New York Ranger fans got a bit of a stir to get their week off to a strange start that is for sure. You know if Alex Frolov moved as fast as he did to deny the supposed remarks he made on Sean Avery he still would be in the NHL.
It seems just like our look at the prospect forwards we expect to see the Rangers send to Traverse City. Yesterday the keywords were "physically imposing" but that will not be the case among the prospect forwards.
Today's words are "Mutt and Jeff" as the more skilled prospects will be the smaller player while it seems like each line is going to be assigned a protector.
There is a very good chance you will see the Rangers put out on occasion a line where none of the players are bigger than 5'9. Pretty sure you will then see Dylan McIlrath and Samuel Noreau as the blueline pair as big brothers if that happens.
All the eyes will be on 2011 first round pick JT Miller but by the time the day (or tournament) is done then Carl Hagelin will have stolen the show. Talk about irony as the Rangers 6th pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft spent 4 years in Michigan and never once did he play for the Ranger prospect team thank to NCAA rules.
That he makes is Ranger debut in the same state where he played his college hockey has to be special for him. And the possibility of getting to make his professional debut in his native Sweden is going to motivate Hagelin that much more.
Hagelin is our pick as the rookie who has the best chance of earning a roster spot with the Rangers. Yes better than fellow Swede Tim Erixon who most are expecting to earn a roster spot.
Hagelin will show why he was so popular with the Michigan Wolverines with his overall game. Hagelin can play both center and left wing but we expect that he will be a LW in the NHL.
From a very good first step that give him acceleration away from those trying to defend against him to a hockey IQ that is almost off the charts; you are going to see why Hagelin had his named chanted at Michigan home games.
The player we would kill to put Hagelin with is 2010 2nd round pick Christian Thomas as we see their skills complimenting each other despite the duo being on the smallish size. Hagelin is only 5'11 and Thomas 5'9 but make no mistake as both are NHL bound as the combination of speed as well as skill is going to make life miserable for other teams in the NHL.
The player who might be the lucky center at Traverse City could just be Andrew Yogan the 2010 3rd round pick. At 6'3, he has shown some good offensive skills in limited action with the Whale. The question on Yogan is will he remember that he has 2 linemates on the ice with him?
Yogan has talent, he has skill and size but it is never a good thing to come to a camp with a bad rep from a coach no matter if you are right or not. All people will see is the labels not whether or not it was fair or just.
JT Miller might be the one prospect none of the others want to play with just because he was the most current first round pick. That and because of his draft status is going to mean every little thing Miller does will be under a microscope which will extend to his linemates.
We would put Ryan Bourque out there with Miller because Bourque has a talent of helping his linemates adapt and adjust. Other than Christian Thomas, only Bourque is going to understand the microscope Miller will be under.
Bourque the Ranger's 2009 3rd round pick is going to be finally getting his chance to shine as no other prospect the Rangers have is the kind of team first player that Bourque has always been. Bourque puts his team first at times at the expense of his own personal statistics.
Forget Bourque's size issues as he is a terrific forechecker who can defend against anyone no matter how big he is. The other thing to like about Bourque is that his upbringing has helped his decision making process as Bourque is very very good at reading plays and breaking them up.
And the right wing here for us will be UFA Tommy Grant who quickly showed that he adapted to the pro game from the NCAA. The Rangers are really high on Grant who has good hands to go along with his 6'2 180 frame.
Want to see more muscle on Grant but overall we like how he adapts to those he is playing with. Going to be very much a nice surprise on the defensive end but we can see him and Bourque developing chemistry in a hurry.
Our prospect 3rd line will be centered by the 2011 4th round pick Michael St. Croix who played for the Edmonton Oil Kings. St. Croix is just 5'11 but has some nice hands and a quick release. On his right side we think that the Rangers will put either Shane McColgan (5'8 165) or Andreas Thuresson (6'1 214).
We are not sure if the Rangers will ask Thuresson to attend Traverse City but since they got him in the Brodie Dupont deal it is possible so Ken Germander will have an idea what they will be getting for the Whale. Other than that we do not have much on him so you will learn just like we will.
The left wing should be 2010 5th round pick Jason Wilson who is used to being the bodyguard for his smaller teammates but Wilson we think is going to fool a lot of people as the 6'3 205 winger moves a lot faster than people expect.
Wilson played on Niagara's first line with the 2011 5th overall pick Ryan Strome. Wilson was supposed to be just a bodyguard but showed some smart offensive skills during the second half of the season eventually finishing with 18 goals.
Shane McColgan is a player who when he shows up is a lot of fun to watch but it was his inconsistency that caused his stock to drop to the 5th round of 2011 Draft. But when McColgan brings it then he is dangerous as he can be a game changer all by himself.
He can score with anyone but again it goes back to his consistency as sometimes we wonder if he spends too much time reading his headline after a big game.
Now on the 4th line, we hope that the Rangers bring in Max Campbell even though he is under a AHL contract. Campbell also spent 4 years playing in Michigan for Western Michigan but his hometown of Strathroy Ontario a 4 hour drive to Traverse City.
Yes we admit that Campbell is a favorite prospect but we also believe his own hard work merited the invite to Traverse City. The "Soup" is a natural goal scorer who despite being the size of a twig has repeatedly proven himself to be almost impossible to clear from the crease.
The rest of the Traverse City roster in all honesty we just do not know who right now will be added as it is doubtful that Jesper Fasth or Oscar Lindberg will attend since their regular season in Sweden will be getting underway about the same time.
Randy McNaught who was the 2010 7th round pick and missed all but 8 games we are not even sure if the ankle that was badly injured will have healed in time for him to play this year. We have him ticketed for Greenville in the ECHL anyway but will not be shocked if he winds up starting even lower in the Central Hockey League.
The original idea was to try to turn the 6'4 McNaught into a power forward but his fighting skills is what will keep him in the pros for a while.
The Arena Loses But So Did Hockey
Nassau County voters turned down the 400 million dollar proposal for fix up the Nassau County Coliseum which is their right in a democracy. What was not right was the less than classy glee in which some Ranger fans took in the Islander fan's misery.
Images of decals for other cities have been making their way around the web but before Ranger fans push the Islanders out of the Tri-State area, they might want to think twice about how much pleasure they taking in a possible relocation.
If the Islanders do relocate then it won't be to Kansas City or Hamilton because Gary Bettman does not want to lose any team out of the New York TV market. The thing about karma is that she can be very cruel and if the Islanders do relocate it will be to Brooklyn and the Barclay Center.
Gary Bettman controls enough votes on the NHL Executive Committee that there is almost nothing that the Dolans will be able to do to stop the Islanders from moving to Brooklyn. If you think that the Dolans will sue think again because the last time they tried to sue the NHL they lost and Bettman turned right around and sued the Rangers as a spanking.
Not to mention that the Dolans are not wanting to lose another sports team off the MSG Networks so they will take a cash payoff and be quiet. And bad news the Islander prospect pool in many ways is deeper and more talented than the Rangers.
Now for the Ranger fan's worst nightmare the Brooklyn Islanders winning a Stanley Cup before the New York Rangers. If you do not think it is possible think again as it is very possible if the Islanders can stabilize their arena situation.
Be very careful about what you ask for as sometimes you really do not like what you get.
(Hagelin courtesy of the Michigan Wolverines)
8 hours ago