When your name is Luke Walker then you can expect people to use a bunch of corny nicknames when you play well. A night where you have 2 goals and an assist is a good example but as we said before the Traverse City tournament, Walker is someone we were rooting for.
6'2 175 coming off a good season on a bad team, Walker is on a tryout basis with the Ranger prospects. Overall 2-2-4 so far after 3 games one has to wonder if it will be enough to earn Walker a trip to New York and the Ranger's training camp.
The problem that we see at the moment is that the Rangers can not send a Walker to Hartford because he is only 19. Then toss in that the Rangers are very close to their 50 contract limit so while Walker is deserving of a closer look the Rangers are basically handcuffed.
Still the Rangers deserve some real credit here because Walker and Daniel Bartek have played a lot better than most expected out of the free agents attending the Traverse City camp.
As for the game, it was ugly, it was for the most part not a very good effort and if the game would have lasted much longer it would have been a loss but the Rangers held off the Red Wing prospects 4-3. In a way it was exactly what John Tortorella needed to see as with the Ranger's main camp starting on Saturday, Tortorella needed a reminder of what he has to fix the Rangers.
The Rangers jumped out to a 4-0 lead but in this game were outplayed by the Red Wing prospects after the 1st period. The Red Wing prospects had a 26-12 shot advantage after the first period and the prospects did not help themselves by taking 5 minors over those same 2 periods.
The question that people keep asking is "if Traverse City is not about winning or losing then why take part?". The best answer is that when players practice and play against other members of their own team they have a tendency to let up.
Most times you do not take the hit or shot because you do not want to risk injury to a fellow teammate so a Traverse City offers real time game action against other teams. Now toss in that for many of those playing in these games a ticket to the Ranger's main camp is the prize and you have prospects who hopefully are giving their all.
Helped, Hurt or Needs More
The problem being a talent high draft pick is that you expect them to produce in situations like Traverse City so Ryan Bourque and Ethan Werek both with 1-2-3 have shown why the Rangers have been very high on their potential. Mitch Gaulton (0-2-2) and Roman Horak (1-1-2) both 6th round picks have been pleasant surprises carrying over their strong play from their junior camps.
Luke Walker (2-2-4) and Daniel Bartek have played well from among the tryout players and if it was up to us have earned a trip to the main camp as a reward for their hard work. Bartek we were told to watch for a checking player has shown more offense than we expected while Walker is very much someone who the Rangers will need to keep an eye on this season as we think he is going to be a huge reason why the Portland Winterhawks will be going from worst to first this season.
Michael Del Zotto, Evgeny Grachev and Tomas Kundratek was those we were hoping would put up better numbers at Traverse City as they have not been as dominating as we had hoped they would be. Of course the expectations are those 3 are much higher than any of the other prospects but a combined 2-0-2 for the 3 of them have to be head scratchers.
Chad Johnson has played well for the Ranger prospects and if we were either Zaba or Wiikkman they had best bring their "A" games to training camp as Johnson could just blow right by them for the Hartford job.
Chris Doyle has had a great pre-season with the Prince Edward Island Rocket going 5-3-8 in 5 games which was 5th overall in the QMJHL scoring. But in the last preseason game, Doyle collided with a linesman and the QMJHL felt the collision was deliberate and suspended Doyle for the first 4 games of the QMJHL season.
Doyle says that he was not looking when he and the linesman Wayne Doyle (no relation) collided but he was called for game misconduct as well as a match penalty. Both are call for an automatic one game suspension which is reviewed and the QMJHL added on an additional 3 games.
It did not help Doyle's cause that on the previous play he had argued with the linesman so Doyle will not get to play until Prince Edward Island takes on the Saint John Sea Dogs on September 23rd.
(Luke Walker courtesy of the Portland Winterhawks)
3 hours ago