Wednesday, March 20, 2013

To sign or not to sign

Brenden Kichton (Spokane Chiefs)
It is that time of the year as New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects in the playoffs but for some the bigger question is do I sign or do I say no? For the teams they, too have to decide whether or not to offer contracts to their prospects especially for those selected in the 2011 NHL draft.

One prospect has reportedly already made up his mind and that is Brenden Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) of the Spokane Chiefs. According to a "tweet" from Arthur Staples of Newsday, Kichton turned down the Islander's contract offer.

I don't know Staples so I am not going to say one way or another how valid this report is especially when Kichton himself posted this "tweet" of his own.

I will agree with Kichton about not knowing the circumstances but since I don't and Kichton isn't going to tell then what is left is only speculation. In that case I will say that unless the Islanders really made a bad contract offer then Kichton in my eyes is making a mistake.

Very few prospects who choose to re-enter the NHL Entry Draft wind up in a better situation than they were before. Most actually wind up in worse spots because the NHL GMs hold all the cards and players like Kichton have zero leverage.

How much a prospect is going to make is already decided thanks to the NHLPA/NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement. And having already used his overage year in the WHL, Kichton by choosing to re-enter the NHL Entry Draft will be at the mercy of whoever drafts him.

I will say on Kichton's behalf that he did earn himself an NHL level contract with his play over the last 2 years and despite what Islander fans and bloggers might think; Kichton not signing with them is a bigger loss than they think it is. For starters, there isn't an Islander defensive prospect who offers the kind of offensive firepower that Kichton does.

Please don't say Matt Donovan as Donovan isn't anywhere near as lethal on the power play as Kichton is nor is any other Islander prospect with perhaps the exception of Calvin de Haan. de Haan though can't seem to stay healthy to find out.

Since I am already talking about the Islanders and what Arthur Staple wrote then another item that came to my attention was this article and mainly this part:

The end of the NCAA hockey season is near, with conference tournaments this weekend and the NCAA tournament beginning in two weeks. The Islanders have an eye on the college hockey ranks, waiting for two of their top prospects to finish their seasons and possibly turn pro.

Anders Lee is wrapping his junior year at Notre Dame, and the Islanders are hoping the big forward will turn pro after spurning their offer following the 2011-12 college season. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Lee had 18 goals and 17 assists entering Saturday's action; it's a decent possibility that he would join the Islanders immediately if he signs.

University of Denver defenseman Scott Mayfield, a 6-4, 205-pound sophomore, is also in very much in the Isles' plans. He had 17 points and 110 penalty minutes entering Saturday's games.

Anders Lee is a 2009 6th round pick who is built more like a linebacker than a hockey player. Lee is the captain of the Notre Dame team as well as their leading scorer.

I don't blame the Islanders for wanting Lee to leave Notre Dame and turn pro as he would give the Islanders a pure power forward. Lee has been the guy who has made the plays when Notre Dame has needed them the most.

This might be another case where a prospects says no to the Islanders but in Lee's case for a different reason. If Lee is on pace to earn his degree early like Chris Kreider did then one can see him leaving but if not then Lee might stay to finish his degree.

A Notre Dame degree goes a long way in the non-sports world and Lee who tore his ACL during his senior year in high school(my mistake he didn't tear his ACL) might want to insure he has something to fall back on just in case. I don't think Lee is fully NHL ready but I do think he is ready to turn professional and speed up his development.

I doubt that the Islanders would sign Lee and have him join them right off the bat as Notre Dame is headed to the NCAA tournament and it wouldn't be a surprise for the Fighting Irish to play their way to the Frozen Four which doesn't start until April 11th.

Seriously can't see the Islanders willing to burn a year of Lee's entry level contract for less than 10 regular season games and a playoff round if they got that far.

Scott Mayfield (NYI 2011 2nd) on the other hand is not ready to leave school after his sophomore season at Denver. Don't look at the 108 penalty minutes as a means of judging him as ready but actually look the other way instead.

108 PIMs at the NCAA level is not something to view as a positive considering how Mayfield did it in just 38 games. The Islanders also have plenty of "stay at home" defenders on Long Island and in Bridgeport so why rush him?

Mayfield turns 21 in October, he still needs work on his body and any more offense he can add to his game would be a huge bonus. Mayfield plays for George Gwozdecky who has done a pretty good job sending defensemen into the pros so let Mayfield get all the practice time he would get at Denver and perhaps more importantly save a year on his entry level contract.

