Everyone talks about Grachev, Kreider, Stepan, McDonagh and Sanguinetti and rightly so –they’re all important prospects but given the Rangers (lengthy) list of needs one of the prospects that may help the Rangers the most is Canadian Junior, Ethan Werek. Considered first round worthy in his draft year the Rangers were fortunate to have him slip to 47th overall in the ‘09 draft where they gratefully accepted this talented pivot. At 6’2 and 200lbs Werek is a physically sound center that can play both center and wing. Not afraid to use his body Werek could help the Rangers down the middle with his size, style of play and scoring ability.
With a knack for scoring (30 and 32 goals in two years in the OHL, on a young side too) Werek has proven he can fill the net. Better still, Werek has shown development; the left shooting Kingston Frontenac’s player has gone from -5 as a rookie to +14.Werek only didn’t top his career best 64 points because of injury however he reached the same total in 9 fewer games this year. His first playoff exposure on an inexperienced Frontenac’s team this spring saw Werek score 5 points in 6 games playing good 2 way hockey along the way. All good signs.
What may be best for Werek’s development right now is his head coach. Ex Leafs legend Dougie Gilmour left the AHL Marlies to take over in Kingston and since then the team has shown improvement and Werek himself has certainly improved. Not afraid to go to the net or try a fancy move Werek appears to be equally comfortable looking for a rebound or with the puck on his blade. He accepts responsibility on the ice and that trait will serve him well if when he gets to NY.
Some people have been touting Werek to have an inside chance at cracking the roster this summer. With Derek Stepan signed and experience sought, that may be unlikely but not beyond possibility. Werek’s intention is to come to camp and have a good crack. With his size and ability making the team isn’t out of the question and the Rangers should take a long look at him and give him every chance to succeed. Depending on how the 2010 draft goes Werek could find a spot in the line up. With Tortorella’s preference for Dubinsky on the wing, Prospal being equally adept wide and with Drury also being given time on the flank should Werek leave a positive impression one has to feel a roster spot is there for the taking. A lot of variables to contend with but it’s not beyond him.
At this stage of his career Werek is already looking like a good pick, at worst, helping the Rangers depth for the future. Less touted than those mentioned above, he may well leave his mark quicker than expected. Prospect dark horse? Why not?