Rangers prospects in Hartford: Mixed bag down on the farm

filip chytil
Chytil is one of the few players generating a positive buzz in HFD thus far. Photo: NYDN

So while the Rangers themselves are on a somewhat upward trajectory, elsewhere in Rangerland things are not looking so promising. Purely statistically, several Rangers prospects at the AHL level are off to tough starts. Let’s take a look at a few names that the Rangers could really do with developing to NHL level.

Ryan Gropp

The biggest cause for concern thus far has to be Gropp. It’s perhaps slightly harsh to judge Gropp so early in his rookie campaign, but the former second round pick is off to a bad start in Hartford. One goal in nine games, barely registering a single shot/game; it’s fair to expect better from a guy drafted 41st overall. Concerns were there straight away, that the Rangers reached for him at the draft and his first foray into the pro game doesn’t suggest otherwise. The 2015 draft is looking like a huge disaster for the Rangers (think Robin Kovacs, Daniel Bernhardt, trading Aleksi Saarela for two months of Eric Staal) so the Rangers really do need goalie Adam Huska to save that draft year.

The blueline prospects

Many thought that 23 year old Russian Alexei Bereglazov would crack the Rangers roster to begin the seaon but he’s been in the AHL and has not turned heads thus far. Bereglazov isn’t the only Wolfpack blueliner struggling however. Ryan Graves, another player the Rangers have high hopes for, is a -8 (whatever that stat is worth these days…) in just 12 games. With Vince Pedrie (-5 and played in only 5 games) and Brandon Crawley (1 point, -5 in 10) also barely demanding attention it’s been a tough start for a collection of Rangers blueline prospects. Thinking mid term, the Rangers really need two of their Wolfpack blueliners to make it at/to the NHL level.

Tony DeAngelo

Speaking of needing a prospect to make it, it’s fair to expect DeAngelo (clearly an NHL talent, and someone that should be getting regular ice time with the Rangers) to be dominating for Hartford if he’s going to be forced to endure more seasoning at the AHL level this year. So far, it hasn’t happened for him. DeAngelo hasn’t got into his stride offensively and hasn’t been a difference maker for a Wolfpack team that has ruined a solid start to their year and who were in the midst of 0-3 and 3-6-0-1 runs, entering Sunday.

So, is anyone doing well?

Encouragingly, Filip Chytil has started to life in the AHL strongly. With 9 points in 8 games, Chytil has been one of the few bright spots for the Wolfpack offensively and is proving at his age, he can handle the rigours of the North American pro game. The Rangers will no doubt be watching Chytil’s play very carefully, given that they still have several games to review him at the NHL level (should he be called up) and given that they have really struggled to get four competent centers playing consistently in NY.

Somewhat the forgotten prospect, Adam Tambellini, in what is a huge season for his hopes of developing into an NHL calibre player, has started well with 5 goals to open his season. He’ll need to show a better all round game this season to stay relevant but a better supporting cast than last year will no doubt help Tambellini. His start is at the very least, noteworthy.

Defenseman, Neal Pionk has adapted fairly well to the pro game and is one of the better performing defensemen for Hartford. Pionk has generated some offense and reports are that his game has been fine, despite the team’s overall downward trajectory. Pionk is another guy that the Rangers would love to see make a quick development.

Another guy trying to force his way into Rangers reckoning is Vinni Lettieri. The surprise package from the Rangers preseason, Lettieri has had a good start to the AHL season, not just putting up points but playing well and carrying his confident play into the regular season. Lettieri can’t be far away from getting a look from the Rangers if they don’t address their center problem externally.

This is just a few of the younger players on the Wolfpack this season and as you can see, purely from a statistical point of view (and without delving too deeply into media reports and highlights) it’s a mixed bag one month in.

Prospects such as John Gilmour, Steve Fogarty and Gabriel Fontaine have barely deserved a mention this season so far, but as for all the players mentioned above, the one saving grace is that it’s still early days. Hartford need to be better this year (it can’t be much worse than last year) and the Rangers really need the team to improve for the sake of their prospect pipeline.


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  • Explain to me how in the case of #77, he SHOULD be getting NHL time when he seemingly is having difficulty shining as an AHL PLAYER!?

    • Yeah…..I was going to ask the same thing.

      Chris, your analyses are usually well thought out but this is confusing. If so far ADA has not done much against inferior AHL competition, then why in the world would you say he should be getting regular time with the Rangers?

