Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Doing some (CT) Whale watching (Part 2)

Steve Delisle (NHLmedia.com)
If you are going to look at the roster of the New York Ranger's AHL team, the CT Whale and think that there is not a lot of promising young talent; you would be right and wrong.

The roster (found right here) may not be loaded up with "elite" prospects as other NHL teams but you are not looking at the entire picture. Prospects who would have been on this roster aren't in part because they have already developed into Rangers or became parts that were used elsewhere.

It goes back to the 2008 NHL Entry draft, Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan are already Rangers. In their case it was a couple of years ahead of what would have been a normal prospect developmental curve; Evgeny Grachev has been turned in Steven Forgarty.

2009 is represented by Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque and Scott Stajcer on the Whale, Ethan Werek has been turned into Oscar Lindberg (playing in Sweden), and Roman Horak was turned first into Tim Erixon and then Rick Nash. The going rate in today's NHL is to get at least 1 regular contributor to the lineup so Nash and Kreider make the draft a winner.

2010 will have Dylan McIlrath (upon getting healthy), Christian Thomas, Andrew Yogan and Jason Wilson in the Whale training camp. One can't complain about that many prospects especially when you consider that 3 of them have legit shot at one day becoming NHLers.

Toss in Jesper Fast who is already signed but playing in Europe to make it 4 out of 5 possible. Only Randy McNaught is not viewed as a long term prospect.

2011 will be represented at Whale camp by J.T. Miller while Steven Fogarty attends Notre Dame and Michael St. Croix spends the season already signed but also wearing a WHL championship ring. You have 3 question marks in Samuel Noreau, Shane McColgan and Peter Ceresnak but they have a year to show if they can develop.

While it is way too soon to even think about the 2012 draft class but the Rangers added Marek Hrivik and Kyle Jean during the off-season. Free agent prospects only cost you money so if you can turn them into players it is an added bonus.

Questions you want answers for

Is the lockout a good thing or a bad thing for the Rangers and their prospects?

It is really a good thing if the entire NHL season is lost as the prospects can develop at their own natural pace rather than rushed to the NHL. But if the lockout ends at half season then the Rangers might have some depth issues if they get hit by an injury bug.

Which younger players have the most pressure on them?

Both Ryan Bourque and Christian Thomas as the NHL is back to the mindset of "the taller the better." The biggest (no pun intended) obstacle that both players face is earning the confidence of John Tortorella who as witnessed by Mats Zuccarello could never earn that faith because of his size.

Which prospect might benefit by the lockout?

Andrew Yogan because he has the size and the skill that if he can show maturity on the ice could steal a roster spot when the NHL comes back. That size and skill translates into a player who can go end to end on the rush and finish with a goal.

Yogan has all the makings of a power forward but it is up to Yogan if he can mature.

Which of the goalies could wind up dressing in the NHL?

That Marty Biron was given a new 2 year deal makes you wonder if the Rangers think Cam Talbot can play in the NHL. Scott Stajcer has the most skill but was his development damaged by the last 2 years is the question he needs to answer.

If Stajcer starts the season in Greenville of the ECHL then I would say the Rangers think so. Whichever goalie is the AHL backup might be the odd man out.

Who should we watch Marek Hrivik or Kyle Jean?

Hrivik in my eyes has more natural skill than Jean does. Not to disrespect Jean but Hrivik has already shown that he can elevate his game in the playoffs.

Jean is going to be more known as the "guy who took out the Truck (McIlrath)" rather than what he does on the ice. Jean can move up the depth chart faster if he can use that size to do damage on the power play by setting up shop in the crease.

Anything else?

Because other NHL teams have loaded their AHL rosters with a lot more talent; Ranger fans should not read anything into what the CT Whale won/loss record is. A winning season would actually be a bonus as the goal has to be get Miller and Kreider ready when(if) there is a NHL season.

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