We talk about playoffs, we talk about stats and we talk about player potential but what we rarely talk about is "the contract." "The Contract" is what every prospect whether he is a 1st round pick or the very last selection in a draft dreams about.
For those who play in the Canadian Juniors the window to earn a contract from the team that drafted him is 2 years. Teams either sign a prospect or they do not and for those not signed then it becomes a much harder task to earn one.
Chris Doyle was the Ranger's 5th round pick in the 2008 draft and as of right now he does not have that contract. Michael Del Zotto (1st) has one, Derek Stepan (2nd) still is in school but it is a given that he will have one.
Tomas Kundratek (3rd) has a contract and so does Dale Weise (4th) who earned his with his play last year. That leaves Chris Doyle (5th) and Mitch Gaulton (6th) who the Rangers will need to make a decision as to whether or not to offer them a contract.
Doyle has had a lot of adversity to overcome in his 2 years since being drafted; he was putting up excellent numbers for Prince Edward Island before suffering a serious back injury and was not the same after that. Doyle missed the Ranger training and development camps because of his bad back and then things went further south for him.
Doyle started the season by being suspended for 4 games (a suspension which we felt was highly questionable) and then came an arrest on an assault charge that still has not resolved. Doyle's game in the first half this season was simply not where it should have been.
That is until Doyle received a late Christmas present when Prince Edward Island traded him to the Victoriaville Tigres. It was a trade that has given Doyle new life as in the 24 games since the trade there has been a new Chris Doyle out on the ice.
7-23-30, +8 and just 11 PIMs has Doyle making a strong case for a contract from the Rangers. Toss in an 8 game scoring streak then a 4 point game on Sunday and it is a strong message that Doyle is trying to send.
Doyle with a 1-3-4 effort against the Lewiston MAINEaics earned him the game's first star as his Tigres won 8-4. Doyle told us last week that he wants to win the prospect scoring title is making a strong bid for it.
Doyle with his effort is now 22-41-63 which leads the prospects in overall points, is now 2nd in goals and leads the prospects in assists. Doyle wants to earn a Ranger contract and knows that
the best way to do it is to pile on the points and then elevate his game in the playoffs.
We are getting the message and hopefully so will the Rangers.
Mitch Gaulton on the other hand has an almost impossible task as the 6th round pick plays defense which is an area where the Rangers already have plenty of depth. Gaulton also has had the world's worst luck when it comes to injuries as Gaulton sadly has been a magnet when it comes to attracting injuries.
Because Gaulton can not stay healthy it is hard to see what kind of potential he would have as a pro. When he is healthy Gaulton shows that he can be a solid offensive defender but his defensive work remains suspect.
On Sunday, Gaulton and his Erie Otters took on the Kitchener Rangers but lost 6-4 to miss out on a chance to clinch a playoff spot. Gaulton had an assist for his 28th point of the season but Gaulton's bad luck reared it's head as he took a delay of game minor at 19:20 of the 3rd period.
We doubt the Rangers offer Gaulton a contract which will bother us as Gaulton is one of the more popular prospects among the Ranger media. Gaulton despite all that has happened to him has always remained with a positive attitude and a smile on his face.
Then again there is Scott Stajcer and his Owen Sound Attack who have basically knocked themselves out of a playoff spot after suffering a 5-2 loss to the Brampton Battalion. Stajcer who has not won since Feb. 19th has for reasons that even we can not explain has just totally lost his game.
Stajcer has given 5 or more goals in his last 5 starts (and got pulled after giving 3 goals on 6 shots) as the Attack have fallen to 9th place. They remain just one point behind the Guelph Storm but the Storm have 2 more wins and 2 games in hand.
Daniel Maggio and his Sudbury Wolves are barely holding on to a playoff spot as they got wiped out by the Windsor Spitfires 6-0. It was an ugly mismatch for the Wolves who hold the 7th seed in the OHL's Eastern Conference.
The Wolves though have 2 games in hand as well as an edge in wins to protect their hope at making the OHL playoffs.
(Doyle courtesy of Benoit Dery)
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