Ryan Bourque is riding a wave of momentum after his strong second-half performance last season
Immediately after July 1, it looked like the Rangers would have several forward spots open to competition at training camp. However, the eventual signings of Matt Lombardi, Lee Stempniak and Kevin Hayes have made it much more difficult for anyone else to earn a spot in the lineup. The likes of J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg still figure to duke it out with some of those depth signings for the final spot or two, but it’s going to be exceedingly difficult for anyone else to enter the fray. With that said, here’s a look at the handful of forwards and defensemen that could conceivably be in the mix with a standout performance at camp.
Ryan Malone – This one is a real long-shot not only because of the legal questions surrounding Malone, but because the Rangers would have to ship out a player to fit Malone under the 50-contract limit. Malone was once an effective power forward and is presumably being invited to training camp on the off chance the Blueshirts catch lightning in a bottle in their search to replace Benoit Pouliot, but unless Malone dominates, it’s highly unlikely he makes the team.
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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.
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The battle for forward positions has been the talk of training camp thus far, and several of New York’s youngsters have made strong cases to be on the opening night roster. Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Danny Kristo and Marek Hrivik have all impressed, while 2011 first-round pick J.T. Miller hasn’t gotten the opportunity due to injuries. With Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan out for the first chunk of the season, one or more of these players will likely be thrust into significant roles come October 3rd.
Chris Kreider has been skating with Brad Richards and Rick Nash for much of camp and it seems like a foregone conclusion that he’ll be locked into a top-six role at the start of the season. But after Kreider, the roster battle is still ongoing. Read more »
via Blueshirts United
With the first round of cuts made, the attention now turns to trimming the roster down even further from those who will either serve as AHL call ups or rookies who might get their first cuppas this season. With news that Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin might miss the season opener, the Rangers are going to be looking for two extra forwards to break camp. There is a chance that these forwards might be Arron Asham and Darroll Powe, but there is also a chance that the coaching staff will want to take a longer look at some of the kids who impress at camp.
1. Oscar Lindberg
Lindberg is one prospect who we have talked about extensively at this blog since the Rangers acquired him from Phoenix for Ethan Werek. Lindberg was top-ten in the SHL in scoring last season. Upon arrival in the US, he promptly dismantled the competition at the Traverse City Tournament scoring five goals and seven points in the four game tournament. Lindberg has already had a strong camp, which just adds to the intrigue for the young Swede. Throw in his ability to win face offs and his play without the puck (the SHL is a notoriously defensive league), and he is someone who could force his way on to the roster.
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The 2013 draft is now in the books and the Rangers have added five more youngsters to their prospect system. Let’s take a look at where all the prospects stand heading into the offseason.
On the cusp
After bursting onto the scene during the 2012 playoffs, Kreider struggled out of the gate with the CT Whale to start the 2013 season. He joined the Rangers following the lockout, but never earned major minutes under coach John Tortorella and was frequently sent back and forth from New York to Connecticut. Still the crown jewel of the Rangers’ system, Kreider should be handed a much bigger offensive role next season under Alain Vigneault.
Miller’s quick climb up the ladder to New York was extremely impressive and though his 2012-2013 season was cut short by a wrist injury, he should also have a job to lose in September under Vigneault. Miller’s game is very much a work in progress – he was guilty of some horrible defensive mistakes and didn’t contribute much offensively, but Miller looked like he belonged in the NHL. He’s proven to be a very quick study all along and will be expected to continue his growth as a Ranger next season. Read more »
Marek Hrivik, who many speculated would get a long look at camp (well, under normal camp) is out with a concussion. This could be one of the reasons why Hrivik may not be invited to the Rangers mini-camp this year. However with camps set to occur during the AHL season, and lasting only a week, it is unlikely that the Rangers would call up the majority of Connecticut’s roster. Chris Kreider and Matt Gilroy are the only two who have left the Whale at the moment, and there’s no reason to believe anyone else will leave for mini camp.
In other news, the Whale have officially signed forward Shayne Wiebe to an AHL contract. Wiebe had been with the Whale on a PTO since November 17, when he was called up from the Greenville Road Warriors. In 14 games since his call up, Wiebe has a pair of assists and two PIMs. While with the Road Warriors, Wiebe had a line of 7-5-12 and 10 PIMs in 12 games.
Obviously we have no idea yet whether there will be a 2012/13 NHL season starting on time, a training camp or a pre-season. Hey, right now we have no idea whether there will be regular season play at all. Regardless, there are plenty of prospects in the organisation that offer legitimate intrigue. Whether they will be fighting for NHL jobs, making waves with the Connecticut Whale or sent back to junior/college there is still plenty to keep an eye on. A few intrigue me more than others.
With Tim Erixon traded, eternal patient Michael Sauer still hurt and Dylan McIlrath doing his best to provide Sauer with some company in the treatment room the Rangers defensive depth looks shakier – both short and long term – than it had done just six months ago; all this despite an envious top four at the NHL level. Enter Skjei.
Unfortunately for Skjei, the aforementioned issues at the defense position for the Rangers may mean more of a spotlight shining on the Wisconsin prospect than he may have hoped/expected. Thanks to a promising evaluation camp for Team USA this summer, many eyes will be on Skjei to see how he develops within the powerhouse Wisconsin programme.
Skjei is possibly the most important prospect in the entire organisation – assuming you take it for granted that Chris Kreider has ‘graduated’ to the Rangers full time. The Rangers need Skjei to develop well. Not just because he’s a first round pick but because the club need some defensive prospects to step up in the near future. His season will be interesting to follow.
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One of the most frequently asked questions this offseason after, “is Rick Nash a Ranger yet?” has been, “who the heck is Kyle Jean?”
The answer is simple: he’s the latest gem uncovered by Gordie Clark and New York’s superior scouting staff, which has developed something of a Midas touch over the last couple of years.
It wasn’t long ago that the Rangers were completely incapable of even getting a high first-round pick right. But now, Clark and company are unearthing NHL caliber prospects not just through the draft’s later rounds, but even from the ranks of those that have long been completely ignored throughout their junior careers.
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The Rangers are beginning to make waves with their prospects and ATO candidates. Just a day after announcing the signing of Jesper Fast, the Rangers have announced that they have agreed to terms with UFA winger Marek Hrivik. Hrivik earned a lot of press coverage when he exploded in the AHL playoffs, leading Connecticut in goals (5) and points (9) in nine playoff games.
Hrivik will likely join the Whale for next season as well, but he’s a player you should keep your eye on. He could provide some nice scoring depth in the future. The press release is after the jump.
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Just who is Marek Hrivik, and have the Rangers (via the Whale) found another steal? Let’s get the basics out of the way. Hrivik is a Slovakian winger (the Rangers seem to have had some recent success with that part of the world, no?) and stands at 6’1 and weights around 190lbs. Hrivik went undrafted but was a highly productive player in the QMJHL for Moncton.
In three full years the winger scored 26, 38 and 29 goals respectively and over that three year period was a point per game player. Perhaps tellingly, just like he’s now doing for the Whale, Hrivik has always seemed to excel come playoff time as his 26 points in 29 junior playoff games suggest.
It’s not a surprise that he’s commanding the interest of the Rangers. While his introduction to pro-hockey was modest (1 goal in 8 regular season games after joining the Whale) Hrivik earned rave reviews for his play and has now backed that up in the playoffs as the Slovak has exploded in to a dynamic force for the Whale. With 5 goals and 8 points in 7 games Hrivik is leading the Whale as they too look for a deep playoff run to coincide with the parent Rangers.
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