Earlier this week we posted the first part of our discussion with Brian Ring and Bob Crawford from the CT Whale. Both men discussed the Connecticut Whale future as well as the prospects that could make their way to the Rangers. Today we have the second part of the discussion with the final part coming in the next few days. Brian and Bob make some really interesting comments throughout the interview and give some attention to some prospects that a lot of readers may not have on their radars for the coming season. Happy reading.
Which prospect do you think has the most to prove at training camp next summer?
Bob: I don’t know if you would call him a prospect or an NHLer who experienced a hiccup, but to me Michael Del Zotto is in a position really to help himself at camp. It’s a new start after sort of a humbling second year of pro, and with what he can contribute on the power play, if he rediscovers a significant bit of his rookie mojo, I think he could easily put himself right back into the mix.
Brian: Evgeny Grachev. I think this is a huge year for him, even though he is still young. It will be important for him to put it all together on a consistent basis, everyone knows that the talent and skill are there. Whether or not he makes the team out of camp, I think it’s important that he puts people on notice and really, I think he will, I think it’s going to be a big production year for him.
With all the new signings and expired contracts, it looks like there is going to be significant roster turnover this summer for the Whale. How does that affect the offseason plans?
Bob: That kind of thing, I find, doesn’t have that much effect on the AHL club. The affiliate is almost always more affected by who steps up in camp as a surprise to grab a spot, or what kind of injuries or salary cap issues the parent team runs into. Most AHL veterans, like Jeremy Williams for example, are under one-year contracts, so you naturally expect those guys to come and go as the years go by.
Brian: I don’t think it really changes anything, that kind of turnover is really just a fact of life in this league. Every year we seem to start off with a younger and younger team but they pull together and play winning hockey. Having a young core might mean bringing in a few veterans to complement the presence of Kris Newbury and (likely) Wade Redden, whether that means qualifying John Mitchell or signing another AHL free agent or two. As far as how it affects the front office here directly, it means more tweeting, Facebook posts and press releases, which is always a good thing for public relations exposure and getting the Whale brand out there.
Is there any new signing or acquisition that you are particularly excited to see play for the Whale next season?
Bob: After watching what he was able to help the U.S. National Junior Team achieve, knowing his bloodlines and having seen his older brother play very effectively in the AHL, and knowing his Junior accomplishments, I am eager to see what kind of pro player Ryan Bourque can be, if he ends up with the Whale.
Brian: I’m pretty excited to see Carl Hagelin play a full season as I’m sure many fans of Rangers prospects are. We only got to see him in a couple playoff games last year since he helped take Michigan to the Frozen Four, but he looked good in that limited action. Also excited to see Ryan Bourque and Tim Erixon, should those guys play here next season. I don’t want to omit anybody because I always like seeing prospects come in, but those are just the guys that come to mind first.
Again, a big thanks to Bob Crawford and Brian Ring of the Connecticut Whale for taking their time to provide their unique insight into the Whale and the Rangers prospects. Check back throughout the week for more great insight about the Rangers biggest prospects and how the guys at the Whale expect the AHL club and their prospects to fare during the coming season! Make sure you follow Brian and the Whale on twitter at @brianring and @CTWhale!