Saturday, May 9, 2009

And Then There was One

It is not the way to end the season, sick with "Flu like" symptoms and forced to miss his second straight gamebut sadly that is how Evgeny Grachev will recall how his first season in North America ended. No more hockey for Grachev this season as his Brampton Battalion lost a heartbreaking overtime 2-1 decision to the Windsor Spitfires and lost the WHL Finals 4 games to 1.

It is a shame to see perhaps the most exciting Ranger prospect in well over a decade end his season with a whimper after taking the Ranger world by storm. The first of two 3rd round picks from the 2008 draft, Grachev just might be power forward that the Rangers have been lacking since Adam Graves in his youth.

There is no shame in the numbers that Grachev put up in both the regular season as well as the OHL playoffs. Going 40-40-80 while winning the OHL Rookie of the Year was enough to give Ranger fans serious hope for the future.

Going 11-14-25 in the playoffs should actually excite Ranger fans even more. Most first year European prospects hit a wall and watch their game fade off in the second half of the season.

Grachev is not most prospects as we discovered; it is scary to see an 80 point scorer be described as needing to work on his consistency but that is what Brampton coach Stan Butler did at the beginning of the OHL playoffs. To Grachev's credit he too acknowledged in his own way that playing in North America was harder than he thought it would be.

That was at the beginning of the playoffs and despite the ending of his season, Grachev showed us his willing to work hard and to do the little things that helps a team win. One fact never changed during the Brampton season and playoffs; when Grachev put up points the Battalion had a better chance at winning.

As for the future; as badly Ranger fans want to see Grachev make the direct jump to the NHL, we want to preach patience. Let Grachev grow into his body, let him work on his game and work on his consistency in Hartford.

In any case, Grachev will be leaving other team feeling sick in the future once he makes it to the Rangers.


Last summer nobody other than Ranger scouts and player personal folks knew who Tysen Dowzak was. Dowzak was an undrafted free agent who earned himself a Ranger contract after his performance at first Traverse City and then Ranger training camp.

Dowzak is also the last remaining player connected with the Rangers who is still playing hockey and on Saturday Dowzak along with his Kelowna Rockets try to win the WHL Championship. Leading the Calgary Hitmen 3-2 in their series but losing the last 2 games badly sets Game 6 up as a very interesting matchup for Saturday night.

If Dowzak and his Rockets remember how they won the first 3 games of this series then a chance to win a championship on home ice becomes realistic. If the Rockets play the undisciplined hockey from Games 4 and 5 then they will have the same bad result.

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