      Not addressing Chris specifically, but the answer to this is probably the same answer it was for most of our “can’t miss” prospects—he is NOT ready for the NHL, therefore AV and Gorton were right to send him down, and he needs to prove himself in the “A” before we go overboard on the guy like we did with McIlrath, Clendo, Etem, etc, etc.

      • Most of the kids are not blossoming while demoted, this is quiet simple fact, and DeAngelo is an ordinary example. Unfortunately Rangers systems is not really developed from young man psychology point of view

    • Water finds it’s level and sometimes a player (regardless of sport) adapts and plays to his surroundings. DeAngelo is best served learning in an NHL environment. He’s only going to get better by being surrounded by better players. That’s my opinion. He’s clearly an a NHL level talent.

      • But, for a “clearly NHL level talent,” he sure didn’t look good out there. 5-on-5 he routinely made the wrong play and coughed up the puck, and even when limited as a supposed PP specialist, he brought nothing to the table.

        So, he was sent down to a League with lesser talent where he could get top paring minutes and find his game. Only he hasn’t yet.

        So, I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that he’s going to suddenly turn it around at the NHL level.

        With that said, he has potentially alot more to bring to the table than Kampfer, so if it were my call I’d give him another chance and see if it pans out. But, that’s not to say it’s the obvious right call. Simply put, DeAngelo hasn’t proved anything yet, and so I don’t think it’s a fair criticism to question why management hasn’t brought him up.

      • Yes, that’s fair. It CAN be true. We’ve all seen it happen many times.

        And yes, I would agree, he’s PROBABLY an NHL talent. But, at the moment, what kind of NHL talent? A borderline at best type like a McIlrath and Clendening (our two other past defensive “answers”)? Or a guy who’s polished enough to help a team win right now? So far, two other organizations didn’t exactly seem to buy into the latter as it pertains to ADA. So there is every reason for the Rangers to be cautious here, it seems to me.

        I honestly don’t understand the need to quickly advance a prospect. He’s young. The Rangers are in a push for points right now. Can the team afford to give him a “learning curve” on the NHL level at the expense of points which could be the difference between making the playoffs or not? You say he’s only going to get better playing with better players. Well, then by that theory, so would Chytil. Or Andersson. And the reality is, that’s not necessarily true. He could also just as easily seriously regress under greater expectations against superior competition. Maybe for a kid like him who’s been a bit of a hothead and a problem child, getting a dose of AHL “humble pie” may be EXACTLY what is best for him right now.

        I realize the current options ahead of him aren’t great, but I see no real downside to giving him regular playing time in the “A” and therefore fine tune the flaws in his game while not hurting the team in the process. Then, when he’s ready, bring him up.

        Again, I’m always amazed out here at the need to overrate and rush prospects. Let him really prove himself on the AHL level, like Brady Skjei did, and then it will be a no-brainer to bring him back. To me, that is the wisest approach.

        Bill Parcells said it best. Advance a young player too fast, and you can absolutely destroy that player.

  • So much for the future, definitely not the future baby bombers that the NY YANKEES have in their pipeline. Thanks Sather, if Lou Lomerillo was running the show, Hank would have had at least 2 Cups by now!!!!

  • They should dump Kampfer & Holden and bring to players up from Hartford to get NHL playing experience with McD, Shatty & Staal & Skjei and the forgotten player Smith.

  • Gropp is playing on a checking line with Fogarty(now with 3 goals) and not getting PP time. He’s a year away from being ready to succeed in the A.

    Graves is getting top pair minutes against the best forwards, when paired with Pionk he does toomuch to try and make up for his partner’s defensive deficiencies. DeAngelo has been fine, just not setting the world on fire. Nothing wrong with a defender not being noticed in his own end. If anything, that’s an improvement.

    Pedrie is meh, Gilmour has gotten better, still not good. Bereglazov? Nice knowing ya.

    Tambo is showing off his skill, still not strong enough for the NHL.

    Big problem is the goaltending is a horror show. Georgiev is a time bomb, Nell has me longing for Skapski.

    • Actually, I think you may be on to something as it pertains to ADA. Obviously, the Rangers thought he was a defensive liability. The message to him may have been to simplify his game, became more defensively responsible, and then depending on how that goes, perhaps he will get another look soon on the big club.

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