Sunday, January 11, 2009

Reasons To Get An Education

First Star Derek Stepan

OK this is one of those night where we get to scratch our heads and wonder why people think the Ranger prospect pool is so weak. Yes we know losing Cherepanov was a blow but there really is some legit NHL caliber talent among the prospects.

Now he does not have the flash or dash that Alexi Cherepanov had but Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) in his own way just might be a better prospect than Cherepanov ever could have been.

Stepan who plays at Wisconsin had 2 assists as the Badgers earned a weekend sweep over the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. Stepan has been getting better with each passing week is now 5-14-19 in his freshman year.

What impresses us is that Stepan who came to Wisconsin with a rep as a goal scorer is showing that he is more than that. The 14 assists have been a nice present but his defensive play has been much better than anyone expected to the point where Stepan is used as a penalty killer.

Stepan is going to be bigger than Cherepanov, a better skater than Cherepanov and if Stepan keeps playing like this will make people forget about Cherepanov. A freshman who is playing a key role on one of college hockey's most famous schools is no slouch.

And what is even better is that Stepan is just a freshman who is going to get better with each passing year.

Second Star: Carl Hagelin

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th) is another example of serious talent among the Ranger prospects; Hagelin who plays for legendary coach Red Berenson at Michigan is the best 2 way prospect the Rangers have. Even better is that as a 6th round pick this one is a huge steal by the Ranger scouting staff.

Hagelin scored his 6th goal on the season, this one while shorthanded at 19:52 of the first period as Hagelin's Michigan Wolverines whipped 8th ranked Miami of Ohio 5-1. Hagelin showed us a few new wrinkles in this one but they are good wrinkles starting with his willingness to give up his body to make a play (like he did with his goal).

The other was that he is not afraid to mix it up if someone tries to provoke him as was the case in the 3rd period when Hagelin took a roughing call during a scrum. Hagelin is only 5'11 but reminds us in a way of Ryan Callahan as he is willing to do anything that is asked of him in order to help the team win.


The Rest of the Prospect Action

The highlight of Evgeny Grachev's (3008 3rd) evening was 47 seconds into the game as Grachev earned an assist on Brampton's first goal of the game. The remaining 59:13 is a different story as Grachev and his Brampton Battalion dropped the first game of a home and home with the Barrie Colts 5-3.

A very disappointing outing for the Troop as they spent most of the night playing catchup and it cost them. Grachev struggled as his defensive play was not up to his normal standards and it showed with the -2 (and 2 PIMs) that Grachev received.

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) had an assist to give him 4 points in his last 6 WHL games as his Medicine Hat Tigers had little trouble with the Swift Current Broncos winning 5-1. Kundratek is looking for his offense and it is starting to pay off as the Czech Republic defender is now 1-8-9 for the season.

Tysen Dowzak (2008 UFA) scored his 5th assist of the season but his Kelowna Rockets playing with just 15 players lost to the Prince George Cougars 4-3. The Rockets were in part awaiting the word on Swedish prospect Mikael Backlund as well as new players on the WHL trading day deadline.

Give Dowzak some credit for putting in a lot of minutes and doing his best after playing back to back games. That he played well under these conditions is something to remember down the road about his character.

Danny Hobbs (2007 7th) was scoreless as his UMass Minutemen lost in overtime to New Hampshire 3-2. It was a frustrating loss for the Minutemen as they gave up a power play goal in overtime just as the penalty was ending.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) was scoreless but has worked his way up the depth chart back to the first line center position but his Western Michigan Broncos lost to the Ferris State Bulldogs 4-2. Campbell played well and had 4 shots on goal as he has worked his way back after his early season struggles that led to his being a healthy scratch.

Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) and his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies paid a heavy price for ending the Quebec Rempart's 9 game winning streak on Friday as they got blown out 9-0 on Saturday. Lafleur got very little support before getting pulled after giving up 5 goals on 23 shots in about half a game's worth of action (34:31).

Got to fault Lafleur for 3 of the goals but his teammates did next to nothing for example managing just 15 shots for the entire game while both Huskie goalies took a pounding. Lafleur though once again failed to follow up one strong showing with a second.

Greg Beller (2005 6th) has already worked his way up to the first line for the Manitoba Bisons and while he was scoreless his Bisons upset the CIS 3rd ranked Saskatchewan Huskies 4-2 on the road.

And while we hate to end this on a downer but Chris Doyle's (2008 5th) pinched nerve in the back is now being called an injured disc and his absence from the PEI lineup is now being viewed in terms of weeks.

Doyle who was having a great season scoring (21-30-51) as the Ranger Prospect Scoring Leader had been playing hurt for a couple of weeks but finally injured himself to the point where he could no longer play.

(Thanks to Charles Reid of the PEI Guardian for the report)

(Derek Stepan courtesy of the Rangers, Carl Hagelin/Michigan Wolverines)

1 comment:

Amos said...

man i hope doyle can recover soon, he's having a helluva season. maybe he needs some quick recovery tips from mitch gaulton?