Monday, August 1, 2011

This Way To Traverse City

OK now that we have gotten all the distractions out of the way it is time to start looking ahead to what should be a very interesting 2011 Traverse City tournament for the New York Ranger prospects.

While most want to look at JT Miller, we want to start by looking at what is the deepest position within the New York Rangers; the blueline corps.

If there was one area where Ranger fans can feel comfortable then here we are as the Rangers have a very good young group of defensemen who can be summed up in two words; physical imposing.

The player that everyone will be watching will of course be Tim Erixon who will be making his North American debut after his rights were acquired from the Calgary Flames when they could not sign the son of former Ranger Jan Erixon.

The 23rd pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Erixon is going to bring a 6'3 205 lb body and the first thing those who know him well enough say is that his hockey sense is just as good as his defensive minded father despite Jan played forward.

We keep hearing a 2-way defender with offensive flair but as highly touted as Erixon is what he is not is better offensively than Michael Del Zotto. A smooth skater with strong fundamental skills, Erixon has a nice sneaky shot from the point but if we are John Tortorella the biggest challenge is to convince Erixon to fire away from the point.

Forget the differences in rink sizes, the biggest adjustment for Erixon is going to being a bit selfish. Europeans at times tend to look for the best possible play so Erixon has to avoid the "pass first" mindset he has been brought up with.

A lefty shot it is going to be interesting to see of the Rangers pair Erixon up with 2010 1st round pick Dylan Mcllrath. McIlrath has worked hard during the off-season to improve the accuracy of his shot.

Having seen the shot, McIlrath is going to hurt someone with the heavy shot he has. Even better is if McIlrath's accuracy has improved then his shot will generate plenty of garbage goals for his teammates.

McIlrath has also matured a bit into his body as well as worked on improving his footwork. And bad news for everyone else is that McIlrath just might be a much stronger player as his body has firmed up.

The second pairing should be interesting to see if the Rangers bring Mikhail Pashnin over from Russia for Traverse City as the 2009 7th pick has grown 2 inches to 6'1 but do the Rangers have a spot for him in the AHL?

Pashnin wants to sign a NHL deal with the Rangers very badly but unless the Rangers choose to carry 7 defenders and 13 forwards then where Pashnin winds up might just be back in the KHL for another year. If Pashnin does indeed play at Traverse City then expect him to make some noise.

Pashnin's offense is a couple years behind his defense but defensively our reports say he is more NHL ready than many people realize. Pashnin has to learn not to try to hit everything that comes within the range of his vision.

One thing though while people are giving Erixon and Del Zotto the lead in the race to the Ranger roster; DON'T count Pashnin out just yet. Our Russian friends say that Pashnin has been working since his first Ranger camp to become a Ranger.

Our experience has taught us that the X factor with prospects is how badly they want it and from all reports Pashnin wants it really bad.

In many ways his desire to become a Ranger is equal to the kind of drive that both Dubinsky and Callahan had when they were the prospects. You can call him a long-shot but Tortorella is going to fall in love with this prospect's fire and determination.

If it was us then we would pair Pashnin with Peter Ceresnak the Ranger's 2011 6th round pick. Ceresnak is ticketed for former Ranger Assistant coach Mike Pelino and his Peterborough Petes.

The Rangers gave up their 2012 6th round pick to be able to draft this 6'3 210 Slovakian defender. A righty shot who we think is ideal for Pashnin as a partner at Traverse City for no other reason that Pashnin would best be served with a partner who is focused on his defensive positioning.

Ceresnak has the NHL body but his footwork as well as his speed in making decisions is where he has to work the hardest. Mike Pelino is the perfect coach for Ceresnak during the regular season but our expectations for Ceresnak this year are on the low side as he adjusts to North American life.

Not a knock on Ceresnak as he will have some very good teachers in Peterborough but Traverse City is going to help Ceresnark learn the areas in which he has to improve his overall game.

Key thing we will be looking for out of Ceresnak is to show us some emotion and a bit of a nasty streak. Skinny is that he is a nice friendly guy but we want defenders not buddies here.

We expect a quiet Traverse City for Ceresnak which is not a bad thing as he does have a long list of things to learn. This is a project player who has a high reward low risk potential going for him.

The 3rd pair is also going to be interesting as 6'5 210 Samuel Noreau will be one part of the pair as the 2011 5th round pick but who the Rangers bring to Traverse City is the big question.

But first Noreau is a righty shot who in all honesty was playing on a very bad Baie-Comeau Drakkar int the QMJHL. Noreau was 4th in the QMJHL for fighting majors with 17 (4 more than Dylan McIlrath) and 7th in PIMs with 141 (McIlrath had 153).

Nothing against Noreau but right now it is hard to view him as a serious prospect given where he played and what he specialized in. Right now we are leaning towards Blake Partlett as the 2nd year professional as his career path is almost identical to Dan Girardi's.

An undrafted free agent who started his career in ECHL with the Greenville Warriors but earned a promotion to the CT Whale. Worked hard enough to earn himself a 2 year entry level deal from the Rangers.

Hard working player who put up respectable number for both the Warriors as well as the CT Whale. We want to see him push past some of the other CT Whale defensemen before giving Parlett any kind of serious consideration.

We also expect the Rangers to bring in at least 1 free agent defender for a look (or as a favor to CHL franchise) just in case. But Traverse City for the Ranger prospects begins with the blueline prospects as we seriously do see 3 very possible NHLers in McIlrath, Erixon and Pashnin and 1 good gamble in Ceresnak.

Tomorrow The Forwards

(Cerensnak courtesy of the New York Rangers)


Kmp said...

Can't wait to see them all. I like Parlett good with the puck, should benefit from a full year in CT.

I want to see Klassen play, may not be flashy always has a very good +-.

They have 10 Dmen with CT potential, 11 if you include Pashnin. Have to figure some get moved.

Sioux-per-man said...

Great post. Can't wait to add MSG to my direct TV bill :).

Jess Rubenstein said...


Klassen is also going to give you the lower the boom check of the night. Maybe the marriage bug will help him like it did Sauer.

Someone is going to be "loaned" to another team but I have a good feeling about Pashnin and would not be shocked if he pushes Erixon and MDZ


Direct gave me 3 free months of the sports package but that was before they announced the TC games would be televised.

DUH I traded it in for 3 months of showtime