About a year ago, thanks to some sleuthing, I found out the that the Rangers have signed a prospect I had my eyes on, Michael Joly, to an AHL contract. At the time, I was extremely excited about this. Joly was always a super talented player in the QMJHL, but was plagued with injuries despite a point-per-game pace. There were some other warning signs too. Joly was only 5’11, and although he produced a lot, the QMJHL is seen as an easier league to score in. With that said, Joly is a smart guy, he knew that while his offensive skill is there he would need to improve defensively and over his last season he did that enough to get the AHL deal.
Joly’s season didn’t start off too well and ended up in the ECHL to start the year. In between call ups to Hartford, Joly scored 40 points in 29 games for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. With the Wolf Pack faltering and in desperate need of offense, they called up Joly as he had nothing left to prove in the ECHL. One of the biggest problems for Hartford this season is the structure of the lines, as they do not distribute talented vets in the lineup. The kids end up faltering as a result. But during this 2nd call up, a desperate Hartford gave Joly a chance with AHL star Taylor Beck and the two meshed very well.
Joly’s dynamic play and skating worked well with the big body in Beck doing some more damage along the boards. Joly became one of the bright spots on offense ever since that lineup decision. Joly had 8 points in his 10 games after being called up to give him 12 in 28 on the season. But some his best games came against some great teams.
Against the Islanders’ AHL team, Joly had two goals and an assist en route to a 5-2 win. He built on that with an incredible game over the Capitals minor league team with a goal that is not the norm for him by driving to the net. Joly is no perimeter player, he knows what he has to do to get to the next level offensively and is doing it. He goes to the dirty areas now while still being helpful on defense. Joly’s season likely came to an end in this game against Hershey as he took a shot to the face and fractured his cheek and orbital bone.
While guys are being signed out of college with no pro experience, Joly is younger than most of those free agents and has shown that at the very least he is a top-nine AHL forward that adds help both at 5v5 and the power play. Joly has garnered more ice time in the AHL, and has deserved an ELC more than some other players. A lot of contracts come off the Rangers’ books this year, and maybe it is best served to reward a young player that has battled his way up with an entry level deal.