We got some messages from the prospects and we have to say we liked everything we say (even the one that said we was wrong).
First up is Scott Stajcer the 2009 5th round pick who is also the only goalie the Rangers have in the system. In his second start since returning from his injury, Stajcer stopped 25 out of 26 shots to lead his Owen Sound Attack to a 4-1 win over the Plymouth Whalers and even better 3-0 lead in their OHL Western Conference playoff series.
Stajcer got some serious support from his teammates as they limited the Whales to just 12 shots over the first 2 periods while scoring 4 goals. Stajcer lost his bid for the shutout at 6:39 of the 3rd period when Plymouth finally got on the scoreboard.
Stajcer after being out since November has picked right up where he left off as he is now 3-0 1.10 GAA with a 0.958 save percentage in 4 games. That puts him right at the very top of the OHL goalie stat sheet where Stajcer is part of what we believe is a Ranger first as Christian Thomas is the leading playoff scorer in the OHL.
That gives the Rangers the top scorer as well as top goalie which we can not ever remember happening before. Which of course leads us to our other game as Jason Wilson (2010 5th) and his Niagara IceDogs sent us a message.
After game 2 we suggested that it would not be a good idea for the IceDogs to try to match the Oshawa Generals goal for goal. OK we was wrong as Niagara took game 3 with a 5-3 score and grabbed a 2-1 lead.
The key was the Niagara penalty kill as after allowing a 3 for 5 effort in game 2, the IceDogs held the Generals to a 1 for 6. It also helped that Niagara jumped all over Oshawa for a 4-0 lead before Oshawa scored on a penalty shot in the last seconds of the 2nd period.
The almost forgotten Jason Wilson got Niagara going setting up soon to be NHL first round pick Ryan Strome just 1:03 into the game. Adding a 2nd goal 1:19 later at 2:22 in our eyes took the wind out of the Generals.
Christian Thomas (2010 2nd) and Calvin de Haan ( NYI 2009 1st) teamed up for a power play assist at 19:13 to bring the Generals to within 1 at 4-3 but Niagara hit the empty net dagger at 19:51. Thomas (-2) and de Haan (-3) were not able to get untracked in this game.
Dan Maggio (NYR 2009 6th) and Tony DeHart (NYI 2010 5th) were held in check but will need to become more active for the Generals to win this series. The series shifts back to Oshawa for game 4 on Wednesday night.
Thomas remains the leading scorer in the OHL Playoffs at a 7-10-17 but the combo of Thomas and goalie Stajcer is giving the Rangers a prospect first of having the leading scorer and leading goalie at the same time. Kudos for the Rangers to be able to claim that stat.
We expect that the Whale will put Hagelin to work right away as we think Hagelin should have little trouble adapting to the faster speed of the AHL. Hagelin was selected as the CCHA's Best Defensive Forward for this season and that Whale coach Ken Germander will put that to good use.
The other bit of good news was that Boston College coach Jerry York announced that Chris Kreider (2009 1st) will return to the school for his junior season. We think that it is a win-win situation for everyone concerned but mainly the Rangers.
We fully expect Kreider to have a breakout dominating season for BC next season and then join the Rangers after his junior season. The Rangers win because Kreider staying in school means that they could avoid having to pay for a year of development in the AHL as we see Kreider as talented enough to make the jump directly to the NHL if his projections remain on track.
OK we will give the Rangers credit for signing McIlrath, Bourque and now Hagelin with ease and speed. We will give the Rangers credit for the job that Benoit Allaire has done with Scott Stajcer.
The Rangers are doing a lot of good things but we can not help but scratch our heads wondering why Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) is in a library tweeting and not in Hartford?
It would be a huge disappointment to see that the Rangers would give up on Werek.
Yes Werek struggled with injuries and played on a underachieving Kingston team but if you are willing to bring an Andrew Yogan to Hartford then why not Werek?
The same question has to be asked about Roman Horak who put up 52 assists for Chilliwack in the WHL? Forget the playmaking but a franchise that has a lot of trouble winning face offs then why is Horak not in Hartford?
(Images: Stajcer/Aaron Bell-OHL Images, Hagelin/Michigan Wolverines)