a team that knows when they show up that they have an excellent chance of winning. Nothing helps a team like the Rangers develop their prospects than having them gain experience by playing in pressure games.

Grachev got his first real taste in the World Under-20 Championships playing for Russia. He will get an idea of his NHL future when he plays with and against his OHL peers in the OHL All-Star game.

Until then we have to settle for nights like Thursday where Grachev had a goal to extend his scoring streak to 9 straight games (8-6-14) as the Brampton Battalion shut out the Saginaw Spirit 3-0 to win their 5th straight.

If you are a believer in superstitions then realize that the last time Grachev had a streak like this one was when his Battalion ran off their record 16 game winning streak. Grachev wound up with a 10 game scoring streak.


Friday our eyes will be focused in Kingston Ontario as we hear that Mitch Gaulton will finally make his 2009 season debut with the Erie Otters. Gaulton was in New York to be examined by the Ranger doctors earlier this week and the whispers say Green Light for Gaulton.

Gaulton on heart alone deserves a Ranger contract and while we do not expect miracles right out of the gate, just his presence on the Otter blueline is going to provide a major boost to the Otters as they make a run at a OHL playoff spot.

(Del Zotto courtesy of the Rangers, DG courtesy of the OHL, Grachev courtesy of the Brampton Battalion)

No comments: