Sunday, August 28, 2011
The Official Unofficial Very Accurate Rankings Of Ranger Prospects
Maybe if are a New York Ranger fan and you want to insult someone's intelligence then try calling someone a TV news reporter. If you are getting to read this on Sunday morning then I hope it is from a place where it is safe, dry and you are surrounded by those who mean the most to you.
But please Mr. and Ms "On the Scene" news reporter spare us the lecture about how going outside risks the lives of first responders. You are doing the very same thing that you are telling people not to do or to quote one of the reporters "those morons."
The biggest pet peeve I do have watching people try to rank the prospects. Sorry not trying to sound like an egomaniac but as I enter my 8th season doing this, I still have not been able to come up with a fair objective method to rank prospects.
That is because it does not exist and any list or ranking should be taken with a grain of salt given the many factors that come into play as prospects develop. What a prospect ranking list really is when you strip it all away is a list of those prospects people like the best.
Anyone who says that they do not have favorite prospects is only kidding themselves. Anyone who says that their list is purely objective and balanced is also kidding themselves.
In my book, I consider character, drive and then talent as the first 3 things to look for. In character you are looking for red flags like disciplinary issues, suspensions and what they do away from the ice.
Drive is measured by the things a player does to improve himself before, during and after the season. Is the prospect working out, doing the things he needs to do to improve or is he out golfing or partying.
Talent needs little explanation other than does the prospect show that his talent is improving. But once you get past those 3 then things get harder to judge as how can you measure someone who is playing HS hockey against a guy who just graduated from college?
The diversity of where prospects play whether it is in Europe, the USA or even the 3 leagues that make up the CHL has to be measured as well. A player who is going up against adults in Europe had better be ranked higher than a 17 year old who missed part of the season with injury.
That said here is my own biased Top Ten Ranger prospects who make covering prospects worth doing. Not all are stars and a couple will not even make it to the NHL but I like them.
Take the list with a grain of salt or look at it as the all character list. But one thing that this list has is a ton of heart.
10-Max Campbell- Max was the "Comeback" prospect of last season. Written off after a disaster of a junior season, Campbell led Western Michigan to their first NCAA appearance since the 1990s thanks in large part to some clutch goals.
Campbell is on an AHL contract so his road to NYC has a few roadblocks but Campbell is a pure scorer who once he sets himself in the crease is hard to move out.
9-Jason Wilson- J-Dub as we call him went from an often criticized injury prone power forward to the first line winger for the Niagara IceDogs. The first glance was that Wilson was brought in to be the bodyguard for the IceDog's star forward Ryan Strome.
In the playoffs, Wilson earned his contract by going 5-7-12 in the OHL playoffs. Wilson is someone who we believe is going to push Dale Weise out of a job as he does the same things as Weise only is younger and plays better defense.
8-Shane McColgan- Having watched McColgan score points in all 10 2011 WHL playoff games, we loved his upping his own ante. Going 8-11-19 now puts a bullseye on the Kelowna Rocket as he is going to be counted on to be their leading scorer as well as team leader period.
He may have been cut by the USA team this summer but we think McColgan might force his way back on to the team come December. He has to battle consistency as that is what has held him back but we have faith he will become consistent.
7-Scott Stajcer- Stajcer gets a spot here mainly because of the effort he put into getting back to the Owen Sound Attack lineup after hip surgery. We tell people to toss away what happened at the Memorial Cup as Stajcer came back ice cold after a foot infection playing for a team outmanned and devastated by injury.
Stajcer if not for his injuries would be talked about by everyone who does prospect reports for the Rangers. He was one of the top goalies when he was hurt; he was a top goalie in the OHL playoffs before he got hurt again.
6-Blake Parlett- Yep everyone is going "Who?" but Parlett is a second coming of Dan Girardi as the undrafted free agent earned himself a 2 year contract from the Rangers by working his way up to the AHL from the ECHL.