The other Islander prospect that a decision needs to be made on is Mitchell Theoret (2011 7th) of the Barrie Colts. Theoret has had a breakout season splitting the season with Barrie and Niagara of the OHL registering 25-35-60 during the regular season.

Theoret is a coach's dream player as he is willing to play any place the coach needs him to help the team. Need a checker, need a protector, need a guy to eat up minutes or anything else you could think of and Theoret is your guy.

Theoret showed he could play with anyone whether it was Ryan Strome or Mark Scheifele both top NHL prospects. Theoret will get a contract but whether it comes from the Islanders or someone else nobody knows for sure.

Don't expect the Islanders to sign any of their 2012 class until the fall but of the 2011 class still unsigned is Andrey Pedan (2011 3rd) who despite his lack of on-ice discipline has shown plenty of reasons why he should be signed.

The "loose cannon" has shown that when he has his head on right that he is a talented 2 way defender. He has a nice accurate shot from the point as well as the smarts to play either a physical or finesse game.

Pedan will also drop the gloves if you touch one of his teammates which will make up for his "loose cannon" reputation. It will be interesting to see where Pedan is in 2-3 years as if he matures then the Islanders will have the makings of a very talented blueline.

As for the New York Rangers who have 3 draft picks from the 2011 draft that they need to make decisions on starting with Shane McColgan (2011 5th) of the Saskatoon Blades. Now the Rangers signed McColgan's linemate Josh Nicholls to a free agent contract so what about McColgan?

Adam Graves was quoted as calling McColgan "one of the fastest skaters in the WHL."

In that article Graves made a case for the Rangers to sign McColgan and if McColgan was 6'2 like Josh Nicholls is then we would not be talking about whether or McColgan deserves a contract. But McColgan is a very generous 5'9 and the Rangers already have 3 prospects that are McColgan's size.

The difference between McColgan and those 3 is despite his size; McColgan has shown he can play a physical game and don't run one of his linemates. Ironic that here is the 5'9 McColgan responding to somebody hitting 6'2 Josh Nicholls.

The first time Ranger fans see McColgan dropping his gloves to protect a teammate will be all it takes for him to become a favorite. When McColgan isn't fighting, he happens to be a solid playmaker leading the Saskatoon Blades with 47 assists (20th in the WHL).

Shane McColgan also has a supporter in his coach Lorne Molleken who happens to be an old friend of Glen Sather. Does it translate into a contract for McColgan?

The teachings of Gordie Clark ask has the prospect improved from draft day to present time? McColgan has not seen his offensive numbers jump up but he has become a more responsible player in his own zone. An AHL contract seems to be McColgan's best bet with the Rangers.

Samuel Noreau (2011 5th) is a 6'5 215 defender with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL who has made the most improvement of the Ranger prospects. When drafted Noreau was coming off a season where he was the 3rd pair defender with 17 fights but this season saw Noreau wearing a letter and playing on both special team units.

Noreau is not going to become the next Brian Leetch but considering the lack of depth that the Rangers have on the blueline then here is another AHL contract that you take a risk with. The saying is "they don't teach size" and at best you have a 3rd pair NHL defender.

But if Noreau helps the Rangers buy time in the system for Brady Skjei and others to develop without rushing them then it is a risk worth taking.

On the other hand there is Peter Ceresnak (2011 6th) who was stuck in a bad situation with the Peterborough Petes during his 2 year stay with them. It hurt Ceresnak's development as the Petes for the most part were a mess with players jumping ship left and right.

It is hard to see the Rangers offering Ceresnak any kind of contract when there wasn't any serious improvement over the 2 years in Peterborough. Again none of this was of Ceresnak's making but sometimes that is how things wind up.

No contract for Ceresnak who might not even get an invite on an ATO with the CT Whale.

As for the rest of the Ranger prospects, only Steven Fogarty (2011 3rd), Brady Skjei (2012 1st) and Cristoval Nieves (2012 2nd) are in the US but all 3 are playing at the NCAA level. Don't see any of them leaving school after just 1 year to sign with the Rangers.

Expect the Rangers to start inviting free agent prospects to play for the CT Whale after this weekend when the NCAA field will be down to just 16 teams. The Rangers haven't invited many players from the Canadian juniors in on ATOs in recent years preferring to wait until the annual prospect camp in July.


DPP said...

You need to get your facts correct on Anders Lee. He did NOT tear his ACL his senior season at Edina. I'll give you a hint: he's currently the captain of gophers

Jess Rubenstein said...

You are right I made a mistake; thanks for the correction.