Balancing a prospects best interests against team results

September 30, 2013, by
Could Hrivik be well placed to become a Ranger despite being in the AHL?

Could Hrivik be well placed to become a Ranger despite being in the AHL?

With the Rangers facing the reality of opening the year without Ryan Callahan for at least a game and Carl Hagelin for much longer – without even considering the lack of practice time for Derek Stepan – would the Rangers be best prepared leaning on the veterans to begin the year?

With Jesper Fast and JT Miller tentatively penciled in for the Coyotes game, the Rangers intend to employ two important pieces of their future, now. Neither player figures to be in the top six based on practices and the varied reports from the beat writers.

As we saw with Chris Kreider, if a prospect doesn’t deserve to be with the big club, he won’t be. Sometimes even when a prospect deserves to be (as could be argued with all of Oscar Lindberg, Marek Hrivik, Danny Kristo, or Connor Allen) it’s in no ones interest to see those players marginalised for the sake of numbers.

So why Miller and Fast? Both players so far have showed a level of accountability and skill – and end product – that suggested they had to be kept up. With Callahan and Hagelin out for varying lengths of time, it will be interesting and highly important to see how these prospects are deployed.

The Rangers face a difficult situation with Miller and Fast. Both players have tremendous long term potential for the club, particularly given the lack of contractual commitments the club have to deal with, so the club need to balance the benefit of their immediate involvement compared to their long term development.

The likes of Kreider, Hrivik, and Kristo may have seen their demotions to the Wolfpack as personal set backs, but it may be that being on the Wolfpack puts them – and not those with the Rangers – in the best positions to succeed of all the prospects close to the NHL club.

At this stage of the season there are at least six key prospects in the starting blocks facing important years in their careers –spread over different leagues – but all facing the same starting points. All these players offer the same dilemma to the Rangers; short term pain/long term gain. How the Rangers handle these situations will have a significant impact on the overall health of the franchise.


  1. Mikeyyy says:

    I expected this type of conversation sometime around game

    You guys are always 10 steps ahead of everyone else. That’s why I keep coming back. And to get suit all riled up.

  2. Dave says:

    Great post.

    A lot of people are forgetting that this is a team that is built to win the Cup. The kids that were sent down are the next wave that will help keep them in contention for years.

    Development is a marathon, not a sprint.

  3. Matt Josephs says:

    Pure speculation, but perhaps the Rangers chose Miller and Fast because they both play like Callahan and Hagelin respectively.

    Maybe the front office sees Miller filling in with a gritty and grinding game, while Fast will be used to provide some offense but also give the team better possession and speed.

    Kreider needs to have just an uninterrupted season where he’s just playing game after game in all situations. He’ll get that in Hartford. Hrivik will eventually get his look. I’m actually almost surprised they chose Fast over Hrivik based on the pre-season, but hey I don’t think anyone outside the organization really knows the full story behind it. Kristo needs to round out his game, but I do see a future in the NHL for him be it here or somewhere else.

    Connor Allen is my dark horse that I have high hopes for. He really has a good skill set, and I see him as NHL caliber soon. Vigneault didn’t sound that high on Falk at all, and made it sound as if Falk backed into the lineup. Allen will definitely need some games in Hartford, but if an injury goes down on defense in a month, two months from now, I think Allen will get called up and play ahead of Falk. Just a prediction.

    Really good write up Chris. I hope you’re able to watch most of the Rangers west coast trip. That’s gotta be hard to do being across the pond.

    • Marc Weissman says:

      Granted Miller deserved to stay, but to say he plays like Callahan is both an absurd overstatement of what JT has shown thus far, and an insult to how Cally plays. I mean, please. There are very few NHL VETS out there who play how Callahan plays, let alone some borderline rookie, but anyway….

      As for Fast, yes – fittingly – he has speed, but obviously he has yet to show he can consistently use it game in and game out, or in the post-season mind you. So it remains to be seen who he “compares” with as well.

