Saturday, August 8, 2009

Getting to Know The Future

Judging from the way many of you have been acting as of late; the majority of you like us here have been going crazy over the lack of hockey. No doubt when the New York Rangers make an early exit (or do not even make) from the playoffs then the off-season feels like it will never end.

Well good news Ranger fans as the clock is now ticking and it under a month before the Ranger prospects will be gathering to play in Traverse City as part of the annual prospect tournament there. Circle September 6th on your calendar as that is when the Baby Rangers will face off with the Baby Hurricanes.

The Traverse City format is 3 games against 3 other teams in your conference to determine whether or not the Baby Rangers will play in the tournament championship on September 10th. From there then for most it will be a trip to the Ranger's main training camp which will open this season on September 12th.

With the message being sent from John Tortorella about how Ranger players and prospects had best show up for camp ready to work hard then we thought now was a great time to introduce you to a player whom Tortorella will not need to worry about working hard.

We are talking about 2009 2nd round pick Ethan Werek. Werek is a 6'2 200 lb center who comes to the Rangers via the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL where he is coached by former NHL All-Star Doug Gilmour.

We actually like Werek more than we do first round pick Chris Kreider because of his excellent work ethic. Werek is going to come at you full steam on every shift and then come at you even harder on the next one. Werek is coming off a 32-32-64 rookie season in the OHL and we see some very good things coming from him in the future.

Ranger fans are going to love Werek because he is a blue collar worker with top level offensive skills. He can score goals with both power as well as finesse and even better Werek is not afraid to pay a price to make a play.

You will love his grit, his willingness to go into the crease and out fight players for the puck. Toss in that he is being coached by a former NHLer known for his own hard work and you get a prospect who will make noise as a Ranger.

Currently a center; we project Werek out on the wing when he makes it to the Rangers in the next 2-3 years because he is going to be a pure power forward. We really like how Werek can read what is happening on the ice and almost know exactly where the best options for plays are.

Those reaction skills off set perhaps Werek's only weak area which is his overall skating speed. We would like to see Werek improve his first step as well as his stride as if he does it will greatly enhance his skating skills.

We are also not too concerned about Werek's skating because we have seen it with most prospects and his weak areas are very correctable. Werek reminds us of Dubinsky after his rookie season with the Winterhawks; he struggled with his skating but with hard work greatly improved over time.

Werek plays a decent defense but again we know that too will improve over time as he learns the game. At 18 going on 19, it is typical for a prospect to try to do too much on the ice so as Werek matures we will see improvements in many areas that will come naturally.

We project him out at 6'3 215 as a power forward on the second line. Werek is going to catch a lot of people off guard because for a bigger prospect his passing skills are above average. It just might be a lot of fun to see with a Ryan Bourque as those 2 could become a lethal combination.

For the 2009-10 season we would like to see Werek not worry about a huge jump in his offensive numbers as 32-32-64 is not bad to have as it is. Instead for us it is more important to see Werek take on a leadership role for the Frontenacs as they rebuild.

A repeat of his numbers next season would not be bad if we see maturity come from Werek on and off the ice. Too often prospects try way to hard to justify their draft status so we would rather that Werek not worry at all about it and just concentrate on improving the Frontenacs.

Our logic is that the numbers will take care of themselves but getting the Frontenacs back to the OHL playoffs does more to help Werek's development than mere numbers. Playing in meaningful games is more important than Werek scoring 20 more goals next season.

We have seen from experience that prospects who go deeper into a playoff situation tend to speed up their own development as well as get used to playing on winning teams. If Werek does that then it helps everyone from the Frontenacs to the Rangers and Werek himself.

In part of becoming a team leader for the Frontenacs also means that Werek should try to cut his PIMs down by about 30 next season. A lesson we are sure Gilmour will teach him is that Werek can not score or help the team if he is sitting in the penalty box.

If Werek learns that lesson then both he and the Frontenacs will have a pretty good season.

We will have more on Werek as the season moves on.


I have to admit I am not a huge fan of internet radio but appearing on RangerCrisis Radio was a blast and I really look forward to doing this again. I would like to thank "The Mouth" for inviting me on as well as his friend "ManDar" (sorry do not know how to spell his name) for a great time.

If you missed it then "Mouth" has it available for your listening pleasure right here. But you really got to catch the next show as one of my favorites on the web as well as facebook former Ranger Chris Kotsopoulos is supposed to be on next week.

Kotsopoulos writes the entertaining Kotsy's Korner and offers an insight that few bloggers can given his experience.


The plans here from now until Traverse City are simple as since the Rangers we do not expect to post a roster until the last minute then what we will do here is talk about players who we expect to attend.

You guys are not the only ones who are tired of this off-season but good news is that in addition to the National Evaluation camps going on, CHL training camps are less than 2 weeks away.

Are you ready for some hockey?

(Werek pic courtesy of the OHL/Kingston Frontenacs)

1 comment:

Amos said...

listened to the ranger crisis thing today, good stuff. that must have been hilarious listening to him for 2 hours... don't know how you managed! keep the prospect info coming man you do a great job.