If we needed a sign that John Davidson was going to be a good President of Hockey Operations, it came yesterday. Per Larry Brooks, who I have to admit has been killing it with the content all season, JD’s first order of business is to get that mess in Hartford fixed.
The Wolf Pack have been a train wreck for close to a decade now, with nepotism, poor management, and poor oversight damaging prospect growth and team success. We’ve covered this here numerous times, that a good Hartford team is critical to long term success, even more so now that the Rangers are in a rebuild and some of their more important prospects are now expected to play some time in Hartford.
Lias Andersson is the big name that has been impacted by this mess, but with Yegor Rykov, Igor Shestyorkin, Tarmo Reunanen, Vitali Kravtsov, and Kaapo Kakko either expected to spend time there or might spend a few games there, the ability to keep them happy is critical. The head coach in Hartford is going to play a critical, if not the most important, role in this rebuild and how successful it will be.
Most of the players to come out of Hartford recently were going to come out regardless. The talent was always there and it wasn’t a matter of it, but when. We may be able to say the same for some of these guys coming in, but turning some question marks like Ryan Lindgren into quality depth players is going to be critical to keeping costs down.
One other aspect that JD brought up is the need for development coaches not just in Hartford, but abroad in Europe and Russia. JD was very quick to say this would be a liaison role and would be with the permission of the Euro clubs, but it gives the Rangers more hands on approaches to their overseas prospects. That’s going to be key to keeping the revolving door of prospects in depth roles.
The Rangers, under JD, are going to move towards a nurturing environment for their prospects, giving them support from when they are drafted to if/when they are signed to their entry level deals. Given how many players have out-clauses to various Euro leagues, this is also a critical piece of development.
The Rangers are finally taking notice that their prospects need to be developed before they hit the big club. This is a huge step in the right direction, and one that will likely fly under the radar for most fans. But make no mistake, this could be the most important step in the rebuild process.