Rangers clear the way for prospects

July 27, 2013, by
JT Miller is one of the prospects who will play a huge role next year.

JT Miller is one of the prospects who will play a huge role next year.

A lot of credit has to be given to the Rangers franchise for the way they have opened up space at all levels of the franchise for prospects. Room has been made so that prospects can get the maximum amount of ice time to aid their development. The caveat in all of this is that they still need to earn it, and should they not there needs to be alternatives at hand, but no prospect should feel buried on any Ranger depth chart.

The Hartford Wolf Pack have seen key AHL contributors such as Chad Kolarik or Kris Newbury depart in recent times, and players such as Kelsey Tessier or Benn Ferriero – solid AHL players but with no real chance at NHL careers – have also moved on. Even players still considered solid prospects (such as Christian Thomas) have been moved once their development appears to have stalled, replaced by more likely potential such as is assumed with Danny Kristo.

Next season the Pack promise to have a ton of youth up front. Any combination of Marek Hrivik, Danny Kristo, Chris Kreider, JT Miller, Kyle Jean, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Bourque, Josh Nicholls, and Andrew Yogan could comprise the forward lines in the AHL. That is not including more ‘marginal’ players such as Michael Haley, Brandon Segal (if he returns), and Brandon Mashinter, all of whom has NHL experience and brings a combination of offense and physicality at the AHL level.

There appears to be open competition for ice time between the younger players in the franchise at the AHL level. While players such as Kreider and Miller are likely to start camp with the Rangers, there would still be nine to twelve players that could line up for the Whale next season that harbour hopes of carving themselves an NHL career. Opportunities exist for those able to grab them.

Then there are the Rangers themselves (with significant credit going to the departed John Tortorella). Over the past few years they have routinely supplemented the roster with youth such as Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, and even Mats Zuccarello. In addition they have quickly promoted the likes of Kreider, Miller, and traded for younger NHL’ers such as Derick Brassard.

This coming season there appears to be more space. Whether it is due to injuries or management’s instance that opportunities exist for the prospects the Rangers are readying themselves for more youth to be promoted. Successful NHL franchises regularly inject youth on to the roster. The Detroit Red Wings are the model franchise in this regard. Even if players don’t fill a scoring role younger players are regularly relied upon as role players.

The Rangers have set themselves up in a similar style to the Wings from a prospect perspective. In the first instance it starts with the minor league club and the Rangers have set up the Wolf Pack to be a very young hockey club for the foreseeable future. Room for growth, room for successful development. With the Wolf Pack returning to the AHL, they appear to be returning with plenty of talent to choose from. Credit Sather and his staff.


  1. WilliamW says:

    Agree 100%. The system is now very deep at forward and hopefully a few of the youngsters will turn out to be solid at the NHL level

    How about the D? Any chance the new signees from last year Allen and Hughes have a shot?

    Will be fun to watch the Whale compete next year as players audition for the big stage

    • Chris says:

      It will be interesting for sure, to see how Allen and Hughes develop. I’d hope given his age, Allen can step in and have a strong AHL season and make himself an NHL candidate in 12 months time. Anything sooner would be gravy.

      • Centerman21 says:

        I don’t know much about Hughes but Allen was an undrafted Free Agent. Wasn’t he and they list him as one of the Rangers top 3 defensive prospects. Sounds like a pretty solid signing by Sather from this past spring along with Nicholls and Kantor!

        How sweet would it be if Miller, Kreider, and Kristo made the team out of camp. At least while Hagelin and Callahan are out! Maybe we get a look at a healthy Miller again and see what Kristo has to offer for a couple weeks till those guys get healthy.

  2. Walt says:


    Nice write up! It’s great to see the pipeline is full of young kids knocking on the door of the NHL!

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Walt. I wouldn’t say the cupboard is full of sure fire prospects but the ones that are there should be in a position to develop given the likely ice time they will receive.

      Given all the graduations in recent seasons the cupboard needs a few new prospects which I’m sure the club will look to add. Allen and Hughes on D are examples of attempting to ‘restock’…

  3. Centerman21 says:

    I think Ferriero will be an NHL player one day. I guess he was from the Torts regime but has some hustle to him. That may be why the Nucks claimed him shortly after claiming Torts himself.

    Does anyone know if Slats qualified Mashinter? I would like to keep that kid around if not just for his size. He’s built like Ryan Clowe, maybe bigger. Even just to keep in in Hartford so McIllrath doesn’t have to do all the fighting. Give Mac’ nuckles a break now and then. He’s a kid that can play NHL 4th line mins do a little bumping add some size to the team. Like the Kings did with Nolan and Westgarth the year they won the cup. You need some size in the forward ranks.

    • Ray says:

      Mashinter got a qualifying offer.

    • Mark says:

      I would like to see Mashinter or Haley actually make the Rangers. I dont think McIlrath will make the team and that leaves them very small. I agree that there is depth but there is not a player that stands out with a cant miss chance. Lets hope that Kreider proves himself and becomes elite.

  4. Johnny Red says:

    Like the write up. As a Ranger fan for 50 years this is what I have been waiting for. A team with young players home grown looking to make the team. All these years we’ve had to suffer with aging stars coming here and not performing. Thank you Slats for that!!!

  5. Ray says:

    I don’t think this was so much a plan as simply the rules of hockey. Assuming the Rangers finish signing Step, Zuc, and Mashinter, they’ll have 48 signed players with a reasonable mix of forwards, defensemen, and goalies. You don’t want any more than that at this point and so there is just no way to squeeze in those guys that are gone. Sather had to let Palmieri and Segal walk, trade Ferreiro and Newbury for defensemen. As for Thomas-Kristo, that was more about talent appraisal than a commitment to the future (isn’t Thomas younger?).

  6. Frank Cerbone says:

    Thomas is younger and played against bigger, better, and older competition than Cristo.

    Just Gordie Clark putting in his 2 cents again.
    Brady Skjei really regressed his 1st year in college. Clark drafted Skjei as a potention top 4 defenseman. Most knowledgeable fans laughed at that appraisal by Clark. The book on Skjei is hit him early and he vanishes, no offensive skills, and a guaranteed Lady Bing candidate EVERY year as he doesn’t touch anybody.
    Gordie Clark, the guy who convinced Sather to ignore head scout Maloney’s desire for JPParise in the 2003 draft and picked Hugh Jessiman.