After practicing with the Rangers yesterday, 21-year-old prospect Jesper Fast has been assigned to the CT Whale. The 2010 sixth-round pick is eligible to play in both the AHL and NHL, but Fast is required to return to Sweden for the World Championships on April 15th, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for him to join the Rangers for just two weeks.
Instead, Fast will continue to practice with the Whale and will likely see some AHL game action. Fast’s demotion has nothing to do with the 23-man roster limit, as that was lifted last night.
The speedy winger tallied 18 goals and 17 assists in 47 games with HV71 of the Swedish Elite League this season.
Per Paul Doyle of the Hartford Courant, it looks like the Connecticut Whale will remain in Hartford for the time being. A multi-year deal has been reached with MSG and Global Spectrum to keep the Whale playing in Hartford, where they have spent the last 16 seasons.
Also, the Whale will remain the Whale. There had been rumors they were going to return to being the Wolfpack.
In a surprising move, the Rangers recalled F Christian Thomas from the CT Whale on Friday night. With Arron Asham, Darroll Powe and Rick Nash all on the shelf, the Rangers had to play Stu Bickel at forward against Ottawa. The team may be looking to avoid that situation again by giving Thomas a shot at the show.
Thomas has been red hot for the Whale and has posted 13 goals and 11 assists in 52 games this season. He’s obviously an offensive-minded guy and could provide another righty shot on the power play. Lord knows the Blueshirts are desperate for solutions in that department, so why not give Thomas a shot?
The knock on the 20-year-old has always been his size. Drafted as the 40th pick overall in 2010, Thomas tore up the OHL with the Oshawa Generals. He has struggled a bit in the American League until recently and there’s some doubt that Thomas will become an NHL regular largely due to his 5-foot-9, 170 lb. stature.
The Connecticut Whale have announced that they have recalled goalie Scott Stajcer from the Greenville Road Warriors, the Rangers ECHL affiliate. Stajcer was assigned to Greenville in late October, and went 8-4-3 with a 2.72 GAA and a .918 SV%. Stajcer was the Rangers fifth round pick in 2009.
Renaud Lavoie is reporting that the Rangers have signed goalie Cam Talbot to a two-year contract extension tonight. Talbot is 18-19-1 with a 2.56 GAA and a .918 SV% with the CT Whale this season, where he has played since 2009. The signing indicates the Rangers have seen a (very) small glimmer of hope that Talbot could be the heir to the throne, but the organization still needs to acquire a legitimate goalie prospect.
The most interesting thing about the news: in year one Talbot will make $550k on a two-way deal, but in 2014-2015, Talbot will get $575k on a one-way NHL contract. That happens to be the year after Marty Biron’s contract expires. That doesn’t necessarily mean Talbot is earmarked for Biron’s job, it wouldn’t be too difficult to deal a cheap goalie if it came to that (although it’s still a good bet Biron will be gone after his current deal ends).
This also probably doesn’t speak well toward Scott Stajcer’s future with the franchise.
Per Andrew Gross, citing the AHL transaction website, the Rangers have loaned defenseman Steve Eminger to the Connecticut Whale on a two-week conditioning stint. Eminger has played just four games this year for the Rangers, which includes just one game in February. In each of those games, Eminger was used for less than ten minutes per game in each of those contests.
The Whale play six games in the next two weeks, which will give Eminger plenty of game situations. This is not a demotion to the AHL, this is a conditioning stint.
Earlier this week, the Whale added two players to their roster to help fill some depth holes in the lineup. First, they recalled defenseman Jyri Niemi from the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. Second, they signed forward Michael Pelech to a PTO.
Niemi was initially sent to Greenville on December 28. In 14 games, Niemi had a line of 1-5-6, 34 PIMs, and a +8 rating. Prior to his ECHL stint, Niemi played five games with the Whale without netting a point.
Pelech is a fourth year pro, playing 249 career ECHL games with a line of 46-119-165 with 432 PIMs. He has played nine career AHL games, notching an assist.
In a minor move, the Whale have signed forward Andrew Carroll to a PTO. The 27-year-old forward spent all of last season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL, putting together a line of 1-5-6 with 138 PIMs in 68 games. This year, the 6’0, 205 lb forward has played in the ECHL with Idaho, putting together a line of 12-19-31 with 45 PIMs in 36 games.
Carroll will likely add depth to the depleted Whale forwards if successful with his PTO.
The Rangers can’t afford to burn a year of JT Miller’s Entry Level deal
GM Glen Sather attempted to act swiftly to address the Rangers’ depth issue at forward last week, but after Jason Arnott failed his physical the team is still left searching for forwards. Acquiring bottom-six forward Benn Ferriero appears to have been a savvy move, but New York is still thin up front.
The free agent market is barren, so it’s likely that the Rangerswill need to recall another player from Connecticut at some point due to injury, suspension or some other unforeseen circumstances. Thus far, the Rangers have deployed Brandon Segal and Kris Newbury, both of who were immediately sent back to the Whale after one-game cameos with the big club. Neither impressed and coach John Tortorella didn’t seem to have any trust in them, so neither can be seen as anything more than an emergency stopgap solution.
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Photo: Mark Conrad / Connecticut Post Freelance
Over the past few months, you’ve surely noticed that the Connecticut Whale –the Rangers AHL affiliate– has been struggling all year. They have battled inconsistent scoring, Swiss cheese defense, and inconsistent goaltending. While many are pointing to this being a sign of poor drafting and development, it is actually the exact opposite. Good friend of the blog Jess Rubenstein of The Prospect Park noted this in the comments of yesterday’s Around The Farm, and it got me thinking about the development of past prospects.
This year’s Whale club was supposed to have more than just Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Dylan McIlrath on it. Very few people predicted the kind of year Carl Hagelin would have last season. Most expected him to spend a full year in the AHL last season, which would have made him eligible for the AHL this season (as he wouldn’t have passed his waiver threshold). The same can be said for Stu Bickel. Those are two key pieces.
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