Friday, March 6, 2009

The Del Zotto/Grachev Shot

There are two very good reasons why when we hear The Sather speak about New York Ranger young players that we get very nervous. The first is Michael Del Zotto and the second Evgeny Grachev as every time The Sather says he is not going to move young players we do not trust him because his actions always say otherwise.

A prospect like a Michael Del Zotto is going to need time to develop into a full time Ranger contributor IF he is given a real chance to develop. Yes people can argue that the Rangers should have taken his current teammate John Carlson but the deed is done and Del Zotto is no slouch.

On Thursday, Del Zotto's playmaking skills showed exactly what the Rangers are missing. Del Zotto had 3 assists as his London Knights blew out the Kitchener Rangers 7-1.

And want to know what is even better about all 3 assists? They all came on the power play which as we have been saying is the Del Zotto future for the Rangers as the power play quarterback.

Del Zotto got his night going by setting up John Carlson for the Knight's first goal at 5:14 of the second period. Del Zotto then got a secondary assist on John Tavare's 53rd goal at 14:35 which gave the Knights a 4-1 lead.

Del Zotto then completed the assist hat trick in the 3rd period on Tavare's 54th goal at 15:29 to finish the scoring for the Knights. Del Zotto is now on a 3 game scoring streak (0-5-5) to bring his season numbers to 11-49-60.

Then there is Evgeny Grachev who's 37th goal of the season proved to be the game winner as Grachev's Brampton Battalion whipped the Niagara IceDogs 5-2 to win their fourth straight and move into first place in the OHL's Eastern Conference.

The Godzilla bag of tricks was used once again as this Grachev goal was taking a pass from Thomas Stajan, cutting across the mid slot and using a screen fired a low shot that the Niagara goalie never had a chance on.

Grachev also added an assist as the Ranger's 2008 3rd round pick improved his season's totals to 37-32-69 and back into the Ranger prospect scoring lead by one point over Chris Doyle.

Grachev is also just 2 points away from tying the Brampton single season scoring record by a first year player. With 5 games remaining in the OHL regular season 80 points may be out of the question but 40 goals remains a realistic target for Grachev.

And just for the record, in the 5 years of covering Ranger prospects this is going to be just the first time where we will have 3 Ranger prospects with 60 points or more in the same season. The best in the past was 2 players (Callahan and Dubinsky)


Too late to make it in yesterday's report but Tysen Dowzak and his Kelowna Rockets defeated last season's Memorial Cup champs the Spokane Chiefs 4-1. Dowzak was scoreless but a +1 on the evening.

The Rockets and Chiefs are fighting it out for the 3rd seed in the WHL's Western Conference and with the win, the Rockets pulled within 1 point of the 3rd seed Chiefs. Finishing in 3rd will offers the potential of avoiding the Vancouver Giants until the conference finals.

Speaking of Dowzak, Rocket's announcer Regan Bartel did a min-video interview with Dowzak that he posted to Bartel's blog Regan's Rants. Take a peek.

(Picture credits: Del Zotto/Rangers, Grachev/Brampton)


Ryan McFadden said...

Do you think Grachev plays in Hartford next year?

Way to call him 'The Sather' nice.

Jess Rubenstein said...

The only way I do not see it happening would be a major injury.

Gord Clark likes the kids to dominant for a year before moving them up.

As for The Sather, The Borg was already taken so I needed something