Every Saturday throughout the season, here at Blueseatblogs we’ll check in on how the Hartford Wolf Pack and specifically the Rangers key prospects are doing. Anyone who regularly checks in here at BSB knows how much value I place on a good farm system so it will be interesting to see how the ‘Pack fare this season given how many Rangers candidates are lining up in Hartford to begin the year. With Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, Evgeny Grachev, Ryan McDonagh, Dale Weise and Pavel Valentenko to name just a few, there is a lot of talent to watch develop over the coming months.
The Wolf Pack made a few cuts on the 5th October as they get ready for the start of the new AHL season. Including in those cuts was defenseman Sam Klassen (who had an excellent final year in the WHL) and forward Chris Chappell who were sent to Greenville of the ECHL. Greenville are the new ECHL affiliate of both the Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers who are sharing the affiliate. While being sent down to the ECHL is a blow to Klassen it certainly isn’t the end of his Rangers hopes. A certain Dan Girardi (he of the new rich 4 year deal) made his way from the OHL, to the ECHL, to the AHL before becoming a mainstay in the NHL with the Rangers.
The Wolf Pack opens the regular season Saturday evening against none other than new AHL club the Charlotte Checkers who until last year were the Rangers’ ECHL affiliate. The ‘Pack has the following 23 players remaining on the roster:
Forwards (13): Dane Byers, Devin DiDiomete, Brodie Dupont, Ryan Garlock, Evgeny Grachev, Chris McKelvie, Kris Newbury, Justin Soryal, Kelsey Tessier, Dale Weise, Jeremy Williams, Brandon Wong, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen
The Pack has a lot of talent throughout the side. They are well set with Chad Johnson in goal while a defence consisting of Wade Redden (who, if motivated, should be excellent at this level) Ryan McDonagh, Tomas Kundratek, Pavel Valentenko and Jyri Niemi has a lot of talent at both ends of the ice.
The forward ranks also appear to be stacked. Dane Byers, Brodie Dupont, Dale Weise and Evgeny Grachev offer both skill and size as they return to the Pack to begin another season and along with skilled players such as Zuccarello-Aasen and Jeremy Williams they will all be keen to get to the NHL as soon as possible.
The Wolf Pack should be able to ice 3 lines that can score and not many teams in theory should be able to match this talent and upside. The danger of course, will be that some prospects get lost in the numbers game so there are challenges facing Ken germander and his staff to make sure the ice time is divided up appropriately. Check back over the course of the season to see how the future Rangers are faring.