Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Party Crashers

Give the New York Rangers and their scouting staff some serious credit as the players who they invited to attend Traverse City were not just bodies but legit players. In fact 2 of the 3 who did not get contracts took our stars tonight.

First Star

Friendly advice to the Rangers, do not wait too long before promising Luke Pither a shot at Hartford once his season with the Barrie Colts ends. Two games into his OHL season and Pither has 7 goals and 2 game winners.

Pither's hat trick goal came on the power play at 2:18 of overtime gave his Barrie Colts a 5-4 win over the Niagara Ice Dogs to improve to 2-0 on the season. In fact all 3 of Pither's goals were on the power play which is yet another reason why the Rangers to keep close tabs on him as that gives him 6 power play goals already.

Pither is coming off a career high 35 goals last season but at this rate he will pass 35 with ease. Pither is someone to keep an eye on.

Second Star

Write this down people; the Portland Winterhawks are going to be Junior Hockey's most improved team this year. They may not win a Memorial Cup championship but they are no longer anyone's whipping boy.

Why you ask is because in large part to Luke Walker who earned the game's third star Luke Walker who's 2 assists helped to send the Winterhawks to a 5-0 shutout over the Seattle Thunderbirds. Walker looks like he is going to be an fully rounded player this year instead of just a goal scorer.

Walker got his season started by setting up teammate Chris Francis for a shorthanded goal with 32 second remaining in the first period to give the Winterhawks a 2-0 lead. In the 3rd period, it was Walker who set up Spencer Bennett's first career WHL goal to finish up the scoring for the Winterhawks.

Walker led the Ranger prospects in scoring at Traverse City 3-2-5 is coming off a 28 goal season on a bad Winterhawk team last season, this year with some help we are looking at Walker to put up 70 points as one of the Winterhawk leaders.

The Rest of the Prospects

Ryan Bourque was held in check by the Chicoutimi Saguenéens who kept the 2009 3rd round pick scoreless and limited to just 2 shots. It did not stop Bourque's Quebec Remparts from earning their 3rd win of the young season 5-4 in the shoot out.

Roman Horak earned his first WHL career point with an assist but it was not enough to prevent his Chilliwack Bruins from dropping their 2nd straight this time to the Kamloops Blazers 4-2. Horak the Ranger's 2009 5th round pick earned a primary assist on the Bruin's first goal in the 2nd period.

Daniel Maggio (2009 6th) had an assist on the Sudbury Wolves's only goal of the game but Sudbury lost to the Ottawa 67's 3-1 to fall to 0-2 on the season. Maggio looks really stronger this year after losing most of last season to a knee injury.

Mitch Gaulton (2008 6th) scored his first goal of the season but his Erie Otters fell in the shootout to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-3. Our good friend Victor Fernandes over at has the game report check him out.

Scott Stajcer (2009 5th) gave up 3 goals (2 were power play goals) in the second period and it cost him as his Owen Sound Attack lost to the Saginaw Spirit 3-2. Overall Stajcer stopped 28 of the 31 shots his faced in his season debut.

Craig Cunningham (Traverse City 2009) scored his 2nd goal of the season (power play 8:11 1st) but his Vancouver Giants blew a 2-0 lead and lost 4-2 to the Everett Silvertips. According to Steve Ewen the Giants prior to this game were 122-1-2-5 with the lead entering the 3rd period.


More Cuts

Really if you look at the 5 players who were sent to Hartford none should come as a shock to anyone. Chad Johnson, Matt Zaba, Ilkka Heikkinen, Corey Potter, and Paul Crowder were expected moves given their status with the team.

Johnson and Zaba need to play as much as possible at Hartford but write this down whichever one of these 2 has the better season they will replace Stephen Valiquette as the Ranger backup goalie next season (we say Senor Nueve Seis). Heikkinen despite his confidence is discovering that playing in North America is harder than he thinks.

Paul Crowder is adjusting to playing professional hockey and is still developing his game. Corey Potter as we have expected is this season's Greg Moore as being the Hartford yo-yo the previous season messes with your head and sadly we see this as the beginning of the end for Potter with the Rangers.

But now we are going to see whether the Rangers "walk their talk" with the remaining cuts. Artem Anisimov (thanks for finally waking up AA), and Pierre Parenteau in our book have earned roster spots so that leaves Evgeney Grachev, Brian Boyle and Aaron Voros for the 13th forward.

Now this is going to be very unpopular so we hope you read the logic behind our thinking first before trashing us. We send Grachev to Hartford not because Voros has outworked him but because if we are going to carry someone just to sit in the press box then we would rather see Grachev playing 1st line minutes in Hartford.

Neither Voros or Boyle are important to the Ranger's future but Grachev is very important; get him as much playing time as he can get in Hartford. Grachev will be called up before this season is over and when they do they will need him to play Top 6 forward minutes not be a spare part.

Voro's best value will be in the press box as he keeps Gaborik happy and a young player is not being wasted. Boyle sorry we just do not see him as a legit NHLer but as a fill-in.


The Final Word On Dubinsky

After all that has happened with his contract status, now Dubinsky has a monster sized bulls-eye on him. If the Rangers struggle there will be those who blame him. If Dubinsky struggles then people will blame his holdout and his greed.

It is sad though because the Rangers had they been smart they could have had him for less on July 1 with a home team discount. During all of this there was one constant which is that Brandon Dubinsky only wanted to play for the Rangers.

Instead it cost the Rangers more money than it should have, it means the Rangers are now tighter with the cap (and quite possibly forcing Del Zotto to London), and once again Ranger fans wound up fighting amongst themselves when the real enemy is Glen Sather.

Funny thing here is that when you look at everything, the Rangers once again showed that when they are competing with only themselves for a player they find a way to mess things up. Imagine this franchise if they had real ownership and real management.

(Pictures: Pither: New York Rangers, Luke Walker: Portland Winterhawks)


ryanloral said...

Jess-I think you're wrong about Boyle. He's definitely in as fourth line center. Torts used him over and over in key situations on the PK and he acquitted himself well. No way PA makes it over him. besides the goal he scored yesterday, he shows zilch as an nhl player. and he only scored b/c he had a wide open net.

Talon said...

Are you serious? Dubinsky wanted $16 million over four years, but he would have taken a fraction of that a few weeks earlier?

I know you like the kid, but c'mon.