Sunday, April 11, 2010

And Then There Were Just Two

The New York Rangers were not the only ones to see their season come to a disappointing ending on Sunday. Tomas Kundratek and his Medicine Hat Tigers saw their season come to an end with a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss to the the Calgary Hitmen which ended their WHL playoff series in 6 games.

Kundratek played hard but it came down to his Tigers unable to hold leads or get that final goal but that the Tigers made it 6 games against one of the best teams in the WHL is not a bad way to go out.

Kundratek we believe gained from returning to the WHL this season as his play improved with time especially over the 2nd half of the season and into the WHL playoffs. We saw the maturity that Kundratek needed to have in his game in order to be able to make the jump to the next step which is the professional ranks.

In this game Kundratek was involved at both ends of the ice trying to help hold off a Calgary attack that generated 46 shots on goal against the Tigers. Kundratek wound up with a secondary assist for his 6th point of the playoffs but took 2 minors during the game and wound up a -2.

As a tradition, the Tigers name the players who are not returning as their stars of the game and for Kundratek, he was named the game's 3rd star. In hindsight over the last couple of months that would be a fair statement as to his overall play.

We liked how Kundratek raised his play in the biggest games for the Tigers and think that next season it will give him a good starting point with the Hartford Wolfpack.

For Kundratek, it means the end of his WHL career as he has used up his WHL eligibility and with Hartford finished for the year then Kundratek gets to head home before returning for the post-draft prospect camp. 


With the elimination of Kundratek that leaves Sam Klassen of the Saskatoon Blades (trailing Brandon 3-2) and Chris Doyle of the Victoriaville Tigres (advanced to the QMJHL semi-finals) as the remaining prospects alive. 

Klassen plays Monday evening as his Blades look to force a 7th game while the schedule for the Tigres has not been announced. It has been a tough year for Ranger prospects and the playoffs but at the worst with Chris Kreider the Ranger prospects are assured of no less than 1 champion.


Now as to where the Rangers will get to draft now that they have been eliminated is one of the more confusing issues for the fans so here is the best understanding of their situation that we have found.

The Rangers entering the draft lottery with the starting position of 10th, they have no chance of winning the first pick as the rules of the lottery say that the best a team can do if they win the lottery is move up 4 spots. The Rangers have a 2.1% chance of winning the lottery.

Those same rules also say that no team can drop more than one spot which means the worst the Rangers can do is draft 11th. The odds of that happening are 3.9% so for now the best bet for your looking to play draft guru is to plan for the 10th pick.

For those wondering why we have been hoping for the Rangers to have tanked it now maybe you can understand why; defeating the Islanders twice and both the Lightning and Panthers helped those teams a lot more than it did the Rangers.

The Islanders and Panthers both have real chances at winning the first pick in the draft but even if they do not both are in a position to get themselves a franchise player even if they drop 1 spot.

Then Rangers put themselves into an area where the really solid prospects are out of reach and the secondary level ones are smaller players which the Rangers have plenty of. The next option which to be honest we really believe would be the better move now is to trade down and try to regain the 3rd round pick given up in the Boyle trade..

Finally the word from Derek Stepan himself is that he is alright and for people not to worry about him. Stepan who was injured trying to stop fellow prospect Chris Kreider gave a lot of people a scare but discovered the hard way what happens when people try to check Kreider.

They wind up going flying not Kreider.

(Kundratek courtesy of Medicine Hat Tigers)


A SIG said...

Hey Jess,

What's your take on Kirill? Some write ups say he has premier talent and has the traditional issues of a russian player (how much truth to those reports?).

Agree that the rangers have lost out in multiple ways. They don't draft high for premier talent and they miss the playoffs. As the saying goes, sometimes having two goals is not having any goal.

Jess Rubenstein said...

A Sig

To be honest after reading up on the antics of Kabanov, I would not touch him period.

See the problem is not that he is Russian but that as is in the case in too many Europeans is that they get a lot of bad advice about how good they are, about how they should be treated and more.

What is happening with him is sadly exactly what the KHL wants to see which is more Russian players staying home and not try their luck in North America.

It is a huge wakeup when they come over to North America as I am still waiting for the first European prospect to tell me that this was what they expected.

Funny thing is that they say North American Prospects are coddled.

I would use a 6th or 7th on him just in case he grows up but anything higher would be a wasted pick.