Monday, September 7, 2009

You Have to Like This

As we said yesterday the Ranger Prospect team was going to give us a better idea about where they were at by playing the Atlanta Thrasher prospect team. A 4-1 win later and one has to say that the Ranger prospects are right on track to bring Ranger fans a very promising future.

Everyone else is talking about the goals and assists but what deserves notice is what is not being said. Starting with how this prospect team has been getting contributions from everyone who has played.

After 2 games the Rangers have 7 goals from 7 different players and points out of 10 players. That is a welcome change from the offensively challenged Ranger team last year and it is a good sign when you see everyone who is dressing making contribution to the team.

It is easy to talk about the young stars like Grachev and Del Zotto but what is standing out for us is the depth of this group of prospects. It is a strong sign that the prospect pipeline is getting stronger and much deeper.

Our Stars

We have to start with Sam Klassen as he has played well in both games so far. Leading the prospect team in +/- at +3 is not as big a surprise given his +27 last season with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

What has been the surprise is how easy he has adapting to the faster speed of this level. Got to really like the discipline that Klassen has shown on the ice as well as how smoothly he and defensive partner Trevor Glass have taken to each other on the ice.

Klassen who was signed as a free agent is eligible to return to the WHL as an overage player is going to make it very difficult for the Rangers to send back. Klassen is supposed to be a stay at home defender but is showing an offensive side that many did not think he had.

Also got to like how he is watching the ice and staying in position, one very cool customer who does not panic under pressure and is one of the reasons why the Rangers have killed off 11 power plays.

Klassen's main partner has been Trevor Glass who was the one we were expecting to be the offensive minded player of the pairing. Glass is someone we have watched during his time in the WHL and one of the things we really liked about him was his winning attitude.

When you come to the rink expecting to win it rubs off on teammates as Glass has been a 2 time WHL champion and won the Memorial Cup with the Spokane Chiefs. Like Klassen, Glass is also a free agent signed by the Rangers.

We have talked with Glass on a couple of occasions and find him to be very mature and quite grounded for a 21 year old. That he has a lot of experience playing in big games is going to help him as he develops.

Glass, Klassen, Dowzak, Berube, and Michael Sauer all come from the WHL which we feel is the better of the 3 CHL leagues in preparing a prospect for an NHL career.

More Kudos

In all honesty we really did not expect much from Daniel Bartek who is at Traverse City on a tryout basis. Bartek who finished off his WHL career playing for former Ranger Doug Soetart is a tall stringbean (6'3 195) who actually was heading to a Canadian college on a scholarship.

Bartek though has some supporters among the WHL writers who think he has the potential to become a very good NHL checking forward. Bartek we are not ready to say is NHL material but is showing he is worth bringing to the main camp for a longer look.

Nice hands, needs to be a bit more aggressive at both ends of the ice but has not been caught out of position and it does help that he has been playing with fellow Czech Roman Horak.

What We want to See in the Last 2 games

The Rangers are not going to play for the Traverse City Title after the Hurricanes defeated the Red Wings so what we hope the Rangers mix up the lines and give everyone a chance to play in different situations.

There is no question that the draft picks are showing NHL potential whether it is Grachev, Bourque or Horak but what we would like to see them show some leadership, some snarl and how they react to adversity.

Put Grachev with Bourque and Horak so the bigger Grachev will show whether he will stand up for his smaller linemates. Now we are not asking Grachev to drop the gloves but rather to push back when someone tries to push his teammates around.

Put Del Zotto with Kundratek as while we have no worries about Del Zotto there are some concerns about Kundratek. Kundratek has the talent to be a top 4 defenseman but the question is does he have the mental makeup (read that as mental toughness).

The Rangers have been using Del Zotto with Daniel Maggio and Tysen Dowzak who is the defensive specialist with Kundratek. Kundratek we do not believe offers enough offense to be a 4 so force him to work harder if he does not want to be sent back to Medicine Hat.

Scott Stajcer is going back to Owen Sound so go with Chad Johnson in the last 2 games as we believe he can push his way on the Hartford roster and push Miikka Wiikman off it. Johnson going to the ECHL serves little purpose at his age so it should be Hartford.

Finally let the free agents get top line duty as well as special team duty as players like Bourque and Grachev are sure shots for main camp. Players like Luke Walker, Luke Pither or Craig Cunningham have 2 games to earn that prized ticket to New York so let them take their best shot.


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.


It is kind of hard for me to ask people to do more than they already have done for me but if you notice on the upper right corner there is a widget from people at Social Vibe. Social Vibe is a site that uses the power of the web to help raise money for worthy causes.

I joined because I have been lucky for the most part to have had a healthy life (bad knee and all) but I know of others who have not been so lucky. I joined because as a Ranger fan I have watched over the years, Ranger fans consistently supporting Children's Charities.

Prospect Park is has selected the Children's Miracle Network as who we would like to raise money for. When you click on the ad then we earn points toward a contribution for the folks at the CMN.

If you would like to learn more about Social Vibe then click here

(Sam Klassen: Saskatoon Blades, Trevor Glass and Daniel Bartek: New York Rangers)


Amos said...

I like the idea of giving the tryouts more time to make an impression... hopefully Kenny G (Gernander) thinks the same way. I'm a tiny bit surprised that Grachev hasn't been a one man wrecking crew on the ice. I think I've been spoiled to think that kid is going to produce every time he sets foot on the rink, I guess maybe I'd hoped that when the prospects were down in the 3rd that he'd singlehandedly destroy the competition. He's a bust! hahahahah

Kovy274Hart said...

Great report Jess. Sounds like some good stuff for fans to get excited about regarding our future.