      Believe me, I’m excited as anyone about these two young players, plus Falk as well. But we also need to be careful with any comparisons at such an early stage in all 3 of these promising-but-very-green newcomers.

      Bring on the ‘Yotes! 😉

    • Puck Luck (@Centerman21) says:

      I think Falk got the 7th Dman spot because he’s expendable. If he sits in the press box all season the Rangers would be fine with that. He certainly backed into the position. He had moments where he played well but more than not he made bad decisions. It may just be a matter of practicing with the team.

    • Chris says:

      Dude, the west coast swing is going to be a nightmare for me! ill try my best though. Probably watch the games before work early in the mornings.

  4. Walt says:

    Got back from Italy last night, and the first thing I did this morning was get up to date on the moves made. I can’t believe some of them, but I was away, and don’t know all that happened, so I’ll have to put my trust in the coaching staff. Now let’s get the games going, I’m so up for this season!!!

  5. becky says:

    Killing it lately, Chris. Keep up the good work 🙂

  6. WilliamW says:

    Top players tend to be at the NHL level at an early age which I’d guess impacts the thinking / over reactions going on

    Of the 6 big name forward prospects there is really only 4 spots available in the top 9 over the next few years and they will be competing with UFAs as well as Zuc and Pouliot, two players who many are excited about this season

    So if 1/2 of them succeed this team is a great spot

    (Assume the core forwards to be pretty obvious: Nash, Stepan, Brassard, Callahan, Hagelin)

  7. Bloomer says:

    The kids play ok in pre-season but the only ones that stood out to me where Miller and Conner Allen. If they want to make it in the bigs they need to stand out from the rest.
    Krieder has the most potential to do so in my opinion, but has to play more desperate and keep his foot on the gas petal. Kristo needs a road map to find his end of the ice. Oscar Lindberg, Marek, Hrivik and Fast are intriguing and do appear to have a lot of upside.
    Yogan is a darkhorse to make it and McIIrath has more to learn about the game.

  8. Brian79 says:

    Great article! Man oh man AV has some decisions to make. But one thing for sure, he has a very good record in letting young guys develop and prosper. It’s better having to go through this now rather then mid to late season where it could mess around with chemistry. I truly believe the Rangers will be ok on this road trip. Let’s Go Rangers! NHL IS BACK BOYS!

  9. bernmeister says:

    I don’t have time to address all the nuances of your article, correct or incorrect, imo, so my apologies thereto.

    As to:
    “The likes of Kreider, Hrivik, and Kristo may have seen their demotions to the Wolfpack as personal set backs, but it may be that being on the Wolfpack puts them – and not those with the Rangers – in the best positions to succeed of all the prospects close to the NHL club.”

    I entirely disagree.
    Kreider is built for superspeed and should be LW on line with JT Miller as C — the only C we have who can skate fast enough — with their quick movement further exploited with obviously Callahan or maybe Fast at RW.

    Kreider succeeded with complementary talent. He has not had enough development, due to torts and bone chip injury last year, to have enough experience to adjust with much lesser talents, and by that I mean not overall Ranger Fs, but guys like Pyatt and Boyle.

  10. Frank Cerbone says:

    I don’t care who you put Kreider with, he will always underachieve.

    I could see Kreider being traded for carter Ashton; two #1 draft choices that have problems finding their way.

    Fast is quick and covers some ground, but he needs to get stronger.

    Kristo is a better finisher than Kreider but doesn’t back check well.

    Miller looks like a 3rd liner, maybe a real good 3rd liner some day

    McIlrath needs just to work on his positional play.

    Allen may be a 3rd pairing defenseman if Moore or Stralman goes….but he plays on the left side.
    Allen also was in the Capitals training camp in 2012 as an undrafted free agent and they passed on him…didn’t sign him.

    Ryan Stanton..a right handed defensive defenseman..semitough only 24 was available and Vancouver picked him up on waivers. Getting Stanton made sense…but evaluating talent not a strength of the Ranger organization.