The title of this post is clearly a joke. Matt J wins this week’s Sin Bin again, I think it’s his 38th win or something like that. Luckily he writes pretty damn well. Here is his guest post about which rookies are potentials for this year’s club.
Carl Hagelin- Just graduated out of Michigan and averaged over a point a game in his last two seasons as Michigan’s captain. I must say though it’s hard to compare NCAA players to OHL players. I think when Hagelin finally gets to the NHL he can be a Ruslan Fedotenko like player with more of a scoring touch. I don’t see Hagelin being more than a 3rd liner on the Rangers but I think he can be very effective in that role. Will he get playing time this year? He definitely will see the ice for the Rangers this year but how much ice he will see remains to be seen. If he’s playing well in the AHL, he could be a good injury call up. Does he make the opening night roster? Doubtful. He’s really going to have to outplay Fedotenko, Sean Avery, Erik Christensen, and Mats Zuccarrello to have any chance of making it. But he can’t even let it be close in comparisons between him and other players because Torts is going to go with experience if it’s a tough call.
Christian Thomas- The 54 goal scorer finished second in scoring in the OHL last season in a very impressive season. Thomas has the potential to be a big scoring threat at the NHL level. It’s too bad he’s not eligible for the AHL because clearly he can outplay his opponents at the OHL level. Will he get playing time this year? I’m going to go with no because this all rides on whether or not he makes the team this year and survives cuts, and if does that he has to go back to the OHL and can’t come back. Does he make the opening night roster? He’s got to really outplay everyone in the pre-season and really show what he’s got in Traverse City this year. I’m gonna say no though because I don’t think the Rangers need to rush him to the NHL this year. I think though it’s important that when the Connecticut Whale’s playoffs start that he makes an impact.
Dylan McIlrath- The big heavy hitting McIlrath really got his game going last year and the Rangers staff say he looks a lot better this year. These tough defenseman really take a long time to mature into NHL players but when they do they are really effective. Take Zdeno Chara for example. Even after he got into the NHL he wasn’t at his best and it took 3 seasons for him to really dominate at the NHL level with the Senators. But he became a Norris winner, and one of the best defenseman in the NHL. Do I think or expect Mcilrath to do that? No. But he could be a Jeff Beukeboom, (I’m gonna say better than Beukeboom) and clear the crease, and fight anyone who gets in Hank’s or any other Rangers face. With him on the ice the days of running Rangers would be over. Gaborik would never try to drop the gloves again with McIlrath. Does he see the ice this year? No. Does he make the opening night roster his year? No.
You might ask why I would even bother to include him on the list then if I didn’t think he could make the roster but I think he could make the squad for 2012-2013. I think though it’s very important for him to have a great Traverse City, and a great camp with the Rangers, so the fans could get off his back. We can’t take our anger out on him just because some of us wanted Cam Fowler. And please get over the fact we didn’t take Fowler. Because if MDZ rebounds than him and Fowler are the same player.
Those are the big 3 this year, but I doubt that one of those 3 are on the opening night roster. But I do think those 3 crack the roster for the 2012-2013 season. There’s just too much of a log jam at the forwards position for Thomas and Hagelin to beat out, and Mcilrath definitely get another year at Moosejaw to reinforce his skills. But I do think those 3 players have a big future with the Rangers.
Other players getting an honorable mention to making the squad this year: Pavel Valentenko, John Mitchell (Who had a solid season and playoffs for the Whale in limited games), Dale Weise, and Tomas Kundratek. Also, had Pashnin not gone to the KHL I would have definitely included him on this list.
But the real chance for everyone in our pipeline to make the Rangers is in the 2012-2013 season where we would probably not bring back the following players pending a huge turnaround for them: Steve Eminger, Wojtek Wolski, Sean Avery, Erik Christensen, and Ruslan Fedotenko. Imagine the fight for the roster spots if all those people weren’t brought back? It would be fun to watch.