Is Martin St. Louis a Hall of Famer?



9 Questions Facing The Rangers At Traverse City
The annual prospect tournament begins tomorrow and we'll learn a lot about New York's young talent over the next few days...

A quick start at Traverse City could be just the start of a big year for Tim Erixon

A quick start at Traverse City could be just the start of a big year for Tim Erixon

For more on the Traverse City Tournament:

Traverse City Tournament roster with jersey numbers >

A Look At The Traverse City Tournament Roster >

Scouting Report: Jordan Hickmott >

Scouting Report: Collin Bowman >

Scouting Report: Tayler Jordan >

Scouting Report: Michael St. Croix >

Who Are The Traverse City Unknowns? >

Thoughts On The Possible Game 1 Traverse City Lines Used At Today's Practice >



1.  How close is Dylan McIlrath?

The 2010 first-round pick has the organization giddy about his future impact as a fearsome physical defenseman, but he’ll be allowed to develop slowly.  Expect McIlrath to remain in the WHL this year regardless of what happens at Traverse City, but this will be a great chance to see how he’s progressed over the last 12 months.  McIlrath’s fighting ability and ferocious hits are his calling card, but he’s also a more fluid skater than many know and he’s been working on an impressive slap shot.

2.  How will Christian Thomas fair against improved competition?

Thomas absolutely tore up the OHL last year, but there will be lingering questions about his NHL potential until he proves that his size isn’t an obstacle against higher levels of competition.  So far Thomas has been an extremely pleasant surprise, but his goal-scoring ability was known even when he was drafted.  Thomas’s confidence is understandably high and the organization is very pleased with his development, but it will be interesting to see if he can take the next step.

3. Are the Swedes ready to shine on Broadway?

Tim Erixon and Carl Hagelin have arguably the best chances to make the Rangers out of all the prospects at Traverse City, but they’ll need strong showings at the September tournament to prepare them mentally for training camp later in the month.  Both players are considered to be NHL-ready, but each could face stiff competition for jobs on Broadway.  Impressive performances at Traverse City can only help their chances.

4.  Are any of the non-Rangers’ prospects worth signing?

Tayler Jordan is known for being a team player, but he’ll bring few NHL-caliber tools to the table other than his fists.  Jordan Hickmott is past the age when most legitimate prospects are discovered, but an offensive outburst in 2010-2011 earned him an invite to Traverse City.  Matt Rust is a superb defensive forward, but he may not have enough other tools.  Defenseman Collin Bowman has decent size and did post 48 points last year, but the Rangers are knee-deep in defensive prospects.  For any of them to warrant contract consideration from the Blueshirts they’d have to really open eyes at Traverse City. 

5.  What can we expect from J.T. Miller?

At June’s NHL Draft the Rangers took J.T. Miller a bit earlier than he was expected to go, but the American fits into New York’s player mold perfectly.  This summer Miller switched from his original plan of playing for the University of North Dakota this season and will now skate for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL.  The move is part of Miller’s plan to turn pro next season and although that seems like a bit of an unrealistic goal right now, Miller is clearly determined and Traverse City will be his chance to start the year off with a bang.

6.  Does New York have a viable goalie prospect?

Jason Missiaen is more known for his 6-8, 220 lb. frame than for his ability in net, but the Rangers were obviously intrigued when they signed him last spring.  Whether he has any real future is in question.  Scott Stajcer had an up and down year and some believe that he still has a very bright future while others think he’s an average prospect at best.  Stajcer still has to prove himself on a consistent basis, but he’s the Rangers’ best hope of having a decent netminder in the pipeline. 

7.  Did the Rangers uncover a gem or two at the draft?

Though each faces a major uphill climb, there is some sentiment that Peter Ceresnak, Michael St. Croix and Shane McColgan could all turn out to be major steals.  Ceresnak was selected in the fourth round of the CHL Import Draft by the Peterborough Petes and seems committed to making a run at the NHL.  His footwork leaves a lot to be desired, but Ceresnak’s defensive game is solid.  St. Croix is known for his offensive ability and though he’s a bit one-dimensional, his pure talent could have pushed him into the second or third round of the draft.  McColgan was thought to be one of the draft’s best prospects heading into the 2010-2011 campaign, but he really dropped off the map as the season progressed.  Still, no one thought that he’d last until the fifth round and if he can overcome his diminutive size, he could also have a very bright future.

8.  Will Andrew Yogan emerge?

Yogan has flown under the radar since being drafted in the fourth round in 2010.  That’s largely been a product of injuries, but Yogan was traded this offseason to Peterborough after developing a reputation as a bit of a locker room problem with the Erie Otters.  Deserved or not, Yogan will be under the microscope this year, but he’s got a chance to become one of New York’s better prospects.  The first step will be to solidify his relationship with Rangers’ brass and impress coaches with his play, attitude and work ethic at Traverse City.

9.  Are the Hartford-bound boys, Ryan Bourque and Jason Wilson, going to help the CT Whale contend for a Calder Cup?

Both Bourque and Wilson seem likely to begin the season with the Whale as both have outgrown their junior teams and aren’t ready to make a run at the NHL.  Bourque provides tremendous character, the ability to play in all situations, and playmaking ability while Wilson tries to model himself after Brandon Prust and plays an effective grinding game.  They should be solid additions to a Whale club that looks poised for a big year, but making the jump from juniors to professional hockey can be difficult and Traverse City is an important stepping stone.


Click here for our full Summer 2011 Archive >

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Posted by Kevin Baumer | September 9, 2011 at 12:52 am

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