The Rangers always hold a development camp after the draft but this year’s event will be a lot more intriguing given the players on show. The camp consists of players already contracted to the club, the recent draft picks, try outs and camp invitees. What this year’s camp features, making it especially intriguing, are several legitimate candidates to make the Rangers to begin the new season.
Among the players taking the ice today are Tim Erixon, Carl Hagelin, Christian Thomas and Ryan Bourque – clearly some of the ‘bigger names’ that will be on show. Erixon is highly touted and expected to make the big club while Hagelin has a great chance to make the bottom six with a strong preseason. Christian Thomas’ immediate future depends a lot on how free agency develop and whether the Rangers can add skill up front but the talented winger is a dangerous goal scorer and a strong preseason could give him a real chance to make the 2011/2012 starting roster.
Ryan Bourque is a man likely headed to the AHL to begin his pro career but the diminutive forward has pedigree and would add extra skill (as well as his effort and hustle) to the bottom six, so it will be interesting to see how he approaches his first season with an NHL contract – starting with this week’s prospect camp. Can the small forward make himself a serious candidate for the Rangers this season? The play of prospects such as Hagelin, Bourque and Thomas could influence the Rangers decision to bring back veterans such as Prospal or Fedotenko.
This week’s prospect camp is also full of intrigue because a lot of attention will be given to JT Miller, the unexpected first round pick from this past weekend. Miller will be watched closely by all and this will be his first taste of pressure as a Rangers prospect ahead of his first year with North Dakota in the NCAA. Meanwhile Shane McColgan will also be worth watching as the small winger was once touted as a high first round pick so clearly has the skill to become a steal in the fifth round. What made him slide to the 5th round over the past two years?
One of the highlights from last year was the unexpected play of Mikhail Pashnin. The Russian defenseman showed an enthusiasm and level of ability that really turned heads and comes in to his second season as a Ranger prospect with a little more expectancy. The CSKA Moscow blueliner could really help himself in terms of his position in the organisation with another big showing.
Another reason why the prospect camp is full of extra interest? This week will be the first time Oscar Lindberg has donned Rangers colours since coming to the organisation in a swap with Ethan Werek. The 20 year old may still have one year left on his SEL contract but a lot of eyes will be focussed on the 6’0 Swedish center as many will expect him to be strong competition to fill a roster spot in the coming seasons.
Above all, taking a glance at the development camp roster highlights the true depth the Rangers currently enjoy beyond the pro rosters (both at NHL and AHL level). Not mentioned above are legitimate prospects like Jason Wilson, 2010 first round pick Dylan McIlrath, Swede Jesper Fasth, goalie Scott Stajcer or others such as Tommy Grant or Andrew Yogan who have all experienced either significant success in junior, at the WJC or in brief pro cameos. It should be an interesting camp to follow.