Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Relax the kids will be alright

(New York Rangers)
It must be frustrating for those New York Ranger fans not having the NHL because of the lockout. And it may be even more frustrating for those who normally would be talking about the Rangers on their blogs or website.

I can understand that up to a point because when the NHL resumes play then most won't even bother talking about the Ranger prospects where they play in the AHL or anywhere else. But what is frustrating to me, someone who covers the prospects lockout or not is the endless speculation about players that most people would not even know if they crossed paths on the street.

So let me cut to the chase here and make this point perfectly clear:

The kids are doing fine and just like developing NHL players they will have their ups and downs.

But can we correct some mistaken impressions?

Jesper Fast signed a 2 year extension with HV71 and THEN signed a future NHL contract with the Rangers. Fast is 20 and still growing into his body so let him spend the next 2 seasons working on his game before he comes to North America.

Oscar Lindberg is also 20 and yes offensively he is having a breakout year in the SEL. There is no need to rush his development just because he is having one good season.

Let him fine tune his 2 way game in the SEL and like Fast grow more into his body so he can handle the wear and tear of the NHL. The Rangers are not in a rush to bring either prospect over so relax and enjoy that these are promising prospects.

Calle Andersson is playing for 2 teams at the same time; he is playing for Färjestad in the SEL and he is also playing for the Farjestad Under-20 squad that plays in the SuperElit.

If you want to go by stats then Andersson is have 2 seasons as he has not registered a point in the SEL but has put up 7-6-13 while playing for the junior team. This is not a knock on Andersson but he is not even close to beginning his journey to the NHL as he first needs to show he can produce in the SEL.

The exact same thing could be said about Thomas Spelling who quite honestly I think he should have come over to North America and played in the Canadian Juniors not play in Sweden. His former teammate Oliver Bjorkstrand is playing for the Portland Winterhawks and his development is moving at rocket speed.

Right now I would say Bjorkstrand will be a early 3rd maybe a late 2nd round pick in the 2013 NHL draft. Not a knock on Spelling but until he too shows that he can produce at the higher level then he is not lighting anything but the Swedish junior level up.

Michael St. Croix to the fans looks like he is off to a great start statwise but actually St. Croix is just beginning to play like he should be doing. Remember the Gordie Clark mantra of a prospect needs to dominate at the level he is playing at before advancing to the next level.

Come back and look at St. Croix in December and you should see a better player. The numbers he is producing is not reflecting of the player he needs to be.

Want to know who really are the current breakout players among the Ranger prospects? Try Samuel Noreau of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL for starters as nobody is even mentioning him.

You should as the one time goon is now playing 2 way hockey, he is wearing an "A" on his jersey and is being used in all situations by his coach. Give Noreau credit as while he will never be a Brian Leetch, I would give Noreau an AHL contract and let Jeff Beukeboom work with him.

The Rangers just might get themselves a solid 3rd pair defenseman who is 6'5 225 out of a 5th round pick. Just let him play his way up the ladder.

Cristoval "Boo" Nieves is getting more attention for his game than his cute nickname. 3 games in and Nieves has already set up 2 game winning goals.

Nobody said a word about Nieves being a playmaker but he is impressing the heck out of me with his very high hockey IQ. His on-ice vision, his ability to read plays and even better his very quick decision making process is what is the fans should be looking for.

Brady Skjei is playing on a very loaded Minnesota Golden Gopher team. He is a freshman playing on a team that many see as a possible NCAA champion.

Don't look for his numbers but rather look to see where Skjei is on the depth chart. Right now Skjei is a 6-7 which is kind of where you expect a freshman in his situation to be in.

The good news is he is playing for a guy who has sent many a player to the NHL. The better news is that Skjei is a very coachable prospect who will be able to work on his game every day.

Steven Forgarty is in the same kind of boat as yes he is the 4th line center for Notre Dame. Let him adjust to the NCAA level of competition before writing him off.

Really these kids will be alright down the road but it is the fans who need to stop worrying about whether or not the prospects will be OK. Seriously make the effort to watch these kids whether it is watching them on CBS Sports Network or the NBC Sports Network or spend the money to watch a webcast.

Another option would be to call MSG Networks and ask them to pick up the feed of Minnesota or Michigan games. Ask them to show the prospects on the tube and watch with your own eyes that the kids will be alright.

Just relax and stop worrying about their future.

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