Sunday, September 6, 2009

What We Learned

If you go by the score then a 5-3 loss does not look really nice but as we keep saying Traverse City is not about winning. Traverse City is about seeing prospect development and how far the prospects have traveled on the road towards Broadway.

It is interesting to see how people are raving about Michael Del Zotto's effort against the Hurricane's prospects. Del Zotto led the Ranger prospects in on ice time and according to the Ranger's version of events was the spark behind the 3rd period rally.

The Del Zotto they saw in this game was the one we saw playing for London in last season's playoff run good and bad. Yes Del Zotto led the rush but there were also reasons to bolster our belief that Del Zotto should go back to London for another season.

For all his spark and being on the attack, Del Zotto only registered 2 shots on goal; if he is going to rush the puck like that then he needs to get more shots on net for trailing player to feast on the rebounds. The other concern was 2 stick minors that Del Zotto took as slashing and high sticking penalties show the need for more work on defense.

Ryan Bourque's play like Del Zotto's should not come as any surprise because this is what Bourque has been showing so far with Quebec in the QMJHL. The offensive leader for the Rangers here with 5 shots, Bourque will be interesting to watch with some more muscle on his body.

The real nice surprise was the play of Mitch Gaulton who is healthy and in great shape. The 2008 6th round pick is 30 lbs lighter and skating with a purpose.

Against the Canes, Gaulton went on the attack taking 4 shots on net but his passing is what got noticed besides his breakout to Grachev. Good energy from Gaulton who has missed out on almost 2 years of playing time.

Gaulton and his defensive partner Tomas Kundratek need to work on their communication but this was the first time they paired up so it will be interesting to see how they gel over the next couple of games.

Roman Horak we will be sending a nice tip for making us look good (actually the credit belongs to Jacob Bestebroer of the Chilliwack Bruins for his scouting report) as his play at both ends is giving reason think the Ranger's European scouts found a gem. We really hope that the Ranger staff will give Horak a look with Bourque and Werek before they leave Traverse City.

Scott Stajcer in our book was the Ranger player of the game as he showed flashes of brilliance despite giving up 4 goals as he kept the Rangers in the game despite being outplayed in the first 2 period. 28 shots over the 1st 2 periods against a Hurricane team that is borderline prospect in our eyes (how is a player who has 50 NHL games under his belt on this roster?)

Let us remember that Stajcer is just 18 and coming off just his first year at the OHL level. He was going up against a very talented Cane team and did not show any sign of nerves or being rattled under pressure.

Stajcer shows some signs of very strong potential and unlike the other goalie prospects in the Ranger system, Stajcer is the only goalie prospect in the Ranger system that we view as starting goalie material.

What was not mentioned was the play of Daniel Maggio as Michael Del Zotto does not have the freedom to go on the attack if his defensive partner is not covering his back. Just like his OHL coach Jeff Beukeboom used to cover for Brian Leetch, Maggio got his job done without fanfare.

Trevor Glass and Sam Klassen played well as the Ranger's 3rd pair and like Maggio without fanfare. The duo who should be headed to Hartford did not rattle under pressure and even combined for a +3.

The Ranger's 2nd and 3rd line struggled in this matchup but again it has to be taken into consideration that many of the Cane roster was older and more experienced.

A good test comes in Game 2 against an equally young Thrasher team on Monday as the talent level in this matchup will be a little more level than this Hurricane roster is.


Wednesday night I will be appearing on Blueshirt Banter radio talking with those folks there about the Ranger prospects and more. Check the Blueshirt Banter website for a link so you can listen to the broadcast as well as call in with your questions.

If you do not know the folks at the Banter, I have gotten to know them over the summer and they have put together a strong group of Ranger fan reporters including Laurie Carr of Beyond the Blueshirts and Ryan of The Manic Ranger. Joe and Jim who run the site do a great job so check them out.

(Horak courtesy of Bob Frid Freemotion photography, Gaulton courtesy of Mark Bell/Erie Otters, Stajcer courtesy of the Owen Sound Attack, Maggio courtesy of the New York Rangers)

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