Maybe we have gotten so used to the idea of athletes not finishing their 4 years in college that the thought of McDonagh staying in school is the surprise. But if you look closer at McDonagh's record then what he is considering is in character for him.
As a sophomore, McDonagh was named to both the Big Ten and WCHA All-Academic teams so it just might be that McDonagh is placing a priority on getting his education taken care of first. While it is very easy to say that McDonagh can always return to school after his playing days were done; we know from first hand experience how hard it is to return to school after being out for a long time.
One also has to take into consideration that McDonagh might also want to win an NCAA championship with the Badgers as they are going to be returning a very talented team next season. While the Badgers lose Blake Geoffrion which is a huge loss; the Coyos only had 6 seniors on the team and just might be an even better team next season.
McDonagh is not going to go directly from Wisconsin to the Rangers if he turns professional now so why not stay at Wisconsin and use that time to fine tune your game. There is no question that defensively McDonagh is rock solid but questions do remain about his offensive side.
McDonagh in 43 games was 4-14-18 and to be honest, his numbers could have been better as McDonagh does have the offensive skill. We would like to see improvement on his shot selection as well as on his accuracy.
But there is another side that maybe few are seeing which is what kind of team Hartford will have next season as they like the Rangers missed the playoffs this year. Next year's team is not going to get much help from the prospect pipeline and that too might be a factor in McDonagh's decision.
However wait a year and it is expected that there will be a much more talented group of prospects joining the Rangers. Start with his teammate at Wisconsin Derek Stepan who in turn will be joined by his friends Ryan Bourque and possibly Chris Kreider.
Then there is Ethan Werek, Carl Hagelin, and Roman Horak who are also expected to join for the 2011-12 season and McDonagh will be able to be a part of a new young core for the Rangers. By then the Rangers should have openings on the blueline that will make it easier for McDonagh to jump right into the Ranger lineup.
One thing is for sure Ryan McDonagh will become a Ranger whether it happens this year or next.
The only remaining Ranger prospect still playing Chris Doyle and his Victoriaville Tigre got their series against the Saint John Sea Dogs underway and Game 1 might be one the Tigre regret. The Tigre lost game 1 4-2 to the Sea Dogs as they gave away a 2-0 first period lead.
Chris Doyle was held scoreless as the Sea Dogs who finished the QMJHL regular season with the league's best record showed why. The Tigre did jump out to a 2-0 lead in the game's first 10 minutes but could not sustain the offensive pressure.
The Sea Dogs scored just after the 10 minute mark in the first period and then turned up the defense in the second period holding the Tigre to just 7 shots on net. In the 3rd period the Sea Dogs scored 3 goals to take the lead and earn the win.
For Doyle, he tried to do his part as he had 4 shots on net and 3 of those shots were strong scoring chances. Doyle also had 2 hits and stayed out of the penalty box but was a -1.
Game 2 will be Saturday in Saint John.
(McDonagh courtesy of Melody Hasse)