Archive for Prospects
Re-evaluating drafts is always a difficult endeavor. Hindsight is always 20/20, and people tend to call out the failures in the draft rather than the successes. For the Rangers, the 2009 draft was an interesting one. This draft started to set the tone of the types of players on which the Rangers built their farm system. Chris Kreider, their first round pick, was skilled, big, smart, and fast. He had all the tools, but was a bit of a project pick since he was committed to Boston College and at least three or four years away from turning pro.
This is a bit subjective, but I’d say it takes about five years before you can fairly evaluate a draft. Again, this is all with the benefit of hindsight, but it’s fun nonetheless.
As the New York Rangers continue to struggle for offense and as Martin St Louis remains sidelined, prospect Oscar Lindberg has continued to play well for the Hartford WolfPack at both ends of the rink. Lindberg scored another two points Friday night, including his twentieth goal of the season as the ‘Pack won their Friday night game against Leigh Valley, 3-2.
Lindberg did all his damage on the powerplay last night (take note Rangers special teamers…) and has really developed his offense at the AHL level. He has reached the 20 goal plateau for the first time, scoring two more goals than last year but in 13 games less, while he should pass his career high of 44 points imminently. Like JT Miller, it appears Lindberg is outgrowing the AHL.
Lindberg has played consistently well all season for the Pack. His style and skill set should fit seamlessly in to New York and with the Rangers relying on depth for offense Lindberg should be getting a look given that cap space is available and they have enough transactions available to make a move.
The New York Rangers have signed 2013 third round pick Adam Tambellini to a three-year entry-level contract. Tambellini, currently with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, has a line of 45-34-79 in 65 games this season as an overager. With Anthony Duclair now in Arizona, Tambellini is one of the better forward prospects in the system, with a good blend of size and skill.
Tambellini left the University of North Dakota halfway through last season to join the Hitmen. In the NCAA, Tambellini had a line of 2-2-4 in 16 games. In the 31 games with Calgary that season, he had a line of 17-22-39.
Tambellini will join the Hartford Wolf Pack next season, where he will likely need at least a year (probably more) before hopefully pushing for a spot on the NHL roster.
For those of you that have been around for a while, you know that in the beginning, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues was a bit helper in getting us off the ground here. Naturally, I’m a Yankee fan, and I read RAB daily. Recently, Mike penned a post about prospect fatigue, and how fans and experts alike sometimes get tired of mentioning the same prospect for multiple years in a row. This is not a concept that is unique to baseball.
This same concept, I believe, applies to Dylan McIlrath. Drafted in the first round in 2010, McIlrath was a project pick who would take several years to develop. A huge, punishing defenseman meant to be that big time crease clearer that the Rangers haven’t had since Jeff Beukeboom. Five years later, McIlrath is still developing along his slow timetable.
For the first few years, McIlrath was always ranked somewhat highly in the prospect rankings coming from Hockeys Future, Corey Pronman, or more recently, Adam Herman. But the longer he was in the system, even when he was still in the AHL, he dropped in the rankings. On Hockey Future, McIlrath is ranked as the 5th best defenseman. Pronman had him 9th overall. Herman 8th. McIlrath, up until this year, usually was in the top-five.
So what changed?
ESPN runs their top prospects lists a few times per year, and this time around they rectified something that was perceived as a slap in the face to Ranger fans. The rankings –written by Corey Pronman, who is one of the best prospect evaluators around, so no lazy ESPN comments please– ranked Pavel Buchnevich at #25 and left Anthony Duclair off the list (honorable mention).
This time around (Insider only), following Duclair’s fantasatic preseason and promising first stint in the NHL bumped him all the way to #12 on the list. Buchnevich, who is having an outstanding year in the KHL, moved to #15 in the list. Duclair is expected to compete for a roster spot next year. Buchnevich’s contract with his KHL club is up this year, and he’s expected to join the Rangers organization and push for a roster spot out of camp.
That’s why these lists are always worth a read, it can show you progress relative to other prospects around the world. With one preseason and a handful of regular season games, Duclair jumped 88 spots to #12 on the top prospects list. Buchnevich jumped 10 spots. It’s also fun to read the “experts” dissection of Pronman’s rankings (Insider only).
In their latest team prospect rankings, Corey Pronman and Hockey’s Future each had the Rangers 28th, while The Hockey News put the Blueshirts dead last. Granted, each of those outlets has its own set of criteria, but the general consensus among the so-called experts was that the Rangers didn’t have much talent on the way.
Many that followed the baby Blueshirts more closely knew the future was actually very bright, and a few months later the rest of the hockey world has taken notice as well.
