Friday, September 18, 2009

These Kids Are Going to Be Alright

First Star of the Night

Friday night was a whole bunch of firsts for 2009 3rd round pick Ryan Bourque as the young left wing made sure he made a huge impact in his first regular season game in the QMJHL. Just one day after being returned to the Quebec Remparts by the Rangers, Bourque was a major factor in Quebec's 4-2 win over the Shawinigan Cataractes.

2 goals, 1 assist, and a First Star of the game is what we call a nice way to get your season started. Bourque picked up right where he left off from the exhibition season as if he was not gone for 2 weeks.

Bourque got his night going by scoring a power play goal at 12:08 of the first period as Bourque converted a feed from Alexandre Nieron to give Quebec a 1-0 lead. In the 2nd period Bourque earned a secondary assist on Marc-Oliver Vallerand's power play goal at 17:37 which gave the Remparts a 3-1 lead that proved to be the game winner.

In the 3rd period, Bourque gave his home fans a dose of what his creativity can do as Bourque scored 39 seconds into the period with an unassisted goal. On the night Bourque took 4 shots of which 2 were called dangerous, won a faceoff and even was credited for a good hit.

Second Star

Ethan Werek had a good personal debut upon his return to the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL but the Fronts came up short losing to the Kitchener Rangers 6-5 to even their record at 1-1. Werek scored a goal and added an assist in his regular season debut but it was not enough.

Werek who was named one of the assistant captains for the Frontenac showed his versatility as his goal was a shorthanded one and the assist came on the power play. It was the kind of play that showed why the Rangers used their 2009 2nd round pick on the 6'2 center from Goodwood Ontario.

Werek set up defenseman Brian Lashoff at 8:08 of the second period to give Kingston a brief 2-1 lead. It was a power play goal as the Fronts went 2 for 7 on the evening.

Just 3:10 later after Kitchener had tied the score at 2-2, Werek and teammate Michael Farrell caught the Rangers off guard and cashed in on a shorthanded goal to break the tie for a 3-2 lead that the Frontenacs were unable to hold onto. The goal was Werek's first shorthanded goal in the OHL as he looks to build on his 32 goal rookie season.

The Rest of the Prospects

So the scouting reports said that 2008 6th round pick Mitch Gaulton of the Erie Otters was the offensive minded defender and 2009 6th round pick Daniel Maggio of the Sudbury Wolves was the defensive defender. For one night at least toss the scouting reports in the trash as both defenders had a case of role reversal as Gaulton's Otters held off Maggio's Wolves 4-3 in the OHL season opener for both teams.

Gaulton got his season off to a pretty good start as he found teammate Anthony Luciani for Erie's first goal at 10:39 of the first period. It was a nice start for Gaulton who is 30 lbs lighter this season and skating a much better overall game.

Maggio on the other hand is more known for his physical defensive play scored at 2:50 of the 3rd period to tie the score at 3-3. Maggio is a 6'3 defender who had just 7 goals in 108 previous career games played well but it was not enough for the Wolves.

It was also Jeff Beukeboom's coaching debut with the Wolves after Beukeboom moved over from the Barrie Colts.

Roman Horak can be excused if he was tired in his WHL debut after flying from New York to Chilliwack overnight (a distance of 3100 miles). Horak had a very quiet evening as his Chilliwack Bruins dropped their home opener 4-3 to the Kamloops Blazers.

Horak had no points but took one high sticking penalty in the 3rd period. It was not the debut we are sure Horak wanted but the Ranger's 2009 5th round pick has been playing well so we will view this as not a sign of things to come.


Blackmailing the Rangers

Tomas Kundratek was sent to the Hartford camp rather than reporting to Medicine Hat of the WHL. It is a case of who will blink first here as the Rangers with good reason are worried that Kundratek will bolt back to Europe where he can get paid over Medicine Hat where he gets a monthly stipend that barely covers his room and board.

The Rangers on the other hand do not want to keep Kundratek who has an NHL Entry Level contract and have it count against their 50 player limit. Kundratek needs to blame himself here as his inconsistent play last season at Medicine Hat did not help his development.

If you want to guess what will happen is that the Rangers will let Kundratek go back to Europe rather than use a contract spot they can not afford to tie up. Only Kundratek does not realize that Medicine Hat would do more for his dream of an NHL career than returning to Europe.

If he goes home then odds are kiss his hope of becoming a Ranger good-bye.

Where The Prospects Play

So the Ranger prospects will be playing here this season (we will include Traverse City Invitees for now)

QMJHL- Ryan Bourque (Quebec), Chris Doyle (Prince Edward Island)

OHL- Ethan Werek (Kingston), Scott Stajcer (Owen Sound), Mitch Gaulton (Erie), Daniel Maggio (Sudbury) , Luke Pither (Barrie)

WHL- Roman Horak (Chilliwack), Craig Cunningham (Vancouver), Luke Walker (Portland)

NCAA- Chris Kreider (Boston College), Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin), Max Campbell (Western Michigan), Carl Hagelin (Michigan)

Russia- Mikhail Pashnin, and Pavel Valentenko

Michael Del Zotto (London OHL), Evgeny Grachev (Brampton OHL) and Sam Klassen (Saskatoon WHL) could still be returned to their junior teams.

Since we do not have a reliable source into Russia then we will not provide coverage of Russian Propsects (but Laurie Carr of Beyond the Blueshirts is who we recommend does) this season. That leaves us as many as 18 prospects we will be watching which is a long way from the 5-6 prospects in 2004.

We will give the Rangers serious credit here as the prospect pipeline is starting to flow but now it is up to the Rangers to let these prospects play.

(Thanks Colorado Mark for catching the missing prospects)

(Pictures Courtesy of: Bourque: Quebec, Werek: Kingston, Maggio: New York Rangers)


Denver said...

Hey, Jess-

You forgot McDonough at Wisconsin with Stepan, unless you aren't counting guys we got in trades. We also have that Valentenko guy in Russia.

Denver said...

It's Colorado Mark by the way.

Amos said...

dubinsky signed. jess if you were here i'd give you a hug. ha!

RIch said...


what kind of impact do you think the conditioning drills have on Rangers prospects compared to the other players in the other junior leagues??

Jess Rubenstein said...

Thanks Mark, that is what happens when you are writing at 4AM.


Can I settle for a nice cash tip?


It is more than those conditioning drills that IMO gives Ranger prospects an edge.

When each one leaves the July developmental camp they are given their own personalized workout guide to live by.

It is not a knock on the junior leagues as they simply do not have the resources that the Rangers can provide.

Jess Rubenstein said...


Thanks for the kind words, I did not have the problems you did but I sent your email to the folks at BSB to let them know just in case