Monday, August 24, 2009

Going Camping

The Tuesday report leads off with the the news that the Rangers posted their official roster for the Traverse City Prospect Tournament on their website. It is a good mix of drafted players, free agents and those who on tryout basis.

Those who are trying to earn a contract need at this camp know that the Rangers have never been shy about offering contracts to undrafted free agents as Tysen Dowzak proved last year. That will be encouraging news to the 4 free agents who are trying to earn a contract from the Rangers.

Daniel Bartek is a 6'2 200 lb center who spent last season with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. Nick Patterson who covers the Silvertips for the HeraldNet described Bartek as a good mix of size, hustle and skill who would make an good checking forward.

What we liked about Bartek is that he plays hurt as last season he played with a broken hand when he was supposed to be out for the season. Bartek is a long shot to stick with the Rangers but to his credit already has a scholarship to play for Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

Luke Walker is someone we are rooting for as the Portland Winterhawk (WHL) is a hard working forward who is coming of a career high 29 goals last season.

Andy Kemper the voice of the Portland Winterhawks gave us this scouting report last week: Walker is a good skater who uses his speed well...drives hard down the wing and to the net. Above average wrist shot but scores more goals from in tight around the net. A slight body build doesn't stop him from playing physical or winning battles in the corners.

Walker we think is going to have a 40 goal season for the Winterhawks and we believe the combination of size (6'2 185) and skill makes him the best shot to earn a contract out of Traverse City.

Luke Pither is another we know quite well as the 20 year old forward is coming off a 35-37-72 season splitting time between Guelph and Belleville of the OHL. Pither is a late bloomer entering his overage season this year with the Barrie Colts.

Last season Pither went 6-13-19 in 17 playoff games for Belleville as the 6' 200 lb forward is a strong skater with good work ethic. Pither has worked hard at improving his body adding muscle to the upper body.

Our concern is whether he is strong enough to play at the next level and we have to consider Pither as a long shot to make it to the Ranger training camp.

If any of the tryout prospects are going to impress John Tortorella then Craig Cunningham of the Vancouver Giants is at the top of the list. Last week Cunningham finished 3rd in the Vancouver Giants annual Grouse Grind.

In case you missed it; the Grind is a 1.8 mile run that goes up Grouse Mountain (2880 ft) that is well known challenging work out. That Cunningham finished 3rd says a lot about his conditioning.

Cunningham is also a scorer as he scored 28 goals last season for the Giants one of the top teams in the WHL. Cunningham is a 5'9 175 winger who is sound defensively but when 7 of your 28 goals are game winners you get some attention.

Cunningham is someone who knows he has to work hard than the next guy because of his size so he does. His skating needs work but he is going to make sure that people will notice his efforts.

Other News

We talked over the weekend with one of favorite reporter Victor Fernandes of the Erie Times-News about 2008 6th round pick Mitch "Smiley" Gaulton. Victor writes the Shootout blog while covering the Erie Otter of the OHL and he had some interesting things to say about Gaulton.

Last season Gaulton despite one heck of a comeback after Tommy John surgery found himself in Erie coach Robbie Ftorek's doghouse because of his conditioning. Gaulton found himself dressed but not playing in games as Ftorek went with 4 defensemen.

According to Victor conditioning is not going to be a problem for Gaulton as the defender has dropped from 231 to his current weight of 195 (10 lbs less than his weight before his TJ surgery). Gaulton first worked out with a trainer back home and then attended a conditioning camp run by Brian O'Reilly, father of Otters center Ryan O'Reilly with 9 other Otter players.

Still more from Victor who says that Otter GM Sherry Bassin told him that "if Mitch focuses on being the best he can be, he could be the team's best defenseman." It will be interesting to watch Gaulton at Traverse City as he could be the surprise of the camp now that he is finally healthy and ready to go.

When we asked Victor what kind of player Gaulton could be the response was as an offensive defenseman which fits in with the scouting reports on Gaulton prior to all his injuries.

Gaulton takes to the ice on Thursday at the Otter training camp so we look forward to Victor's report on him.

(Bartek courtesy of the Everett Silvertips, Walker: Portland Winterhawks, Pither:OHL, Cunningham: Vancouver Giants, Gaulton: Mark Bell/Erie Otters)


Amos said...

i'd love to see gaulton play his game and earn a contract this year... i don't think it's out of the question given how hard he's worked to come back from a serious injury. thanks jess!

Amos said...

jess - who do you think has the inside edge of earning a FA contract out of traverse city? it's probably hard to answer, but based on the organization's needs, who would fit the mold the rangers are trying to develop? i'm thinking luke skywalker or craig cunningham, although in cunningham's case, i would think that having borque in the system may eliminate the need for a small bodied scorer. thoughts?

Amos said...

upon further examination, you've already answered my last question. nevermind!

Lee said...

Hey Jess - this was news to me and likely news to you given the recent posting re he and Gaulton as unsigned draft-class-mates
"Doyle signed a three-year entry level deal with the New York Rangers earlier this summer. "

Jess Rubenstein said...


I am checking to see if the entry is true. I never saw a PR on the signing and I do not see it anywhere on the Rangers or Wolfpack website

Kovy274Hart said...

Hey Jess,

Heard you had knee surgery. Hope you're holding up well.

I'm doing a show tonight on Blogtalk from 10-12. Would you be interested in calling in to talk prospects about the Traverse Tournament?

Just give me a holler back over at my email:

hope all is well!


P.S. Wassel will likely be on.

Jess Rubenstein said...


I checked with the Rangers and Doyle is not under contract to them. If he can stay healthy and plays like he did in the first half of the season then he will get that contract