Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lets Make A Deal Or Get Suspended

So the New York Rangers and New York Islanders wasted almost no time in getting players signed to entry level contracts. Good for both teams as it sends the right kind of message to the fans that they are making a commitment to their prospects.

Have to admit that the Rangers signing Dylan McIlrath (2010 1st) was a pleasant surprise as the Rangers are not normally this fast to sign current year draft picks. For us we view it more as a sign of confidence in the young Moose Jaw Warrior defenseman than expecting him to make the 2011-12 team.

McIlrath has a ways to go before he really is NHL ready but now he has that contract as one heck of an incentive to work harder this off-season. Other than a signing bonus the contract does not go into effect until McIlrath makes a professional team whether it be the Rangers or the CT Whale.

Still we applaud the Rangers for signing McIlrath now and we hope they repeat the trick with 2nd round pick Christian Thomas.

The Rangers also signed Ryan Bourque who was a 2009 3rd round pick but it would have been a bigger story if they had not. Bourque is a prospect that can not escape shadows or whispers that quite honestly  are unfair to a prospect who is his own man.

Bourque the player has to hear the whispers that he is too small or that his size will not be able to handle pounding at the NHL level. Having watched him play the last 2 seasons, we believe Bourque will do just fine as he is a smarter player than given credit for.

He did not ask to be the son of an NHL Hall of Famer but every sentence seems to start with "Son of" and other than his father's will to win they are not alike. Bourque happens to have good taste in friends in Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan who together make up a hockey nerd trio that give new meaning to the expression "Hockey is Life".

Bourque deserves this contract and he earned it with his play not his name or friends.

The New York Islanders added Aaron Ness (2008 2nd) to their prospect pool as the defenseman decided to sign with the Islanders rather than return to Minnesota for his senior year. Ness is reporting to Bridgeport of the AHL right away but to be honest if you ask us of all the prospects to sign this season Ness was not one of them.

Ness is not much of a scorer averaging 2 goals a season for all 3 seasons with Minnesota, he does not have the kind of physical body to play as a shut down defender so here we are kind of scratching our heads with this signing.

The news was not all good on the prospect front as the OHL announced that Ethan Werek (NYR 2009 2nd) of the Kingston Frontenacs was suspended for 5 games as the result of a match penalty that Werek was called for at the end of last Friday's game against the Oshawa Generals.

Werek was called for "check to the head" and to be honest only a 5 game suspension means Werek got off lucky considering how the OHL has been handing out suspensions. Werek clearly left his feet and led with his elbow when checking Boone Jenner and for that as much as we like him calls for a suspension.

At the time he was given a match penalty (5 minute major) and a game misconduct which was subject to review by the OHL offices (who were closed over the weekend). After review the OHL decided to hit Werek with a 5 game penalty which means he misses the final 3 regular season games and the first 2 playoff games that his Kingston Frontenacs are in.

Pretty sure since the Frontenacs will be playing same Oshawa Generals in the first round of the OHL playoffs that he will also be a marked man by the Generals who just so happen to lead the OHL in fighting majors. Werek is no fighter and wearing a brace on his arm means most likely someone else is going to have to set up for him.

Having spent the last 2 years following Werek, we know he is not a dirty player and what he did was more out of frustration than anything else. It does not excuse him and we will not but at the same time Werek remains someone we would want playing for the Rangers.


Game Action

He is not a New York Ranger or a New York Islander prospect but after watching what had to be the single most outstanding performance we have witnessed this season we had to tell you about Lucas Gore of the Chilliwack Bruins. 

Gore is the number one reason why the Chilliwack Bruins are sitting in 5th place in the WHL's Western Conference after losing to Spokane in the shoot out 2-1. He also is reasons 2 through 79 as last weeks CHL Goaltender of the Week topped what he did last last week as he made 77 that is right 77 saves in this game.

Here is the link to the game sheet as Gore stopped 11 shots in the first period, 32 in the second, 30 in the third, 5 in the overtime before giving up 2 goals in the shoot out period. It was a purely beautiful performance out of an overage goalie who held the Chiefs scoreless for 48:52 in regulation before giving up the only goal that the Chiefs would score in regulation. 

To give you an idea about how awesome this performance was, the Portland Winterhawks and Vancouver Giants combined for 62 shots in their game. In 62 games this season Gore has faced 2113 shots (34.08 a game) and has only given up 189 goals so give him the goalie award for this week too.

Roman Horak (2009 5th) was scoreless in this game but as we said everyone else's play was secondary to Gore's. Now imagine being the team that will face this Chilliwack team that has gone unbeaten in their last 10 regulation games in the playoffs.

Nino Niederreiter (NYI 2010 1st) and his Portland Winterhawks gave Chilliwack a thank you present by sending the Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 defeat. Niederreiter traded his 7 game goal scoring streak (11 goals) for an 8 game scoring streak after earning 2 assists (including one on the eventual game winner) to take over as the Islander's leading prospect scorer at 38-28-66.

The win give Portland a 2 point lead over Spokane as the 2 teams head to what is expected to be a great end of season game to decide who will get the 1st seed in the WHL's Western Conference.

Jason Wilson (NYR 2010 5th) did not score as his Niagara IceDogs doubled up on the Peterborough Petes 6-3. Thursday, Wilson and the IceDogs take on the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors in what could be a preview of the OHL's Eastern Conference Finals.

Dylan McIlrath (NYR 2010 1st) celebrated his New York Ranger contract by almost getting ejected as his Moose Jaw Warriors lost to the Saskatoon Blades 3-2 in the shoot out. McIlrath was scoreless in the game but his Warriors stayed with the WHL's Eastern Conference leaders up until the shoot out.

(Images: McIlrath/Moose Jaw Warriors, Bourque/Quebec Remparts, Ness/New York Islanders, Werek/Kingston Frontenacs. Gore/Chilliwack)

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