Parlett earns our love because he has now twice been given an opportunity and ran off with it. Wait until people start hearing about his "Rocky Balboa" off-season workouts and the lovefest will get larger.
5-Ryan Bourque- is without question the most unselfish prospect the Rangers have. Too unselfish as it costs him with those who do not realize that Bourque gives up his own game to help his team win.
Bourque forget his size, forget who daddy is and love how you do not want to face him when he is on the forecheck. We know Bourque can score but his value as a defensive forechecker leads to his being used on the 2nd or checking lines rather than being a first line player.
We can not wait to see Bourque teamed up with Carl Hagelin on a penalty kill.
4-Chris Kreider- another case of a prospect who puts the team ahead of personal goals and agenda. We have one criticism which is SHOOT THE PUCK CHRIS as we have seen that when Kreider shoots the puck at least 4 times a game he will put up points.
We also love how Kreider showed the courage of his own convictions by turning the Rangers down. Getting his education is important to him and he backed it up by saying no to the Rangers then taking a very heavy credit load this past summer.
Toss in coming back from a freak broken jaw 3 weeks before anyone had projected tells us about the fire inside of him. And for those of you who question his hockey IQ then remember this
You can not teach someone to make a play like this and we expect that his junior season will be his coming out party.
3-Christian Thomas- OK when you are 5'8 then you are always going to have a place for someone your own size. Then when you see that person who can score from any spot on the ice and you like him that much more.
Gordie Clark says Thomas has an NHL shot but what he left out that Thomas turned up his game at crunch time. We want to see him mature into his body before the Rangers unleash him on the NHL.
There is no question that Thomas is going to be able to score as we think Martin St. Louis when we watch him but you know his passing skills are greatly underrated. Here is your weapon folks and when he teams with Derek Stepan in a couple of years watch out.
2-Carl Hagelin- For 4 years I have watched a love affair between the "Swedish Chef" and the loyal fans at Yost Arena where the Michigan Wolverines play. When you can get entire crowds to be chanting your name you are doing something.
Here is why we love Carl Hagelin as no Ranger prospect has been as big a clutch player as Carl Hagelin.
This one is one of his best moments as he scores the game tying goal then the game winner both with seconds remaining.
Carl Hagelin will not surprise us at all if he makes the Rangers out of training camp as we say 2.9 seconds remember that 2.9 seconds. Hagelin is going to have Ranger fans chanting his name when they watch him play.
1-Dylan McIlrath- I put him here because every year since Jeff Beukeboom was forced to retire, I have called for a defensive stopper. Here he is and Jeff Beukeboom would give his approval.
How can you not like a player who his mere presence forces teams to change how they attack. Watched Medicine Hat refuse to go down his side of the ice after 2 clean body checks.
Do not even think you can touch a McIlrath teammate as he will be on you in a second. Have watched teams think twice about taking the body when McIlrath was out there.
And then there is the gentle giant giving up his Friday night so he can read to first graders. Then how can you not like a guy who every time he drops the gloves is called one of the toughest in the WHL.
And we saved the best for last as since the middle of last season, McIlrath as been working on his shot. It is a heavy almost dangerous shot that is going to either create rebounds or injure anyone trying to block his shot.
They will try once to block it then will get out of the way.
Hope this provides you with a moment or two of distraction from what you are going through back east.
Well we wanted to see how Samuel Noreau's Baie-Comeau Drakkar did against the Rimouski Oceanic in the 2nd half of their "home and home" after losing a tough one. Saturday night was an even bigger heartbreaker.
The Drakkar got the game's first goal then surrendered 3 straight to trail 3-1 in the 3rd. It looked like it was over but the Drakkar fought back to tie the game at 18:22.
But sadly the Oceanic pushed in the game winner with just 8 seconds remaining to earn a 4-3 win. Noreau had quiet night almost invisible but it is still early in the pre-season.
The one thing we have learned about the Drakkar is they are their own worst enemy as they have lapses where they just do not play well and it costs them.
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