Aug
30

Thoughts on the Traverse City Roster

August 30, 2016, by

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The New York Rangers recently announced their Traverse City roster and invites, and while the names don’t include players from my previous post there are some interesting names. There are three non-organizational forwards invited to the camp; Reid Duke, Nick Betz, and Zack Zborosky. On defense we have Colton Bobyk, Zachary Malatesta, Turner Ottenbreit, and Dylan Di Perna as the non-roster invites. Let’s look at these invitees.

Forwards

Reid Duke – The versatile right handed center and winger is the only center the Rangers invited this fall and he provides this team with some intriguing depth. He plays an all around two way game focused on speed and being responsible in his own end. The teams he has been on use him in a defensive role for this very reason, yet he does show some flashes of skill. The issue with Duke is that his offense isn’t exactly consistent nor is it impressive as a 20 year old in the WHL. Duke was lost in the numbers as he went unsigned by the Minnesota Wild, but in any case should provide some forward and penalty kill depth to the roster as he tries to get his name on a possible AHL contract.

Nick Betz – This is one of the odder invites to me. Nick Betz is a massive right-handed power forward who has thus far spent his entire OHL career in Erie. Now at 21, Betz hasn’t been able to be an offensive force even while being more physically mature than 95% of his opponents. That just doesn’t bode well with me.

That said this is more than your average Traverse City fodder like Duke may be. While Duke has another year of eligibility in Juniors, Betz does not. Both sides are likely looking for a good camp to see if Betz can continue his hockey career as a pro, likely with the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Betz isn’t a fast skater and I wouldn’t really call him a “good skater for his size.” He does play a strong net front game –is that attributed to his size, compared to the 17 year olds he is against?– and a powerful shot. In any case, I would not be shocked for him to get an AHL deal, but an ELC is questionable.

Zach Zborosky – This is the most intriguing forward invite and likely has the best chance to becoming a noted prospect. Zborosky was a bit of a late bloomer, but the right handed sniper has not only gotten better every season with the Kootenay Ice, he has taken up a leadership role as well. Zborosky is a prospect that I really think fits what the Rangers are trying to build. A right-handed, fast skating player with offensive abilities will certainly pique some interest.

Defense

Colton Bobyk – Bobyk is a strange defenseman. The 6’1″ left handed Red Deer Rebel exploded last season to the tune of 20-27-47. Bobyk’s howitzer of a shot helped him amass those totals. The interesting thing here is that Bobyk only started playing defense just before entering the WHL. Is it possible that he took a couple of years to adjust, and now with some experience and being an older player he was able to breakout?

Zachary Malatesta – Malatesta is your prototypical 5’9″ puck moving defenseman. He makes his name by beginning the breakout with a sleek first pass out of the zone. He still has to work on his strength along the boards, though. I am also quite wary of the fact that he hasn’t piled up the points in the QMJHL, and for a small defenseman to gain any kind of recognition the points need to come.

Turner Ottenbreit – Ottenbreit is a 6’3″ defensive defenseman that uses his body and physicality to separate forwards from the puck. My issue is he isn’t that impressive of a skater and I wonder if the Rangers would even bat an eye if he was smaller. To me he just isn’t that impressive, but the club has seen quite a bit of him while scouting teammate Ryan Gropp. I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the next Troy Donnay within the organization and somehow getting a deal next year.

Dylan Di Perna – Di Perna is the only right handed defenseman that the Rangers invited, and after two injury plagued seasons he finally seemed to get his footing with the Kitchener Rangers last season. Di Perna does have a hard slap shot and the Rangers likely hope that he will provide a better offensive showing without any injuries hindering him in his over age year.

Side note: I believe Ahti Oksanen is still injured and that is why he will not attend. In any case Hail Zuccarello.

Goalie

Joseph Raaymakers – I won’t comment much on Raaymakers as I don’t do goalies, but he did give Halverson quite a run as his backup, so having him in Traverse City is fun.

