Category: Prospects

2014 draft preview: Connor Chatham, Richard Nejezchleb, Gavin Bayreuther

The draft is almost upon us, and we must apologize for the lack of draftee reviews this year. The run to the Stanley Cup Final threw off our offseason plans, and we have a lot of topics to cover in a short amount of time. This will be the first of three posts previewing some prospects the Rangers could land in the second round with the 59th overall pick in the draft. The Rangers traded their first rounder this year in the Martin St. Louis trade, so this will mark the second straight year without a pick in the first round.

Connor Chatham

Connor Chatham

Connor Chatham

Position: RW Height: 6-1 Weight: 225

Chatham is an interesting prospect, as he dropped from #30 in the midterm rankings to #46 by the time these rankings came out. It’s possible he might drop even further to the Rangers at #59, Chatham is currently with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, where he just finished his rookie year with a line of 13-18-31 in 54 games. Chatham’s fall in the rankings has to do with his lack of production in the first half of the season, putting up just five goals in 33 games. He’s a big kid that knows how to use his body, as his physical game was still there during the slump. It’s worth noting that his skating ability is pretty good for a kid his size, but his quickness needs to be worked on. He has a decent head on his shoulders, making safe passes instead of homerun passes. He’s also not really a “sniper” per-say, but he will go to the net and look for garbage goals.

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Rangers to participate in Traverse City Tournament

Per Mike Morreale, the Rangers will participate in the Traverse City Tournament again this year. The Rangers have participated in this tournament since 2008 (I believe), excluding the lockout year. Last year the Rangers prospects didn’t have a good showing, getting bounced before the elimination round.

The tournament is open to most prospects (those playing overseas or in the NCAA do not play). Last year’s roster will likely be augmented with the 2014 draftees.

Rangers with four draft picks this year

The Rangers will have four picks in the coming draft, with one pick each in the second (#59), third (#89), fourth (#119), and fifth (#122) rounds. Here’s a breakdown of how each pick was acquired/moved:

  • 1st round (#28): Traded to Tampa Bay as part of deal for Martin St. Louis
  • 2nd round (#59): Their own pick
  • 3rd round (#89): Their own pick
  • 4th round (#119): Their own pick
  • 5th round (#122): Acquired from Florida for Casey Wellman in 2012
  • 5th round (#149): Traded to San Jose for Ryane Clowe
  • 6th round (#167): Acquired from Columbus in Marian Gaborik trade, sent to Minnesota for Justin Falk
  • 6th round (#179): Traded to San Jose for Brandon Mashinter
  • 7th round (#209): Traded to LA for Dan Carcillo

This will be the second of three straight years the Rangers do not have a first round pick after ten straight seasons picking in the first round. The 2013 pick was sent to Columbus in the Rick Nash trade, and the 2014/2015 picks were sent to Tampa for MSL.

Rangers prospect focus shows no sign of changing

Kreider is only of several draftees from the US system (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Kreider is only of several draftees from the US system (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When you look at the current Rangers roster, there are plenty of examples how the Rangers have successfully looked to the American hockey program and how the franchise has a preference for American trained players. Whether it be the drafting of Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller or Carl Hagelin, the free agent signing of Cam Talbot or the now infamous acquisition of Ryan McDonagh, the Rangers have had significant success with their recent focus on US trained players.

It goes beyond the current roster. The Rangers system currently boasts several players who have either come through the US development program or the NCAA system. Whether it be Conor Allen, Ryan Bourque or Danny Kristo already at the pro level, or prospects such as ‘Boo’ Nieves, Steve Fogarty and Brady Skjei still in college, the Rangers have continued to look toward the US system for success.

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Dylan McIlrath Bobble-Fist Giveaway

Last week, I was speaking with the Hartford Wolf Pack on Twitter regarding their promo night next month, in which they are giving away Dylan McIlrath Bobble-Fists. The organization was happy to provide us with three bobble-fists to give away to our loyal readers here at BSB. The three lucky winners will provide me with name/mailing address, and the bobble-fists will be mailed to the winners after the promo on February 15.

To enter, simply comment on this post once. We can track IP addresses of posters, so don’t comment more than once, or you’ll be disqualified. Three winners will be selected at random and emailed in the next week or so.

