The Rangers upper management sure has been busy this month. In all, the Rangers have signed six prospects out of the Canadian Juniors, with only one eligible player (Dan Maggio) remaining unsigned. Leslie Treff at HockeysFuture took an in-depth look at the nine prospects that the Rangers had in juniors, which includes the six signed and three unsigned (including Maggio). Treff predicts that only one player has a legitimate shot at making the club next year (Christian Thomas), while another top prospect (Dylan McIlrath) is likely headed back to Juniors.
It’s tough to disagree with Leslie here when it comes to where the prospects wind up. Due to age restrictions, Thomas is either going to play for the Rangers or return to the OHL. At the risk of repeating myself, I still think he makes the squad outright. McIlrath is also a lock to be returned to the WHL. As for the other players that signed (Ryan Bourque, Roman Horak, Scott Stajcer, Jason Wilson), all four will be spending at least one season with the CT Whale, as Leslie states in her article.
Where things get interesting are with Maggio, Randy McNaught, and Andrew Yogan. Treff states that Maggio likely will not be offered a contract, which means the Rangers rights to sign him will expire next week. I am a little disappointed to hear that, because once Maggio was traded to Oshawa (Thomas’ club), he showed vast improvement in his game. I was hoping he would be signed, and to be honest, I assumed he would be. However, it appears that the Rangers are done signing their prospects, which leaves him out of the bigger picture.
McNaught, who was initially drafted to be a tough guy for the Rangers, he suffered a sever ankle injury that required surgery. With last season being his over-age season in Canadian Juniors, he cannot return there next year. Treff states that he likely will not be given an entry level deal because of this.
As for Yogan, the Rangers will retain his rights for at least another year, as he was a 2010 draftee who was not in his overage year in the CHL. Yogan has talent, but his shoulder injury really hampered the Rangers decision making ability. He played well in his ATO with the CT Whale this year, registering three points in two games. With the Rangers approaching the 50 contract limit, there is no need to sign Yogan now, especially when there is a significant shoulder issue.
In regards to long-term development of these prospects, Thomas is the only one likely to be with the Rangers next season. McIlrath is also going to be a Ranger at some point (barring a significant trade). Stajcer’s path is blocked by Henrik Lundqvist, so the best case scenario is that he becomes either a viable backup for The King. Bourque, Horak, and Wilson will likely be in CT for at least a season and a half, possibly longer. None really project out to be top-six guys at the NHL level. It doesn’t mean they aren’t useful pieces though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them packaged in a bigger deal.