Thursday, October 1, 2009

Class is Now In Session

This weekend marks the beginning of the 2009-10 for more than just the New York Rangers as Ranger prospects playing in the NCAA will be getting their season underway as well. This season will be a little different as 3 key Ranger prospects will be playing NCAA hockey and it will be interesting to see how they handle it.

Chris Kreider may not have the expectations of the Boston College fans but many a Ranger fan will be watching to see what they will get out of the young freshman. Kreider is joining a team that has been picked to finished 3rd in the Hockey East and is already ranked 12th nationally by the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine.

The 6'2 205 forward is going to help the Eagles right away with his size and speed as other than Jimmy Hayes (6'5 210 Toronto 2nd 2008) the Eagles do not have much height. What we will be looking for out of Kreider will be how fast he adapts to the higher level of play.

If he plays with his smarts then he should produce some good numbers as unlike most of the other Ranger college prospects Kreider is not expected to be carrying his team. We believe Kreider can and should put up at least a 10-10 freshman season.

We are not going to bother hiding our feelings but if you have been reading this place for a while then you know how high we are on Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) now we are going take it even higher. Derek Stepan is our pick for breakout prospect for the 2009-10 season and we can't wait until this high octane prospect signs with the Rangers.

If you want to look for the ideal player for the Tortorella "Safe is Death" system then here he is. They talk about how fast Kreider is; well Stepan is not only just as fast but is also has a way better hockey IQ.

The leading returning scorer for the Wisconsin Badgers (9-24-33 as a freshman); we are expecting even bigger numbers from him as Stepan's Badgers are picked to finish 3rd in the WCHA and start the season ranked 14th by the USA Today poll.

Stepan can score, he can set up and now he is also expected to join Team USA for the World Under-20 Championships. Still this season we can see 20 goals as well as close to the same number of assists.

But wait a second we are not down with the Wisconsin Badgers as thanks to the Scott Gomez trade, let us introduce you to what was Montreal's 2007 first round pick (12th overall) and now future Ranger defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

Who knows what Bob Gainey was thinking when he gave the Rangers McDonagh but one thing is for sure; Ranger fans will be sending thank you cards to the Montreal GM. Montreal fans were very upset when they saw that they had given up McDonagh to the Rangers and they had very good reason to.

One of the Badger Captains; McDonagh is a stud 2 way defenseman who is equally good at either end of the ice. The player voted by his teammates as the "Most Competitive" player on the team there is nothing McDonagh will do on the ice to help the Badgers win.

Pick any key situation and you will find the 6'1 216 defender on the ice. Do not even think about messing with one of his teammates as McDonagh will be in your face. Ranger fans will fall in love with this defender as his high energy even higher work ethic is exactly the kind of player Ranger fans want.

Carl Hagelin (2007 6th)is an interesting player to watch as last season when Hagelin scored a point the Michigan Wolverines were 18-2.

Hagelin is entering his junior season with annual NCAA contender Michigan but we feel he is at a crossroads regarding his potential. There is some serious talent here but the question is will it come out and develop? Hagelin had 13 goals last season but he should have had a lot more as no other player missed more empty nets or on solid scoring chances than Hagelin did.

A tremendous skater who in his own way is a slightly bigger version of Ryan Bourque; Hagelin has it in him to become a very good checking forward at the NHL level who also has some offense to his game. Another player built for Tortorella's system with his skating skills but the question is now when will Hagelin break out?

Michigan is as typically is ranked at the top of the CCHA (picked 1st by both coaches and media) and 4th nationally (USA Today) but to do so Hagelin needs to have a monster season on offense. If Hagelin (who should score at least 20 goals) does then Michigan is headed back to the Frozen Four; if not then Hagelin might start falling off the Ranger radar for his senior season.

He is the Rodney Dangerfield of Ranger prospects because outside of us here nobody seems to think much of Max Campbell (2007 5th) so let us tell you why you should. He was the leading goal scorer on a bad Western Michigan team (16), he had 4 game winning goals (led team), 11 power play goals (led team) and he was the only player in the CCHA to be perfect on all his shootout attempts (3 for 3).

Oh and Max Campbell has paid his own way to 2 straight Ranger development camps (totally unheard of for an NCAA prospect). Still wonder why we like him so much?

The 6' 190 junior center is not the biggest dog in the yard but put him in a goal crease and see if you can move him. He may look so skinny you will want to feed him but "Soup" will fight tooth and nail to remain in the crease.

On this same Western Michigan team, Campbell plays against some of the best teams in the NCAA on a regular basis and holds his own. Last season in a true test of character, Campbell was a healthy scratch for not working hard; Campbell accepted his responsibility and then went out and busted his butt like he was never going to be a healthy scratch again.

Western Michigan is not expected to do much in the CCHA (most pick 11th or 12th) but we think Campbell is going break 20 goals and have a good season even though he will be going up against everyone else's best defenders.

Daniel Hobbs (2007 7th) struggled big time as a freshman last season for the UMass Minutemen just 1-1-2 in 24 games while being scratched in 15 games. For Hobbs, his sophomore season is going to be make or break for him as a player at UMass as not many upperclassmen are 4th line players.

Hobb's performance was a major disappointment for us to watch as we watched him work though adversity the year before with the Ohio Junior Bluejackets of the USHL. Hobbs was living up to Ranger director of player personal Gordie Clark's scouting report of playing better against the better competition.

So as he enters his 2009-10 season our own expectations (and one of us attends UMass as a Journalism student) are very low as are those in the Hockey East polls who see UMass as 7th out of 10.


Game Action

Luke Pither (Traverse City) improved his prospect leading points lead with his 9th goal and 1st assist as his Barrie Colts defeated the Plymouth Whalers 3-2 in OHL action. Pither scored Barrie's first goal of the game and then set up a tying goal in the 2nd period while earning the game's second star.


Name Dropping

Chris Kreider is going to have Phillip Samuelson as a teammate at Boston College as in Phillip son of Ulfie. Now son is only partly following in his father's footsteps as yes he is a defensemen but no he is not going to be the pain in the rear that Ranger fans loved. What a shame.

Now this one stopped us dead in our tracks for a second as we had to look twice to make sure it was not a typo. Daniel Hobbs will be competing for ice time against one Eddie Olczyk son of current NBC TV hockey commentator and former member of the 1994 Rangers.

Eddie the younger is majoring in what else: English and Communications at UMass. He is also a smaller version of his father coming to UMass from Waterloo of the USHL.


Now Why Can't the NHL Do This

One of these quiet days we are going to do a posting of nothing but the memos on rules or scoring or explanations that we get from the various leagues. Today's entry will come to you from the folks of the CCHA is one we think is long overdue by the NHL.

We say many of you will like this because you have asked the NHL to do this. What the CCHA is doing is award 3 points for a win (regulation, or OT), a shootout win nets you 2 points, a loss in shootout is worth 1 point and loss in regulation or overtime gets 0 points.

The memo goes into further detail here but for us to see someone make an effort to make going for the win worth it instead of that tired "play it safe until the shoot out" is going to help make the games more exciting in our book.

We dare someone else to try it, heck we double dare them.

(Pictures: Kreider/New York Rangers, Stepan and McDonagh: Wisconsin Badgers, Carl Hagelin:Michigan Wolverines, Max Campbell:Zolton Cohen/Western Michigan, Danny Hobbs: UMass Minutemen)

1 comment:

Brian said...

Hey, I just thought I'd point out that Chris Kreider was named to the "INSIDE COLLEGE HOCKEY 2009-10 PRESEASON ALL-ROOKIE TEAM" though I don't know if that's an official award or just an ESPN affiliate power ranking sort of thing.