Rangers prospect Adam Tambellini leaving NCAA for WHL

Stick-tap to friend of the blog Vic Carneiro for bringing this to our attention, as Rangers 2013 third-round pick Adam Tambellini is leaving North Dakota to head to the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. Chris Dilks of SBN College Hockey has the initial scoop, stating that Tambellini’s size has been an issue in the NCAA, and he will have a greater opportunity to grow in the WHL. In 16 games, the 168-lb Tambellini had a line of 2-2-4 and 31 PIMs with UND.

The move is curious to say the least. In the NCAA, Tambellini would have had another three seasons of eligibility. In the WHL, Tambellini has the remainder of this season and one more year before he’s a WHL overage player. He will also be a 19-year-old skater playing in a league where 19 years old is on the veteran side of the spectrum.

2014 WJC: Buchnevich notches assists in win; Skjei strong in win

Both Ranger prospects participating in the 2014 World Junior Championships contributed to their teams victories this afternoon. Pavel Buchnevich (2013 3rd) had 2 assists and 4 PIMs in Russia’s 11-0 blowout of Norway. Brady Skjei was a +1 USA’s 5-1 win over the Czech Republic.

Skjei, who got comparisons to Ryan McDonagh on the air during the game, is a very fluid skater who is rarely out of position on defense. He kept his game very simple, putting pucks on net when he had the chance (the 4th USA goal came off a rebound from a shot of his that was deflected). The Rangers, according to the announce team, have been very happy that Skjei has been developing in the McDonagh mold. If you remember, McDonagh was not a noted scorer in college either.

The Russia game was not televised.

Revisiting why few prospects are NHL ready this season

Kreider made the jump this year. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Kreider made the jump this year. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

About a year ago, I wrote a post as to why the Hartford Wolf Pack were struggling, and why the Rangers were going to have very few AHL options for call ups. It seems appropriate to update the post for this year, since the Rangers organization is running into the same concern this year. The problem is not poor drafting. In fact it is the polar opposite. The issue is that prospects developed a little too quickly, leaving a gap in the development process.

Believe it or not, quick development can slow the pipeline down temporarily. It’s not a bad problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless. Over the past few seasons, we’ve seen three prospects make the jump from the NCAA level to the NHL level with little or no time in the AHL required. It is incredibly rare for that to happen, but Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, and Carl Hagelin all made significant impacts their first year out of college. No one, not even at the upper management level, expected that to happen.

Therein lies the current issue: without those three needing a little more time, the Rangers were left with a barren AHL team last year. One composed of two or three legitimate prospects that needed time and a lot of AHL/NHL tweeners. The problem extends to this year too, however with a different team makeup.

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Buchnevich invited to Russia WJC camp; Skjei to USA camp

Pavel Buchnevich (2013, 3rd) was invited to Russia’s World Junior Championship tryout camp. Buchnevich was one of 29 players invited to Russia’s camp. The 18-year-old forward sustained a concussion last month, but was in the lineup today for Severstal, indicating he is good to go.

Brady Skjei was invited to the USA WJC camp, one of eight defensemen to be invited. Skjei is expected to make the club.

The Rangers do not have any prospects that were selected for Canada’s WJC camp. As far as I know, Sweden has not released their camp roster yet.

HF: Rangers have #27 farm system

HockeysFuture has released this year’s organization farm system rankings, and the Rangers have slipped from #17 last year to #27 this year. They note that strengths are prospects with intriguing NHL potential at forward and defense, and some high-risk, high-reward prospects (Anthony Duclair, Pavel Buchnevich). Weaknesses are mostly depth related, since the club has graduated a large number of prospects to the NHL level, especially at defense. The note goaltending as an issue, but it should be made clear that Cam Talbot does not qualify as a prospect anymore (by HF standards) due to his age.

I tend to agree with what HF has said, especially since we all have a habit of overvaluing prospects for the teams we root for. That said, the biggest weakness (aside from blue line depth) is the lack of “star” power. Chris Kreider’s stock has taken a hit, but it doesn’t matter since he will graduate this year anyway. Kristo is the only bonafide top-six forward prospect. Others are all bottom-six material. Of course, many teams would kill to have this problem, since the Rangers have a very young team at the NHL level, and have the time to restock the farm.