It was a day of "G's" for Ranger prospects as the original big news was the addition of Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy but in the end Evgeny Grachev once again was the big news with yet another big game to help his Brampton Battalion to another big win.
Grachev with yet a 3 point game earned 2nd Star of the Game Honors as the Battalion jumped on the Belleville Bulls just 10 seconds into the game and then rolled to a 7-2 win to take a 2-0 series lead. Grachev scored 2 goals and added an assist as the Ranger's 2008 3rd round pick very much fed off the loud and rowdy hometown Brampton fans.
Grachev got his night going right on the opening draw, Grachev got the puck to teammate Cody Hodgson who fired a shot then slammed his own rebound in for a 1-0 lead just 10 seconds into the game. The Battalion then scored 32 seconds later to make it 2-0 and the rout was on.
With Brampton already up 4-2, Grachev scored the 1st of his 2 goals at 6:36 of the second period when he converted a Cody Hodgson pass from the deep slot for his 8th goal of the playoffs. Grachev then finished the night for the Battalion with an unassisted goal in the 3rd period which wrapped up the scoring for the game.
The second goal of the game was Grachev's 9th which ties him with Matt Duchene for the team lead as well as extending his scoring streak to 5 straight games (4-5-9). Not to mention that Grachev at 9-10-19 in 12 games is 6th overall in career playoff scoring for the Battalion.
Michael Del Zotto, it seems wants the Ranger world to know that just because the Rangers signed Gilroy that he is not just going to be pushed aside. Del Zotto had 3 assists as his London Knights came back twice from being down 2 goals to win in overtime 6-5 over the Windsor Spitfires to even their series at 1-1.
Del Zotto actually had a rough start to this game as he took a high sticking minor at 3:33 of the first which Windsor took advantage of to score on that power play for a 1-0 lead at 4:51. Windsor then added another goal in the first before Del Zotto set up his defensive partner John Carlson for a London power play goal at 12:33 of the first period to cut the Windsor lead to 2-1.
Late in the second period with Windsor up 5-3, Del Zotto got his second assist of the night when he and Nazem Kadri teamed to feed John Tavares to bring London within a goal at 5-4. In the 3rd period, Del Zotto and Carlson teamed to feed Tavares again this time to set up the tying goal which led to the overtime win for the Knights.
For Del Zotto, it was his 3rd game during this year's playoffs with 3 points. The 3 assists brought his playoff point totals to 2-16-18 but while everyone else is getting all the raves and applause there are a couple of things that we really would like to point out to Ranger fans.
First with the 3 assists, Del Zotto is second overall in the OHL in playoff assists; Del Zotto also is 12th in playoff scoring and 3rd among OHL defensemen. Del Zotto has points in 10 out of 11 playoff games and an 8 game scoring streak.
Got to admit that Ranger fans at times really make us wonder about them as the reaction to the signing of 2009 Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy is in all honesty weak. All of a sudden there are Ranger fans who are complaining about a contract that is not a bad deal in the overall scheme of things.
Unlike in the cases of most recent UFAs that the Rangers were after, Gilroy had no less than 6 other NHL teams was more than willing to do. Gilroy fell under bidding for him Because of his original draft age then Gilroy fell under the previous CBA when there was no cap for his first contract.
In case people are not sure, a one way deal does not mean that the Rangers can not send Gilroy to Hartford; it just means that even at Hartford Gilroy will get paid his full salary not the AHL version. His salary does not count against the NHL cap until Gilroy is placed on the Ranger roster.
At a reported 3.75 million for 2 years then this is a bargain when you look at the possibilities that this move does for the Rangers. With Gilroy heading to Hartford now then the Rangers can get a good look NOW at seeing where he is in terms of development.
If Gilroy appears very close to being NHL ready then the Rangers will have options for the blueline next season at a very reasonable price. If ready then there is no need to resign Morris, some cap flexibility if they want to dump Redden with his contract and then no need to try to force feed Bobby Sanguinetti or Michael Del Zotto to the NHL before they are ready.
Del Zotto can spend another year in the OHL improving his defense while Sanguinetti can do the same in Hartford. For a change the Rangers will have actual options with the kids and none of them bad.
Gilroy played for Jack Parker at Boston University and helped lead them to the NCAA Championships, this is no slouch of a player and everything that Gilroy did was earned. Ranger fans want hard working players so why the dislike for a player who has busted his butt to get what he has gotten?
If Gilroy turns out to be a bust then it is just 3.75 million which is less than what Redden makes in a season and at 2 years Gilroy will be gone before you realize he was a bust.
If Gilroy just so happens to make it as a serviceable NHL defender then the Rangers get a major steal. Gilroy in today's world would be late first to early second round draft pick that the Rangers did not have to use to get.
Gilroy's signing also just about seals that the Rangers will use their 2009 first round pick on a forward. As one looks at the possibilities for the 09 draft currently the Rangers will pick no worse than 19th which is right where we think our current first choice Carter Ashton of Lethbridge (6'2 195 LW and son of former NHLer Brent Ashton) will fall to.
Give the Ranger staff some credit here as this is a no lose move for the Rangers and given the recent bad moves the pro side of the Rangers have made, this is a gamble well worth taking.
(Grachev courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images, Del Zotto courtesy of Stu Switzer, Gilroy courtesy of Hockey East/Boston University)
2 hours ago