Each prospect is given a battery of tests from physical to mental, a chance to meet one on one with the Ranger coaching staff and chances to learn new ways to work on their game/weight room. It is a program that since the Rangers have started has greatly helped prospects get a head start on learning the Ranger system.
There is a side benefit that most Ranger fans do not know about but in our eyes is perhaps the best benefit of them all; the prospects become friends with each other. It is an area that can not be overlooked as prospects becoming friends on and off the ice is a dividend that creates a loyalty to the team but more importantly to each other.
We know from past experience that the prospects becoming friends does wonders for their development. It gives them someone who they can talk to during the season about the future and offer encouragement or support when needed.
Having a peer who you can text, pick up the phone or hang out with does wonders when it comes to building a chemistry. You can find a workout buddy during the off-season and as time goes on that one Ranger friend can grow to an entire team.
As for the development camp itself, the first thing that needs to be pointed out is that Max Campbell (2007 5th) for the 2nd year in a row is paying his own way to attend. It deserves being pointed out because it says a lot about Campbell's desire to become a Ranger.
The NCAA bans the Rangers from paying the way of prospects to attend camps like these and while most still do not view Campbell as a legit NHL prospect we do because of how badly he is willing to work on becoming a Ranger. Campbell is a natural goal scorer who we have watched despite his smallish frame park his body in the crease and fight his way to score.
We saw Derek Stepan's name on the list and if he attends then it would be very interesting to see him paired up with Chris Kreider as Stepan until this past weekend was perhap the fastest skating prospect in the system. We would put Ethan Werek on the same line as Stepan and Kreider just to give them someone who will be the sheriff on the line.
As for those attending, beside the draft picks and already signed prospects will be a few free agents hoping to earn a chance at being brought back for Traverse City. We know 6 of these free agents so here is what we do know.
Travis Yonkman played goal for Swift Current in the WHL as an overager. He is not a flashy guy but you will like how he never quits on a play. A short 6'1 he is a solid pressure game goalie that you want in the net for the big games.
Spent his entire career with Swift Current and was a teammate of 2008 4th round pick Dale Weise. His best strength is his speed as just when you think he is out of position he finds a way to make the save.
May not have gotten the notice he deserved for his efforts because of more higher profile goalies in the WHL but would make a good depth signing for Charlotte.
Sam Klassen is a character role player who played for the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL. A 6'1 defenseman who as a pro we would have to say is more than likely to be a 5th-6th defenseman than a star.
Good skater, a stay at home defender who can chip in the occasional assist, very willing to fight to protect his teammates, does not miss games, has a good hockey sense but his hands are not fast enough to make that breakout pass from the zone at the higher level.
Given the glut of defensemen in front of him it is going to be very hard for Klassen to earn a second invite back for Traverse City.
Craig Cunningham is an interesting invite as the Vancouver Giant LW is coming off a pretty solid season and we got to see a lot of him. Not the best of anything but his work ethic makes up for his lack of size, skill and speed.
Just 5'9 but built a bit like a fire hyrant, Cunningham had a great start to the 2009 playoffs but tailed off like his Giant team against Kelowna. What gets our attention is his ability to score game winning goals as 7 of his 28 were game winners.
Struggled down the stretch as it looked as if he ran out of gas which is always a concern for a shorter player but is a good system player. We think his work ethic might earn him a second invite to TC.
On the other hand Chris Chappell is 6'4 215 and coming off an overage year where he put up 38-38-76 for Saginaw in the OHL. We remember him as being one of Tomas Zaborsky's body guards a couple of years ago.
The numbers are nice but Chappell is a project player, he needs help with his skate, his general hockey sense and his defense. He might be more enforcer than scorer as a pro.
However his size makes him worth taking a look at because he takes up a lot of space on the ice and is willing to take a beating to make a play. A lot of "IFs" with his game but might be worth it to bring to Charlotte and see what happens.
Luke Pither is one that we think is more of those one season wonders as he had a total of 35 goals between Guelph and Belleville in the OHL last season as an overager. In previous seasons he did not do much for Guelph or Kingston so we are not expecting a whole lot from him.
Against Evgeny Grachev and Brampton during the OHL playoffs we have to be honest other than a goal in game 2 of that series (we recall it because he was a -3) that we really did not notice much of Pither.
At 6' 190 we just do not see him as a serious prospect for a second invite but as with all prospects we will hope he proves us to be wrong.
We at Prospect Park want to extend to former Ranger prospect Hugh Jessiman our deepest sympathies on the passing of his mother Laura Woodbury Jessiman.
Mrs Jessiman was seriously injured in a fall in Scotland and passed away after being airlifted to a local hospital.
Say whatever you want about Jessiman not making it as a Ranger prospect but one thing we have always respected about Jessiman is that he took a ton of abuse from Ranger fans and never once complained about it. One week after losing his mother; Hugh is going to be on the ice trying to raise money for the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation which makes financial assistance grants to Connecticut residents living with spinal cord injuries and disease.
Come on Wednesday and if you want to support a worthy cause then help support Hugh during a rough time by attending the "Big Assist" at the Darien Ice Rink. For more information check out the Darien Ice Rink.
(Yonkman, Klassen, Cunningham courtesy of the WHL, Pither and Chappell courtesy of the OHL, Laura Jessiman courtesy of the Darien Times)