Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Inserting Round Peg Into Round Hole

For New York Ranger fans, Chris over at Blue Seat Blogs summed it up best when he wrote:

"What may be overseen in the impressive and promising rebuild, is the fact that the Rangers have not only drafted well, but have also built to suit a game plan"

On draft day the moves may not have looked liked they made a whole lot of sense but when you start looking at the bigger picture and look at how draft picks were selected to fill open holes or fix what they already had.

No other draft pick fits this game plan more than Dylan McIlrath, the Rangers 2010 first round pick who many a fan even today still questions why Cam Fowler was passed over for the more physical McIlrath.

That answer was because the Rangers already had Micheal Del Zotto and understood his defensive liabilities required someone who could cover up for those weaknesses. And yes Gordie Clark conceded that nobody with the Rangers had any idea that Del Zotto would slump like he did.

The Rangers have stopped with the "we are going to take the best available" mindset and now try to look at and for players who will mesh with what they have. No more of the trying to force square boxes into the round holes as the Rangers are going after players built to play the system that John Tortorella wants to use.

You can see that in picks like Chris Kreider who is supposed to be a speedy power forward who can be paired up with a playmaker like Derek Stepan and a sniper like Christian Thomas.

And yes there are going to be times when they just get flat out lucky as they did with the Fedotenko/Boyle/Prust line or the McDonagh/Sauer pairing. Being lucky does more to strengthen the argument to build the team from the blueline out; to look for players who will be able to mesh and improve the skills that their teammates have.

Sure it took forever before the Rangers realized that they could not just keep tossing money at a problem and thinking "this is how we fix things". It is going to drive all of us crazy trying to figure out what Gordie Clark and friends are going to do next but it seems they try to balance out the draft.

2011 the top of the draft was skill with some power then they went offensive skill before going back for physical size. Miller and Fogarty will require time but the sleeper of this draft just might be Ceresnak.

But because they turned 2 second round picks into Tim Erixon then this draft could be a winner before the 2011-2012 season is over. If 2 years ago that someone was going to tell you that the Rangers could have a blueline that included 4 NHL first round picks you would have laughed them all the way to Jersey (wait until McIlrath shows up to make it 5).

2010 was size and toughness as the theme with McIlrath, Yogan, Wilson and McNaught mixed in with Thomas for skill and Fasth for energy. Think the Rangers could come away with 5 players here with McNaught the only one who does not make it.

2009 was basically all skill players other than Maggio who was not signed and Pashnin who will remain in Russia for a while longer. Turning Werek into Lindberg who addresses faceoffs has to be a plus

2008 is where everything began but it also was where the learning pains came from too as Del Zotto, Stepan, and Grachev were all great ideas but the mistakes of rushing prospects are crystal clear with the slump of Del Zotto and the exit of Grachev. Kundratek and Weise remain with promise to give them 5 players out of a draft.

All these players going to turn into superstar players? No in fact what you have here really is a blueprint for a roster that is built to compliment each other.

The one thing that stands out is that because this is a roster meant to build an entire team then if one part does not fit then you can address that individual part sooner than later.

That works for us.


If you are a Ranger fan who does not live where they can get MSG then we got some good news this evening when we were able to confirm that in the USA the NHL Network will be covering the Ranger prospect games live from Traverse City.

We are told it will be the Ranger MSG feed so all the stuff the Rangers have said they would do other than pre and post game shows will be seen.

A shame that the NHL does not realize that they have an audience begging for live hockey not repeats of the 2011 playoffs otherwise they would televise all of Traverse City as well as the Vancouver prospect's tournament.

(McIlrath courtesy of the Moose Jaw Warriors)

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