Friday, August 14, 2009

Getting to Know the Future

Getting back to our look at the newest New York Ranger prospects we turn our attention to Sam Klassen a free agent defenseman who the Rangers signed to a contract in July. Klassen a 6'2 200 lb defender is joining the Rangers from the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

We know Klassen pretty well due to covering other Ranger prospects who play in the WHL and think this is a free agent signing that just might pan out. Klassen is a sturdy stay at home defenseman who played several roles for the Blades over the last 3 seasons but in our eyes his best role was being the steady influence on the ice.

There is no flash to Klassen's game, you will not see end to end rushes or fancy plays from him. What you will see is someone who will make the quiet defensive plays that teams need to win.

Klassen like to hit, he does not go out of his way to fight but will do so and when he does can handle himself quite well. On the offensive side it is a bit underrated as the Blades needed him more for his defense because they had a couple of very good offensive minded defensemen already in the lineup.

Klassen last season was 2-18-20 +27 with 92 PIMs in 72 games. What we noticed abut Klassen is that despite playing a physical game that he does not miss games having missed just 1 game in the last 2 seasons.

For his size Klassen is hard to get off his feet, he has a very solid upper body which allows him to use his strength to good advantage. His vision is not bad and while he does not skate badly we would like to see him work on his lateral movement as he can struggle there at times.

We also want to see Klassen shoot the puck more and gain more confidence in that shot. Klassen does think defense first which we always like but sometimes he is too defensive minded and might give up on a play too soon.

We got some film to share on Klassen so let us start with this one where Klassen just wipes out someone with a very clean hip check:

Then we have a couple of fights to show as we want to show the Klassen is rather strong for his size and is hard to take off his feet:

First against Brayden Schenn who went 5th in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft:

Then against as part of a line brawl here:

Klassen is 20 and is eligible to return to the Blades for an overage year but we believe that his work ethic is going to earn him a regular spot in the Hartford rotation. We can project him to be a depth defender but given both his work ethic and ability to remain healthy that he is a welcome addition.


In other prospect news, Russia defeated Team USA 6-4 in game 3 of their exhibition series at Lake Placid, NY. Derek Stepan continued his solid play with 2 more assists to bring his 3 game totals to 6 assists.

Chris Kreider was scoreless and took a tripping minor while Ryan Bourque was given the night off. The final game of this series will be on Saturday evening.


2009 5th round pick goalie Scott Stajcer got the message that the Owen Sound Attack (OHL) expect him to be their starter after the Attack sent Tyler Beskorowany to Kingston in a trade. Last season Stajcer and Beskorowany split the goalie job for the Attack for most of the season until Stajcer took control at the end of the season.

Stajcer is coming off a 15-15-5 3.97 .906 season for the Attack and it will be interesting to see how he handles the starting job. The Attack have been rebuilding the last couple of years so we think this is a good move by the Attack to show Stajcer right from the start how much confidence they have in him.

Stajcer is expected to attend the Traverse City Tournament next month as well.

(Klassen courtesy of the Saskatoon Blades(WHL), Stajcer courtesy of the Owen Sound Attack (OHL))

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