Thursday, April 22, 2010

They Are Not Coming

Well if the New York Rangers were looking to add Ryan McDonagh or Derek Stepan to the professional ranks then the news out of Madison Wisconsin is not going to be good. The Wisconsin Badgers held their annual hockey awards banquet on Wednesday night and both Ranger prospects were awarded letters for next season.

McDonagh will be serving as the Badger's only captain next season after serving as one of the Tri-captains last season. Derek Stepan was named as an assistant captain with another player to be named as a second assistant next fall.

At the banquet, McDonagh was awarded two awards for his performance this past season. First was being awarded the Fenton Kelsey Jr. Most Competitive Player award for the 2nd year in the row.

What makes this award stand out is that it is voted on by his teammates and to earn it 2 straight seasons is going to make Ranger fans that much more disappointed in his decision. The other award was the W Club Community Service Award, given to the Badger who best balances his hockey success with community involvement.

Now Stepan did not take home any of the team awards; that he was named as one of the assistants should come as no surprise for those who saw Stepan as the captain of gold medal winning Team USA. We knew that Stepan was planning on returning back to Wisconsin for his junior season but this more or less seals the deal.

But it also appears that the third member of the Ranger college hopefuls Carl Hagelin is also not going to leave school either. Unconfirmed reports out of Michigan say that not only will Carl Hagelin be back for his senior season but is going to move up from assistant captain to team captain.

Hagelin who finished the season as Michigan's leading scorer in our book is making the right decision here. Hagelin had a great year there is no question about it but he has only in our eyes given one really strong effort in his off-season work.

We think improving his finishing skills as well as being a strong leader on and off the ice is only going to pay dividends for the Rangers in the future. The Rangers are looking at adding 3 prospects here who are going to be more than just players for their team but strong presences for their teammates.

On that the Rangers have to be happy especially after the words of John Tortorella on breakup day about the Ranger locker room. While any of these 3 would be a welcome addition to the Ranger system at the same time the short term disappointment will also force the Rangers to think long and very hard about how to use the 10th pick in the draft.

We also think that Hagelin and Stepan are going to go into next season as legit candidates for the Hobey Baker award which will be a first for the Rangers. But we also think the Rangers will also have a serious problem because of these 3 staying in school.

If thinks fall into place as we expect it to do then after next season, McDonagh, Stepan, Hagelin, Werek, Horak and Bourque should all sign entry level contracts. All would be 3 year deals but if the Rangers were to have all of them start as professionals at the same time then all of them would be as a unit when it came to their their 2nd contracts.

If that is the case then the hope would be that the Rangers would finally smarten up on how they spend their money. The hope has to be that these prospects along with Chris Kreider and whoever they select in the 2010 draft will force a change in the addiction to free agency that has seriously damaged the Rangers over the last 15 years.

Maybe these kids are smarter than the Rangers or at least we can hope they are.

(McDonagh and Stepan courtesy of Melody Hasse, Hagelin courtesy of Scott Galvin)

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