Saturday, September 5, 2009

And It Begins

And so the 2009-10 New York Ranger year begins at 9:30 AM on Sunday when the Traverse City roster hits the ice for a practice prior to facing the Carolina Hurricane prospects at 3 PM. This group of prospects is one of the most talented that the Rangers have had in years and it is not including 4 of the best prospects who are attending college.

For the Rangers, Traverse City provides a great opportunity for the prospects to show the coaching staff how well they worked on the things that they were asked to over the summer. Winning the tournament is a nice bonus but the real goal is to get a good look at the kids to judge how far they have come.

For both Rangers and prospects, Traverse City is a great teaching tool because you will have a nice mix of prospects at various stages of their development. One thing the tournament is going to do is give the prospects a real taste of the faster speeds that they will see hockey played in while in a teaching environment.

Traverse City allows the prospects to go against their peers rather than fight for ice time at the training camp with the veterans. For those who are just joining the Ranger pipeline it is also a chance to develop and build chemistry with their (hopefully) future teammates.

Still when you look at the Traverse City roster it is hard not to get excited at those who will one day be Ranger regulars. After almost a decade of nothing in the pipeline the Rangers have finally restocked it with but quality and quantity.

So even though watching the games at Traverse City is not going to happen there are some names for Ranger fans to write down as those we believe they should watch. It is easy to say Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev but these are prospects who Ranger fans will really enjoy watching in the next couple of years.

Scott Stajcer- Of the 2 new goalies in the Ranger system we believe Stajcer has the better pro potential than Chad Johnson. Nothing against Johnson but Stajcer has faced a higher quality of prospects at a younger age and is going to get much better.

Stajcer playing in the OHL last season went up against 7 of the 2009 first round picks along with Del Zotto and Grachev and held his own. You will be hearing a lot about Stajcer this season.

Ethan Werek- Werek went up against the same players that Stajcer did and also held his own. Werek at Traverse City should be the first line center and we want to see him playing with Grachev and Bourque.

Roman Horak- few people knew much about Horak when he was drafted but he has made a very good impression in a hurry with the WHL Chilliwack Bruins.

There were some questions about Horak's efforts away from the puck but so far Horak has shown a responsible effort as he adjusts to life in North America. It is going to be interesting to see Horak play with guys who can finish plays as this is a very talented playmaker who will dazzle Ranger fans with his moves.

It will be interesting to see how Horak responds to a step up in class when he plays in Traverse City but we think he will do quite well.

In addition to the Baby Canes, the Rangers also have games against prospects of the Thrashers and Red Wings and depending on how they do in these 3 games one game against prospects of a "Western Conference" team (Bluejackets, Wild, Blues and Stars) on the final day of the Tournament.

We believe the Rangers will bring 16 of the Traverse City roster to the main camp which starts next Saturday but we also expect to see John Tortorella make cuts to the main camp roster within the first week to a more manageable number of about 30.

Let the fun begin.


Thanks to regular reader Lee who noticed that Chris Doyle was not listed on the Traverse City roster. We did some checking and the decision not to include Doyle on the TC roster was not made by the Rangers but rather Doyle's own doctors.

Last season Doyle suffered a serious back disc injury which ruined his season and while Doyle is playing now; his doctors felt that Doyle had not recovered enough to play against NHL caliber players.


Due to my recent knee surgery I get to miss Traverse City but more disappointing was the NHL Network's decision not to offer coverage of the Traverse City prospect tournament. The best suggestion we have as to where to get information about how well the Ranger prospects do in our eyes will be the good folks over at

We would like for Ranger fans to show the NHL Network how much they appreciate the decision to show the 2003 Classic Series between the Lightning and Capitals by dropping them a line via this link. Please pass the word and show your "love" for the network that claims to offer the best coverage of everything NHL.

It is sad that the NHL keeps going backwards instead of looking for more ways to improve their relationship with hockey fans everywhere. Traverse City is where many a NHL player got their start and the decision not to provide coverage is another example of the narrow vision the NHL has about building the game.

(Werek and Bourque courtesy of Aaron Bell, Stajcer courtesy of the Owen Sound Attack, Horak courtesy of the Chilliwack Bruins)


Amos said...

Here's my email:

The NHL Network's decision to not cover the Traverse City Prospect Tournament when they did cover it last year makes no sense. Honestly, do you think NHL fans want to watch the same "classic" series from 2003 from teams that didn't even make it to the Stanley Cup Finals as opposed to being able to watch REAL LIVE hockey for the first time since a brutally long offseason? After covering the tournament last year, I thought things were changing in a positive direction, and that the NHL was more in tune with what REAL hockey fans want. Instead, I find that we are unable to watch prospects that will one day patrol the ice in big league arenas just so we get to see the 1000th airing of a 2003 quarterfinal matchup between Minnesota and Colorado. Thanks for thinking about the fans, NHL Network, then doing the opposite of what would make them happy.

Thanks for the suggestion Jess!

Anonymous said...

Great Preview, Jess. I am so excited for this tournament. I am expecting a lot out of this group of kids, the talent level on this year's team is amazing. Hopefully we can repeat a tournament championship from a few years back!

Lee said...

am I being too (...whatever) if I think that including a player w 50 NHL games at TC is outside the spirit of the event? (ie Brandon Sutter). Curious what Jess and others think, thanks

Jess Rubenstein said...

No Lee I too was wondering what the heck Sutter was doing playing at TC for the Canes today.

IMO once you play at least 41 NHL games then you have no business being at TC.

Amos said...

personally i think brandon sutter is a POS for the hit that he put on alexei cherepanov. that hit in my eyes is something that you should be taken out of hockey for. when sutter got steamrolled last year with his head down reaching for the puck, it was the week that alexei cherepanov had died, and maybe i was the only one that thought of it this way, but that hit was cherepanov's first act upon getting to heaven. but yeah, he has no business being in TC.