2 hours ago
Monday, August 16, 2010
Time To Hand Out Some Homework
If I was a New York Ranger prospect then right now I am looking to take a stick to Scotty Hockey (nice guy and read his stuff anyway) for being that kid.
Actually what Scotty did the other day was ask me who I was looking at this season and it reminded my of the things I am hoping to see from the prospects as they head into Traverse City as well as training camp.
The first assignment which is to all of them and that is to prove me wrong about none of them being given a fair and legit chance at making the Ranger roster out of training camp. I want to be wrong as that would mean that there is still hope for a season that already many are whispering is lost before it even starts.
In this case not going to worry about those who will not be attending training camp so going from the oldest draft class to the latest:
Derek Stepan: Has to be perfect from day 1 as the Rangers have the option to send him to Calgary of the WHL to save a year on his contract. His consistency and face off skills are going to make him or break him
Evgeny Grachev: Poor kid is paying for the Rangers not sending him back to Brampton and it showed. Come out firing as nobody on the roster or in system has the arsenal of shots that Grachev has. Step up and not defer as the talent is there but the work ethic has to catch up to the talent.
Tomas Kundratek: Show continuing maturity on the ice as that is what cost him last year. If he comes into camp wiser and willing to use his "smarts" then he will shock a lot of people as Kundratek is the prototype defenseman for an attacking hockey system. His first pass can be lethal but if he keeps wandering all over the ice then he might find himself in Europe and not Hartford.
Dale Weise: He is NHL ready, anyone who has watched him knows that this self-made player has worked his way to a deserved shot at the NHL. Might be the strongest prospect in the system and the only thing holding him back with be Ranger management.
Ethan Werek: has been single minded since March about making the Rangers now which makes him the dark horse to steal a roster spot. The key is going to be improving his defense as it is NHL or back to the OHL for him given his age. Watch him in Traverse City.
Ryan Bourque: Has to stop worrying about the critics and be the player he can be. Unless he grows then he will always have people questioning his size. Show off his forecheck and skating speed as you can not hit what you can not catch up to.
Roman Horak: Bad news you are now a known prospect so expectations are going to be higher. No more deferring to others as Horak has an NHL future as a defensive foward. Think the face off skills of Craig MacTavish but with more offense. Has to have a better body to play in the NHL as he is way too skinny.
Scott Stajcer: Has to be better than perfect as Cam Talbot has already passed him as a goalie prospect. Was badly overworked by Owen Sound so his mental state of mind is the biggest concern.
Daniel Maggio: Another player who suffered from being on a bad team. Maggio needs to decide what kind of defender he wants to be as he bounces from scorer to enforcer to shut down guy. Maggio here is an idea try to be all 3 if you want a contract.
Dylan McIlrath: The big kid with the even bigger bullseye on him because of his selection. Dylan relax, enjoy your first camp and absorb every single thing you can. You are 2 years away so do not try to go at warp speed from day 1 as you have to let the development come to you. Do not bother to read what people are saying (except of course us here and in Moose Jaw)
Christian Thomas: If someone is cruel they will make Thomas and Bourque roommates at camp but Thomas makes Bourque look big. Has to show up in camp ready to be run at because of his 2nd round status. Earn respect by first hitting someone then scoring on them to shut people up.
Andrew Yogan: Never should have fallen to the 4th round as he has the tools and the size to be a power forward. Strange how a 25-30-55 season has people questioning his consistency but maybe the problem is not him but what was asked of him. His challenge is to decide how bad he wants to be an NHL player; if he wants it then hello future power forward.
Jason Wilson: Rangers say he is a late bloomer, other said his numbers would be better on a good team and others say injuries hurt him. Well Wilson has to show that the Rangers are right because right now it is hard to project him higher than a AHL lifer.
Randy McNaught: Still wondering why the Rangers picked him as he was an WHL enforcer as we watched a lot of his team due to Sam Klassen. Randy make sure you say hi to Melissa when you are sent to Greenville and learn to love grits.
Ryan McDonagh: To be blunt the only thing that will slow down McDonagh is himself as he better show up to training camp believing he belongs or else he will write that ticket to Hartford sooner than later. His own self-confidence might be McDonagh's worst enemy as everyone but McDonagh knew he belonged it seemed.
Micheal Sauer: Injuries has held him back as well (in our opinion) Tortorella's poor treatment of him but if Sauer can remain healthy he can be on our team anyday. Believe Michael it is time for you to believe that you belong there.
Sam Klassen: Introduce yourself Sam by showing the rest of the Ranger Universe why we say you are the hardest open ice hitter wearing Ranger Blue. Blast someone into the next galaxy and turn the Ranger's crease into a "No Man's Land". Do that and you will become an instead folk hero among the Ranger faithful.
Lee Baldwin: Not very sold on someone who has as limited a background as Baldwin does. Might wind up in Greenville because of his limited development so his challenge is to overcome the more touted prospects to stick in Hartford.
Dane Byers: Day one of training camp, go after either Prust or Boogard and show the management that they did not need either. Byers offers more than either Prust or Boogard especially on defense as he is a rock solid defender. Dane NO MORE MR. NICE GUY for you
Pavel Valentenko: If he can stay healthy then his edge comes from previous NHL experience but first he has to prove he can remain healthy. If PV shows up like the player who wowed the Canadians in 2007 then he will allow the Rangers to let the younger defensive prospects time to develop while raising his own value.
Jyri Niemi: You have to shake that inconsistent label that you have been tagged with. You know you are headed back to Saskatoon so make a good impression today so it does not look like signing you was a mistake tomorrow.
Cam Talbot: Everyone has you ticketed to Greenville so you can play a lot; people also did not think you would be the starter at UAH last season either. Be the Cam Talbot who defies everyone and force the Rangers to keep you in Hartford. You are a future NHL goalie with the way you play better in the bigger games.
Chad Johnson: Last season you pushed Matt Zaba out of the Ranger's system so now you have to hold off Cam Talbot. You too will be an NHL goalie so force the Rangers to keep you as the backup goalie with your play.
And one last assignment to the prospects, remember that those "veterans" that you might think you should defer actually need you to scare them into worrying about their jobs. Forget everything you see or hear and just think back to the first time you had that dream of becoming an NHL player.
This is your chance to make that dream a reality as ask a Dubinsky or a Callahan if dreams can come true. Nobody gave either of them a chance to become Rangers and look where they are today.
Be the next Dubi and Cally.
(Scotty Hockey Image courtesy of http://scottyhockey.blogspot.com/ please read him or he will keep wanting to hang out with us)
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