Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ask and We Received

If there is one thing that we really have enjoyed about covering New York Ranger prospects this season then it has to be that just about every time we asked to see something from Ranger prospects they delivered.

On Sunday it was once again Chris Doyle and Evgeny Grachev who responded to our "questions" about what could they do. When we talk about reasons to get excited about the Ranger's future then here are 2 good ones.

Today's Star Chris Doyle

Last week we wrote about how Chris Doyle was doing different things right and how we were wanting to see Doyle put all of them together in a complete game. Sunday Doyle did just that and gave us a reason to have some hope for the New York Ranger's 2008 5th round pick.

In his 2008 regular season finale, Doyle had a goal, an assist, 8 shots, went 2-0 on faceoffs and registered 2 hits as his Prince Edward Island Rocket finished off their regular season with a 5-2 over the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Doyle got his night going by helping to set up teammate Jarrad Struther's power play goal with just 2 seconds remaining in the first period to give PEI a 2-1 lead after 1 period. Doyle then added his 30th goal of the season at 16:35 of the 3rd period to give the Rocket a 5-2 lead and Doyle the game's second star.

Doyle gets to finish his regular season with career highs in goals, assists and points as the young man from Charlottetown PEI was 30-42-72 on the season. The question now is can Doyle carry this over to the QMJHL playoffs as his Rockets will be huge underdogs against the Moncton Wildcats.

In this game, Traverse City Invitee David Stich played for the Sea Dogs in this game and finished his season with a 10-17-27 with 33 PIMs and a -11. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers bring him to Hartford for an ATO once his QMJHL season ends.

Stich has size and skill and is a puck moving defender, Stich came over to North America as a very blueliner who never lived up to his potential. At 6'2 and with a willingness to play a physical game, he might be worth a second look.

Second Star Evgeny Grachev

It is only fitting that the prospect we have nicknamed Godzilla teach us one more lesson about him in the Brampton Battalion season finale.

That lesson is that no game is meaningless to him as Grachev scored 3 assists as the Brampton Battalion head to the OHL playoffs with a 5-4 shootout win over the Oshawa Generals that knocked out the Generals from the OHL playoffs.

On paper they were just secondary assists but each was key for the Battalion having a chance to win this game. None more important than teaming with Matt Duchene for the game tying goal at 19:09 of the 3rd period.

Since people are excited about Grachev then we will give you an idea as to what Grachev did this season

Grachev led OHL rookies in scoring at 40-40-80
4th in plus/minus at a +48,
5th overall in goals scored with 40,
6th in shorthanded goals with 4,
11th in game winning with 6,
set a new Brampton rookie scoring records in both goals (40) and points (80).

Now let us see what he does for Brampton in the OHL playoffs as the Battalion have been knocked out in the first round in 3 out of the last 4 seasons.


The Rest of the Prospects

Danny Hobbs was a healthy scratch to watch as his season came to a disappointing end in the Hockey East Playoffs as his UMass Minutemen gave 4th ranked Northeastern everything they had but finally fell in overtime 3-2 in game 3 of their series. It was one of the best first round series we have witnessed in years despite the disappointing outcome.

For Hobbs, his freshmen season at UMass was a major disappointment with Hobbs only appearing in 24 games (out of a possible 39) and a stat line of 1-1-2, -2 20 PIMs. Quite honestly we expected much more out of Hobbs and this is a prospect who saw his stock drop big time.

Antonie Lafleur was the backup for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in their game against the Gatineau Olympiques as the Huskies closed their QMJHL regular season with a bad 4-2 loss. When the QMJHL playoffs open, it going to be a surprise for us if Lafleur is not in net.

We want to see Lafleur get the nod and finally show us why he deserves a Ranger contract. Steal a series or two for the Huskies and end his QMJHL career on a positive note. Nobody wants to see a second round pick fail but if Lafleur can not pick this time to show the badly missing consistency then one has to wonder when he ever will.

Lafleur finishes his final season in the QMJHL with a 13-14 record on a 3.40 goals against and 0.870 save percentage. The one thing that Lafleur has never done in his QMJHL career is win a playoff series and this will be his last chance.

Mitch Gaulton was dressed but whether he got off the bench tonight for the Erie Otters is a totally different story. Gaulton's Otters ended their 2008-09 season on a positive note by defeating the Guelph Storm 4-1.

For the Otters who are headed to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 playoffs, the bad news is that they are going to face Michael Del Zotto and the London Knights with all their offense. Good Luck Otters.

(Pictures: Chris Doyle/PEI Rocket, Evgeny Grachev/Brampton)

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