Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The "What Ifs"

It was interesting to read the email that mentioned New York Ranger prospect Ryan Bourque as one of the 89 QMJHL players invited to attend NHL training camps. Bourque who played for Quebec last season is not even listed on the current roster of the Remparts but that opens up the "What If's?"

Nobody likes having to do this but it is a part of the planning stage of the game especially when you are trying to put together not only the best Ranger team but also what is best for the CT Whale and whoever you assign to the ECHL Greenville Road Warriors.

For Bourque, we are very sure this is a subject that he does not even want to think about but we have to.  It is also highly unlikely that Bourque would find himself sent back to the QMJHL unless he totally bombs out at Traverse City as well as the CT Whale training camp.

The chance though remains however remote and has to be looked at just in case. The last thing the Rangers would want to do is put Bourque into a position where his development would be held back.

At worst we can see Bourque playing in the ECHL for the Greenville Road Warriors who the Rangers share with the Philadelphia Flyers. What we do not want to see happen to Bourque would be playing for a bad QMJHL team (a very little chance of that happening) but once the Rangers return a player to their CHL team then they have little say in what they do with said prospect.

The only other prospect who could find himself back in the OHL for his overage season is Scott Stajcer and in his case it might be a numbers game not his play that makes that decision. Stajcer is coming off an injury filled season as it is but is 1 of 4 goalies battling for what appears to be just 3 spots.

Think it is safe to say that Marty Biron and Henrik Lundqvist have the Ranger goalies spots taken care of. That leaves Stajcer, Chad Johnson, Cam Talbot and Jason Missiaen fighting it out for 2 spots with the CT Whale and 1 spot (maybe) with the Greenville Road Warriors.

Not sure why the Rangers who showed almost no confidence at all in Chad Johnson when he was called up to replace Biron after Biron was injured resigned him anyway. Johnson as well as Talbot were both out played by an journeyman goalie who turned out to be the Whale's MVP.

This is where spending a little extra and having a goalie coach/consultant who can help out as many NHL teams are doing comes in. Johnson is on a 1 year deal so he is in a way more on the bubble than Stajcer is but again it is the "looking at" part.

Injury to Henrik or Marty and the Rangers will need a doorman/mop up guy until they either get healthy or a legit replacement is found. We can see the Rangers taking Johnson with them to Europe to handle the exhibition games and emergency back up but after that we are not sure.

Cam Talbot had his own issues staying healthy but at least when he played he was not all that bad for a first year goalie. Think he goes into camp as the CT Whale starter but once camp starts everything is wide open.

The 4th member of this goalie competition is Jason Missiaen who is the pet project of goalie coach Beniot Allaire. We can see a 3 man rotation with someone going down to Greenville to get playing time but with 4 goalies then you have a small problem.

That is where Stajcer having the overage year could come in to play but his problem then would be just like Bourque's which is where he would wind up playing. Stajcer's rights belong to the OHL's Owen Sound Attack but the Attack appear to be already set in goal and already have 3 overage players on their roster.

Right now the teams in the OHL are addressing their goalie needs which does not help someone like Stajcer. It is not uncommon these days for an overage goalie having to move to another league as was the case for Jacob De Serres who lucked out and wound up in the Memorial Cup.

The hope of course remains that Stajcer outplays everyone at camp and earns the CT Whale job forcing the Rangers to move someone.  But that is why we have to play the "What If's?"

It is not trying to be negative but rather planning ahead so if the worst does happen then you have options.


No news to report on from the training camps but exhibition games will be getting underway this weekend and expect all prospects to get in at least 1 game this weekend. The Rangers and Islanders are crossing fingers hoping nobody gets hurt.

We are doing the same.

(Stajcer courtesy Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

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