Line combos get interesting, especially if Pavel Buchnevich will be playing center for the tournament. Below are my ideal lines, but worth noting that these aren’t lines 1-4, these are just some trios I am interested in seeing.

Tim Gettinger/Jimmy Vesey – Pavel Buchnevich – Adam Chapie

  • This line is a nice combination of size and skill relative to the tournament. Buch can be both a playmaker and a scorer, and will be able to drive the offense with this line. Gettinger is a net front presence and boards worker, giving a nice complement to tenacious forechecking ability. If the puck winds up on the stick of Adam Chapie, we can see a lot of chances and goals from a nice cycling line. Chapie also has enough speed to keep up with Buchnevich on the rush. I also expect Vesey in Gettinger’s spot to provide the team with a full blown powerful offensive line that gets a goal whenever needed.

Ryan Gropp – Boo Nieves/Brad MorrisonTy Ronning

  • This line is similar to the top line but more run and gun. Ronning and Nieves have speed to not only drive the defense insane but also have the skills to create the plays and space for Gropp to get open. Ronning’s pesky play to get to loose pucks and rebounds will be an important asset to this line in retaining possession.

Robin Kovacs – Brad Morrison/Boo Nieves – Malte Stromwall

  • This is the super creative, super annoying, offensively gifted trio that can run amok in Traverse City. Kovacs and Stromwall were wonderful together in Sweden and I am excited to see them on the smaller rink. They have the offensive abilities to produce both on the rush and cycling, which is why I think the crafty Brad Morrison is the perfect center for them. Morrison does whatever he can to steal the puck from his opponents, but once he has it he simply doesn’t lose it. Watching him keep the puck on the stick and trying to set up an incredible play is beautiful and is one reason why he is one of my favorite prospects. You can swap Morrison and Nieves in the middle-six to provide either more speed or creativity to whichever lines the staff prefers.

Jimmy Vesey/Tim Gettinger/Michael JolySteven Fogarty – Zach Zborovsky

  • This will be a very responsible defensive line that can also chip in on the offense depending who is on the wing. Vesey will likely be able to generate possession more than Gettinger. Closer to the end of the tournament, it wouldn’t shock me to see Vesey scratched to avoid injury. In that case, Michael Joly would be swell here as the creative winger who is also defensively responsible.  This creates a nice shut down line that can immediately counter to create a chance with Zborovsky’s speed. I fully expect Fogarty to be given the bulk of the defensive responsibilities.

Michel Joly – Reid Duke – Nick Betz

  • I mentioned Joly already, but I can see Duke and Betz respectively filling in a defensive center or winger role. I really don’t know where to put these players as I can’t imagine them being a better option than seeing the new draftees play.

Sean DayCalle Andersson

  • Both of these prospects are super smooth skating defensemen and I want to see Day in a top role given his sky high potential. This pair will be wonderful defensively against any rush, while also helping the team breakout when necessary. There will be some defensive lapses, but I will be interested in seeing them cope with that.

John Gilmour – Sergei Zborovsky

  • This pair complements each other well. Gilmour is a wonderful skater and puck mover who plays a slick transition game. Zborovsky is more of a hulking, stay at home kid who has made it one of his goals to become a better skater. He has certainly taken some steps to improve, and I will be excited to see how he looks after a summer of working. Zborovsky plays a mean game and is a wonderful crease clearer so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in a PK role as well.

Colton Bobyk – Dylan Di Perna

  • The veteran invite pair is something that I believe can work well together. Similar to the pair above, these kids play a complementary game. Di Perna can be a wonderful defenseman that can pinch and help with the cycle, while Bobyk can be the guy who just blasts the puck once he receives it.

Ottenbreit is someone that I can see filling in for Bobyk in games because of a similar defensive style. I am confused about where I’d place Malatesta, though. He can likely fill in for Gilmour if the team doesn’t need to see much more of him.

