Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Signed, sealed, delivered

Courtesy HV71
It was a good day to be a Swedish prospect of the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders as two young men signed their entry-level contracts.

For the Rangers, 2010 sixth round pick Jesper Fast of HV71 signed what I believe to be a future contract with the Rangers and it is a very good signing. Fast as you may have read by now is a very talented young prospect who has helped his own cause over the last couple of seasons with some very good performances.

Those of you who've read this place already know about Fast's return from a broken ankle from our friends in Sweden. But if you haven't had the pleasure of watching him play then here is a video from May, which highlights some of the goals Fast scored.

I disagree with those who say that Fast will be just a role player because I have watched him over the last couple of years and his development curve is on the same level as Carl Hagelin. It would be best for Fast to spend another season, perhaps two with HV71 to allow his body to fill out.

On HV71, Fast plays with one-time Ranger Jason Krog (all 9 games) but it's a good mentor for Fast to have. Love his hands but what tells me that Fast will be more than a role player is to go back to the video and see how Fast reads plays knowing when to head to the net and when to set up others.

Still my main concern has to be thinking about how the Rangers botched Mats Zuccarello's time with them. Having patience is important, especially with the younger prospect whose body needs to catch up to his hockey sense.

Red Deer Rebels
The New York Islanders picked up a solid player who, while he is Swedish chose to come over to North America to improve his chances at becoming an NHL player. John Persson was the first of two 5th round picks the Islanders had in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Persson played for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL for the last 3 seasons. A 6'2 215 left-winger who put 23-35-58 last season for Red Deer and was one of the very few players on injury riddled team to play 70 games last season.

Persson was doubly tough as I know of at least two occasions where he played despite injuries because his team was so shorthanded. Red Deer didn't make the playoffs which actually worked out for Persson as as he joined the Islanders AHL team in Bridgeport and put up a respectable 4-4-8 in 12 games.

Persson isn't fast (not a pun) compared to most Swedish skaters but he plays with a bit of snarl in his game which the Islanders could use a little bit more of. I think Persson is going to benefit from a full season in the AHL but at the same time would not be shocked if by midseason, he gets a couple of call ups to fill in for injuries.

Upside is very good, scorer with power moves, not afraid to play north/south, good smarts and not afraid to drop the gloves if he has to.

Portland Winterhawks
There are times where you see a player who you say you got a roll the dice on when you have a late round pick. In 2010 when the Rangers were still lacking in goalie depth there was a rookie goalie for the Portland Winterhawks who made the jump from the NAHL to the WHL by the name of Mac Carruth.

His numbers were not earth shattering, but you could see a form and a player who just needed playing time to get better. In the seventh round, this was a player worth taking but the Rangers picking at 190 selected Randy McNaught a WHL journeyman enforcer.
Before I could even say what a bad pick this was; the Chicago Blackhawks with the very next pick at 191 grabbed Carruth.

The Rangers wound up with a player who broke his ankle in his 8th game of the 2010-2011 season then broke it again trying to rehab it ending his season. The Rangers brought him to Traverse City and even offered him a contract which was actually very generous of them considering the circumstances.

McNaught turned them down choosing to attend school but he left school after 12 games and accepted the Rangers contract offer. McNaught was assigned to the CT Whale (1 game) who in turn assigned him to the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL (4 games).

Greenville sent him to Missouri of the CHL where he finished the season playing in 15 games with three assists and 38 PIMs. Let's just say that I would advise you not to bet money on McNaught playing on Broadway.

All Mac Carruth did after being drafted for Portland was rewrite the Portland record book in leading the Winterhawks to two consecutive WHL final appearances. if you want to look at just one play of Carruth's then this is it.

Mac Carruth signed an entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday and I will bet you that Carruth has a better chance at making the NHL than Randy McNaught has making it back to the ECHL.

Yes, you can make a case that I have a bias when it comes to Portland Winterhawk players but in this case, Carruth is exactly what his nickname is "The Truth."

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