2013 third-round picks Pavel Buchnevich and Anthony Duclair just finished lighting up the World Junior Championships, while the pair of goalies selected in the 2014 draft, Brandon Halverson and Igor Shesterkin also impressed in the top prospect tournament. That duo, along with 2013 sixth-round pick Mackenzie Skapski have turned what was considered a major organizational weakness into one of the best young groups in the league.
Buchnevich and Duclair continue to look like stars in the making, as does 2010 first-round pick Kevin Hayes, whom the club poached from Chicago in August.
Meanwhile it appears the light bulb may have finally clicked on for J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast has become an NHL regular, 2013 third-rounder Adam Tambellini ranks seventh in the WHL in goal scoring, 2011 third-rounder Steven Fogarty is captaining Notre Dame, 2012 first-rounder Brady Skjei has established himself as one of the best college players in the country, and 2013 fourth-rounder Ryan Graves was just named one of the QMJHL’s three stars of the month.
Indeed, things are looking quite rosy for the Rangers’ prospect pipeline.
Tampa Bay has been generally considered to have the best future core of any team in the league after the Lightning integrated a slew of impact rookies into it’s lineup last year, but are the Rangers really that far behind? Here are each team’s players of note 25 years old or younger:
Rangers: Ryan McDonagh (25), Derek Stepan (24), Chris Kreider (23), Kevin Hayes (22), J.T. Miller (21), Jesper Fast (23), Brady Skjei (20), Anthony Duclair (19), Pavel Buchnevich (19), Ryan Graves (19), Igor Shesterkin (19), Brandon Halverson (18)
Lightning: Alex Killorn (25), Tyler Johnson (24), Victor Hedman (24), Radko Gudas (24), Ondrej Palat (23), Brett Connolly (22), Vladislav Namestnikov (22), Kristers Gudļevskis (22), Nikita Kucherov (21), Cedric Paquette (21), Andrei Vasilevskiy (20), Slater Koekkoek (20), Jonathan Drouin (19), Adam Erne (19), Anthony DeAngelo (19)
Of course, 24-year-old Steve Stamkos is Tampa’s trump card, but considering the Rangers have been choosing near the end of the first round for years as opposed to the top of it, that’s not too shabby.
Of course, player development is a tricky business and even the guys that appear to be well on their way can and will hit stumbling blocks, but for now it’s safe to say there is much more in the cupboard than many prospect gurus believed.
Anthony Duclair and Canada defeated Igor Shesterkin, Pavel Buchnevich, and Russia last night by a score of 5-4 to take gold at the 2015 World Junior Championship. Duclair scored Canada’s first goal of the game on Shesterkin 23 seconds into the game. Shesterkin faced two more shots, allowing another goal, before being pulled. Buchnevich recorded an assist in the game.
For the tournament, Duclair finished with a line of 4-4-8 in 7 games. Buchnevich finished with 1-5-6 in 7 games.
Shesterkin finished with a 1.98 GAA and a .938 SV%. Brandon Halverson played in one game, stopping 14 shots for the shutout.
Three Rangers prospects will square off gold at the 2015 World Junior Championships, as Anthony Duclair and Canada will take on Igor Shesterkin, Pavel Buchnevich, and Russia. Canada defeated Slovakia 5-1 in the semifinals, with Duclair notching a goal and an assist.
Shesterkin stopped 26 of Sweden’s 27 shots in Russia’s 4-1 victory. Buchnevich was held off the score sheet.
The gold medal game is tonight at 8:15 on the NHL network.
Igor Shesterkin continued his sensational 2015 World Juniors tournament yesterday, stopping 39 of 41 shots as Russia sent Brandon Halverson and Team USA home in the quarterfinals. Pavel Buchnevich notched an assist in the first period of the win. Halverson did not play in the contest.
Anthony Duclair and Canada destroyed Denmark in their game, sending the Danes packing with an 8-0 win. Duclair recorded an assist in the win.
The tournament resumes tomorrow, with Russia taking on Sweden and Canada taking on Slovakia. The Canadians, who were heavily favored heading into the tournament, will likely head to the finals as well. Russia is looking to take down a Sweden team that beat them in the preliminary round.
Canada, Russia, and Team USA all played on New Year’s Eve, but all were already guaranteed spots in the elimination round by that point. The games were for standings. But it was also for pride, as Canada took down Team USA 5-3. Anthony Duclair was held off the scoresheet for Canada, and Brandon Halverson did not play in the game.
USA faces off against Russia today at 1pm in the quarterfinals, which will send at least one New York Rangers prospect home. Canada has a relatively easy matchup against Denmark, tonight at 8pm. If victorious, USA will face the winner of Sweden/Finland, and Canada will get the winner of Czech Republic/Slovakia.