Just who is Marek Hrivik, and have the Rangers (via the Whale) found another steal? Let’s get the basics out of the way. Hrivik is a Slovakian winger (the Rangers seem to have had some recent success with that part of the world, no?) and stands at 6’1 and weights around 190lbs. Hrivik went undrafted but was a highly productive player in the QMJHL for Moncton.
In three full years the winger scored 26, 38 and 29 goals respectively and over that three year period was a point per game player. Perhaps tellingly, just like he’s now doing for the Whale, Hrivik has always seemed to excel come playoff time as his 26 points in 29 junior playoff games suggest.
It’s not a surprise that he’s commanding the interest of the Rangers. While his introduction to pro-hockey was modest (1 goal in 8 regular season games after joining the Whale) Hrivik earned rave reviews for his play and has now backed that up in the playoffs as the Slovak has exploded in to a dynamic force for the Whale. With 5 goals and 8 points in 7 games Hrivik is leading the Whale as they too look for a deep playoff run to coincide with the parent Rangers.
So how does such a productive player go undrafted? Hrivik came to North America early and immediately had success. He won a QMJHL Championship (alongside the Whale’s Kelsey Tessier) and played in the Memorial Cup. That year he had 55 points in 66 games as a rookie. He’s not undersized and has great speed so it’s not like scouts had anything obvious not to like. Still, the NHL’s (initial) loss has been the Whale’s gain.
The Rangers however need to be quick. Hrivik by all accounts is garnering attention around the NHL – probably given his lack of commitment to an NHL club and his impressive impact in the AHL playoffs. With size, speed and an impressive track record it would be in the Rangers interests to snap up the Slovakian winger. And it’s not like he wouldn’t have a fellow Slovak to aspire to in NY is it?
You think of Rangers prospects coming from Europe, the expectations and the solid junior careers and you get excited. You think of Evgeny Grachev in the first instance, David Kveton or David Skokan or even Tomas Zaborsky (like Grachev, a very productive OHL junior) and eventually you look back on them all and think of disappointment. The difference is, none of those players made an impact at such an important time of year like the playoffs – including Grachev who has tasted the NHL with St Louis.
Hrivik might be different. He might not; after all he had try outs with Columbus (who need all the help they can get) and Phoenix and didn’t stick. Also, the eight game sample size is a small one indeed but that said there’s a lot to like so far from the young winger. Maybe he can be the next under the radar (non drafted) prospect to come up through the organisation. Of course, the Rangers need to sign him first.