OK so which of the New York Ranger prospects is ready to
make the jump to the NHL? Who makes the roster when opening night takes place? They
are the 2 questions being asked the most this week so why not?
The first name is Conor Allen as the young defender from
UMass-Amherst had a solid first season with the Hartford Wolfpack. Allen came
close to making the Rangers during his first training camp. Allen is not the
biggest dog on the ice at 6’1 200 but he does a strong job reading the ice and
adapting himself to the situation nor will he be dominated by bigger players.
Good skater and while you wish he had more offense, he will
chip in the occasional goal. Allen at best is a 2nd pair defender
but he has passed Dylan McIlrath on the depth chart.
The player I think will steal a roster spot will be Mat
Bodie a defenseman from Union College. Bodie is the most offensive minded
defensive prospect that the Rangers have which gives him an edge over Allen and
McIlrath. The biggest concern is going to be his size or in his case the lack
A very small 6’0 170 is going to be a concern for many but
if the Rangers pair Bodie with a Kevin Klein then it becomes a possibility as
Bodie can score from anywhere on the ice. A very smart player who was the most
sought after college free agent with good reason as he led his Union College to
the NCAA Championship.
Dylan McIlrath is the 3rd choice among defensemen
because of his size and willingness to play a physical game. What hurts
McIlrath is his foot speed and that he was drafted to play in a zone system but
Alain Vigneault’s system is “man to man” coverage.
If McIlrath can improve his footwork then the Rangers have a
defender who is excellent at reading the plays in front of him. With a wingspan
that is 7ft wide then you have a player who is almost impossible to get around.
And this is the last guy you want checking you as he is stronger than an ox.
Among the forwards, there is no question that J.T. Miller
has the tools to become an NHL player but last season he spent more time in
Alain Vigneault’s doghouse than on the ice. Miller can play a power game or a
finesse game depending on the situation. His hand/eye coordination is scary
good as Miller likes to pick a spot on the ice and will already be in the
shooting motion by the time the pass reaches him.
On defense, Miller plays his “reads” well as he is suited
for Vigneault’s system but where he gets himself into trouble is his maturity.
Granted he is only 21 but when the coach taps you on the shoulder and gives you
a job to do then you do what the coach wants or you wind up in Hartford.
Jesper Fast is going to be a fan favorite when he becomes a
regular Ranger. A player who’s best at playing a high energy game, Fast may not
be as fast as Carl Hagelin but he is better than Hagelin in moving through traffic.
It might be fun to watch Fast with Hagelin and Chris Kreider skating in open
ice as that would give other team coaches plenty of ulcers.
Fast was close last year and I believe he will be on the
Ranger roster coming out of training camp. Fast will see plenty of time killing
penalties because of his strength on the forecheck.
The forward who might sneak up and surprise everyone would
be Oscar Lindberg as in each of the last 3 seasons he is the one who has
improved the most among all of the Ranger prospects. Would not be surprised at
all if Lindberg makes the team mainly because of his skill winning faceoff. He
isn’t the same size as Brian Boyle but he brings a legit offensive game with
him which will keep the other teams honest in defending him.
I also like Danny Kristo who is a legit goal scorer but he
has consistency issues and being a small 5’11 as the Rangers aren’t going to
want to carry a bunch of smallish players. There have been whispers about his
work ethic but you don’t play at North Dakota if you have a suspect work ethic
as the coach there will boot you faster than you can whistle.
The Rangers need offense so I am hoping Kristo gets a shot
because I believe he could play on the power play with Kreider and Derek
Now the part that I dislike the most because people
automatically assume that the prospect is a bust. Repeat please “They are JUST
NOT READY for the NHL at this time.”
Anthony Duclair please stop looking at his 99 points and
realize that while he is a very dangerous offensive weapon, he plays in the
QMJHL where offense is easy and defense is sometimes a forgotten item. Duclair
needs to improve on his defensive zone coverages, add some muscle to his frame
and stay healthy as there is no need to rush him.
Let Duclair play another season in the QMJHL where his team
will be hosting the 2015 Memorial Cup; let Duclair go play for Team Canada in
the World Under-20 championships and let him be a leader for his Quebec
Remparts. In other words just let him grow up as a player and a person and not
rush him to the NHL.
Ryan Graves will be a Ranger within a couple of years but
while his defense is NHL first rate, Graves needs to work on his offensive
game. Graves is a smart bright young man who will take everything he learns at
the prospect/rookie camp and go improve himself.
Graves just turned 19 and while he has NHL size, he needs
NHL muscle so another year allows him to grow into his body.
So what about Ryan Haggerty and Chris McCarthy you ask? I
think Chris McCarthy will be in the mix for a roster spot out of training camp
but I wonder about his foot speed for the NHL level. I caught him playing a
couple of times during the last season and I liked his blue collar work ethic.
He is going to be hard to beat in some of those corner
As for Haggerty, to be fair to him and honest with all of
you I didn’t see him play more than a game or two and that isn’t enough to make
a judgment on him.
I talked to a couple of folks who covered Haggerty and they
said plenty of good things about him. Said he was hard working and didn’t take
shifts off which is nice. Good on his face-off’s and defensive zone coverage.
Just thinking out loud but you have to like that he
practiced with the black aces during the playoff run which gives him a good
idea as to what he needs to do. Let’s see how he does next week at the prospect
camp as by all rights he should dominate it.
As for anyone else, momma said if you didn’t have something
nice to say then don’t say anything.