Thursday, February 16, 2012

Winning ugly losing uglier

Only two games on the schedule involving New York Ranger prospects and boy these were stinkers. It is very disappointing to see too many of these kinds of games at this time of the year.

Yes we know it's been a long season and yes these kids are tired, some are worn out but welcome to the world of hockey. This is the time of year where contracts are earned, careers made or lost but most importantly it is the time of the year where you show how bad you want that NHL career.

JT Miller (NYR 2011 1st) and his Plymouth Whalers are leading the OHL's West Division but their play as of late has not been the kind of play one expects from a team that has championship dreams on their mind. The Whalers to their credit are finding ways to win even if the effort looks terrible.

Against the Windsor Spitfires, the Whalers were outplayed, outsmarted and in all honesty should have lost but they managed to defeat the Spitfires 4-3. Miller had a secondary assist on Plymouth's 3rd goal of the game as well as a fight.

For Miller, the assist brings his stats to 21-35-56 while extending his current scoring streak to 5 games (2-5-7). That moves him past Shane McColgan into 3rd place among Ranger prospect scorers.

We need to correct our fighting majors list as Dylan McIlrath leads with 8 fights, Miller and Samuel Noreau are tied with 6 fights and then Shane McColgan has 4.

While Miller and Company have pretty much punched their ticket for the OHL playoffs unless efforts improve big time then it will be a very short playoff run. On the other side there are two Ranger prospects whose team is doing a pretty good job of playing the way out even making the playoffs. We are talking of Andrew Yogan (NYR 2010 3rd) and Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) of the Peterborough Petes.

The Peterborough Petes are just falling apart and while a case can be made about losing your best defensemen as well as having your leading scorer basically walk out the door; in the end nobody will remember that. The players that were left for the Petes need to realize that they are in a position where losing games to the last place Kingston Frontenacs is unacceptable.

But that's exactly what happened Thursday night as the Petes lost at home to the Frontenacs 5-4. It was the 3rd straight loss for the Petes who find themselves sitting in 8th place of the OHL's Eastern Conference.

To make matters worse for the Petes is that of the 4 teams fighting for the last 3 playoff spots in Eastern Conference, the Petes have played the most games. For Andrew Yogan his play depending on who you listen to has been solid or selfish but we can't criticize Yogan because when we look up he is producing.

Selfish or not, Yogan knows that his hopes of a Ranger contract rest upon how he plays in these final games for the Petes. For Yogan who is an overage player there is no next year at the Junior level for him.

Against the Frontenacs, Yogan had a primary assist (his 26th) as well as his 27th goal of the season. On the surface we're seeing Yogan has points in 7 out of his last 8 games (4-6-10) but the question now is what do the Rangers see?

There's no question that Yogan has offensive talent as well as good size (6'3 200) but it's in the other areas where the questions about Yogan begin. Yogan has baggage and not the kind of baggage a prospect wants to carry.

Yogan's case will be helped or hurt by the man who is coaching him right now Mike Pelino who in case you forgot once worked for Glen Sather. We won't kid ourselves that Glen Sather used a favor or two to get the Petes to trade for Yogan (as well as use a pick in the CHL Import Draft on Ceresnak).

Right now if we were making the decision we would give Yogan an AHL contract for next season not an NHL one. The 3 year NHL entry level contract we believe would not make Yogan hungry enough to show that he wants to be an NHL player.

Andrew Yogan has the right to reject that kind of offer but he would be taking it very big gamble that somebody else would offer him the NHL entry level contract. History has shown that players who were not signed by their drafting teams typically don't get NHL contracts without having another year of Junior to prove themselves.

That's why Yogan right now should be playing as if the current game he is playing could be his very last. Don't get us wrong we want Yogan to make it because nothing is more frustrating been seeing a talented prospect not make it.

As for Ceresnak, in many ways the game Thursday night kind of summed up how his second half of his rookie season has gone Ceresnak was a -1 but he took a hooking penalty in the third that led to the game-winning goal.

He is a project who needs a lot of work which is something the Rangers knew when they drafted him. His skating needs work and it will be interesting to see whether he stays in North America to work on his game or go home to work on his game.

Friendly advice to the young man, the Rangers training facility offers Ceresnak more training options than he will find in Slovakia. There is also a crazy former Ranger defenseman who lives down the road who has shown a willingness to help teach fellow Europeans the ways of North American hockey.


Our feature on 15-year-old Devin Williams of the Erie Otters was popular as it was but we think the young man is about to get more popular with Ranger fans. We got a tweet from Paul Roper who happens to be the Media Relations Manager for the Erie Otters.

It goes like this:

Devin Williams' favorite goalie? Henrik Lundqvist. He's a late-1995 which means #NYR is ripe to select the future G in '14.

We knew the kid was talented, we knew he was mature for his age but we didn't know he was that smart. 2014 would be a very good year to pick the future goalie of the Rangers. Our thanks to Paul Roper and to Victor Fernandes for helping fill in the blanks about this rather special young goalie.

New York Islander fans the story on John Persson (NYI 2011 5th) is that he has an upper body injury and the Red Deer Rebels hope to have him back in their lineup tomorrow.

(Miller - Aaron Bell of OHL Images)

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