Overall I am a little upset about the invites, as I was hoping for more players with character issues that have underlying talent, or players simply passed over because of size. The Rangers wouldn’t lose much inviting these players, as they wouldn’t cost any contracts. That said, it really doesn’t matter at all because this tournament is just to get to see some prospects, with most invites not resulting in much. I am just excited to start watching some hockey. Hopefully this will be televised this year.

"Thoughts on the Traverse City Roster", 4 out of 5 based on 15 ratings.
Categories : Prospects

16 comments

  1. amy says:

    I see this as the precursor for the season to see how good the kids can be it will give people a chance to look at Vesey

    • Jon says:

      I agree Amy. I’m looking for a big time breakout year from Nieves. Not just goals & points. I think he can be a Sean Coutorier type player and play a 2-way game over all 200 ft of ice.
      I don’t see why put Buchnevich at center. Is he going to play on the 4th line for the Rangers? Top 2 are set in stone and Hayes is much better suited as a pivot than a winger. As good a skater as he is, he’s just not the speedy winger the Rangers need. If he were a righty I would understand a bit more as to why he may play the RW at even strength. He’s a lefty tho so IMO there is little/no reason to make him play anywhere but 3C.

    • Jon says:

      Of course we are all looking forward to seeing Jimmy Vesey & many are looking at Pavel Buchnevich at (pivot?) center but there’s several other kids that I’m (and many others) looking forward to seeing play. They say Sean Day is “the real thing” and I believe them but now he will be playing against tougher talent. The kid David Gilmour play. He only cost a contract as a college UFA but the Rangers need puck movers on the back end. I haven’t seen much of Calle Andersson but he may be in the NHL in the next 2-3 years if his career path continues.

  2. Walt says:

    Based on your write up, this group of kids have plenty of skill, and speed!!!!!!

    I, for one, am interested in a few names, Buch, Vesey, Day, Nieves, and the Swedes. There are others as well, but these guys got my attention. This should be a very interesting showcase for the young kids, and this may well be the best team to represent the Rangers in a few years !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Randy says:

    Is there any way to watch these games?

  4. Johnny Red says:

    MSG won’t even cover the Ranger’s draft and signings so don’t count on it happening. Last year the Buffalo website had some of the games streaming on line, not sure if they will do it this year. If I find out I will post it here if that’s ok with the people who run this site.

  5. Jon says:

    I’m actually super excited about this 25 man Traverse City roster. On paper it’s the best the Rangers have had in a long time. Did they win TC in 2010 or was it back in 08′ when Staal participated in the tourney? Either way, it’s been a while and the teams that normally participate have had many prospects graduate to the pro ranks of late and are not so deep with 1st & 2nd round talent.

    I think there is a very good mix of skill, power, grinders, and defensive forwards & defenseman. Any idea if this team will play a system similar to what the Rangers employ to get them ready to understand what AV employs in training camp?
    I think Day is the real deal and at most he’s just a year away from NHL callup. I also like all the right handed shooters the Rangers invited.

  6. Ric Erdheim says:

    If the Rangers were that high in Di Perna, Malatesta, and Bobyk, why didn’t the Rangers invite them to their prospect camp where they only had seven defenseman?

    • Reenavipul says:

      Ottenbreit played top 4 minutes on a team that went to the WHL final, so don’t be surprised if he plays more in this tourney, even on his off hand.

  7. Richter1994 says:

    Great stuff Josh. Writers either follow prospects or they don’t because there’s no “faking” it in the scouting reports written. This is very complete on prospects you never hear about as a Ranger fan.

    I’m pretty up on most of the Ranger prospects but I have never heard of some of the guys you reported on to us. Well done!!

    P.S. Buch at center huh? Hmmmm.

    • Reenavipul says:

      You can tease a lot out of a prospect just by looking at his H/W, stats and where he was on his team in scoring.

  8. Reenavipul says:

    Considering who Betz played with, all he should have done in Erie is screen the goalie and tip in pucks. That’s a skill set that should stay consistent at his size regardless of level.