Add 2010 2nd round pick Christian Thomas to the list of those signed as his contract is expected to be announced as early as Thursday or could be held until after the services for Derek Boogaard on Saturday.
In any case getting Thomas his deal like the case with fellow 2010 picks Dylan McIlrath and Jason Wilson is going to allow them to focus on off-season workouts. If anything it offers an extra incentive for the kids to work that much harder since other than their signing bonus, they will not start collecting on their deals until they turn pro.
Since the off-season began in addition to the three already mentioned, Ryan Bourque, Carl Hagelin and Roman Horak are the draft picks with contracts. Add in free agents Tommy Grant and Jason Missiaen to make it 8 prospects under contract already which might be a record for the Rangers in the Sather era.
The door is not fully closed yet either as the Rangers still have not made a decision on Scott Stajcer (give him an AHL EL) and Mikhail Pashnin has indicated he wishes to come over but that remains to be seen.
Neither Dan Maggio (2009 6th) or Randy McNaught (2010 7th) are not expected to be signed. Jesper Fasth and Oscar Lindberg are both under contract to their teams in Sweden for another year but are expected to be offered Ranger deals in the future.
And we have not even said word one about Chris Kreider who we know the Rangers have not given up on signing for next season. Seriously for all that has been done wrong by the Rangers; the signings of these prospects is the one thing where they have actually lived up to their promises of rebuilding the prospect pipeline.
Still before we begin throwing a party, the question is how many of these prospects are going to develop and become contributors to the Rangers? Yes it is great to see so many draft picks signed but now the bigger area of concern is to see the Rangers develop as many of these as possible.
Both the Rangers and their fans badly need to practice some patience and not repeat the mistakes of Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev. Both rushed to the professional ranks by the Rangers and both have seen their development hurt by it.
Del Zotto remains still high on the Ranger radar but Grachev has seen his "expectations" lowered from "Top 6" to "complete player" which is a fancy way of saying 3rd liner for sure and anything higher is going to be a bonus.
Still despite the concerns, this is a long overdue part of fixing the Rangers system-wide and we can not help but wonder where this franchise would be if Glen Sather hard started on this path from the day he was hired.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The 2011 Memorial Cup opens on Friday night and the NHL once again shoots itself in the foot when it comes to promoting the sport. The Memorial Cup starts on Friday but if you live in the United States you are not going to be able to watch it live.
Really guys are you that afraid that if you show Saint Johns vs Mississauga instead of a game from 1991 that the ratings for the Tampa Bay/Boston game will be that badly affected?
Versus was able to find ways to fit the IIHF World Championships in their schedule which gave US viewers a rare glimpse at a championship that has almost never been seen in the US.
And it did have interest as for the change hockey fans watched as well as talked about it. How many ways do you guys need to be told that the more hockey you show the better a chance of turning someone into a fan?
Saint Johns has a potential 4 read that FOUR possible first round 2011 draft picks in their lineup but you have to wait until 9 AM EDT/6 AM PDT Saturday for what might be your only look at the Sea Dogs.
Ah so what if come June 25th and 26th you are holding the NHL Draft. A chance to showcase possible future NHL players is not that important.
Disappointing NHL Network because really not everyone is going to want to watch the NHL Playoffs if their team is not involved so why not offer them a chance at something that in Canada is special.
(Thomas/Aaron Bell-OHL Images)