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Thread: NY Rangers Prospect Thread

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    NY Rangers Prospect Thread

    New York Rangers prospects lacking depth due to graduation, trades

    Written By David Hahn, April 29th, 2015

    The New York Rangers prospect pool took some big hits throughout the course of the season, with J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, and Jesper Fast all graduating to the NHL. In addition, prized prospect Anthony Duclair was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes in the Keith Yandle trade.

    To a point, the Rangers have drafted well and the success of the aforementioned players is a nice feather in the cap of their scouting staff. Despite the setbacks, there are still a few high-level prospects who appear close to the NHL and a wide variety of defenseman within the system. The Rangers are clearly lacking in forward depth, possessing more organizational players than guys currently prepared to make an impact at the next level.

    1. (2) Pavel Buchnevich, C/W, 7.5 C
    Drafted 3rd round, 75th overall, 2013

    Heading into the season, one of the only questions in regards to Pavel Buchnevich was whether or not the “Russian Factor” would play a part in his decision to eventually come to North America. This year, Buchnevich has taken major strides forward with Severstal, becoming a stronger, more versatile player, earning more icetime as the season progressed. Buchnevich scored 13 goals and 17 assists in the KHL this season, averaging more than 15 minutes of icetime per game. He carried that momentum into the World Junior Championships with Russia, posting six points in seven games. He will likely make the transition next season, where his ability to create plays will be key within the Rangers system.

    2. (1) Brady Skjei, D, 7.5 C
    Drafted 1st round, 28th overall, 2012

    The New York Rangers were not shy with their intentions to sign Skjei during the Rangers prospect development camp. Instead, he opted to return to the University of Minnesota following a successful sophomore campaign. There, Skjei has looked very much like an NHL defenseman, displaying his poise, intelligence, and simple, controlled style of play. Skjei is the type of defenseman winning teams are constantly looking for, and his defensive acumen will fit in well within the Rangers system. Skjei joined the Hartford Wolf Pack after agreeing to entry-level terms at the end of his NCAA season.

    3. (3) Brandon Halverson, G, 7.5 C
    Drafted 2nd round, 59th overall, 2014

    This season has been a bit of a roller coaster for Brandon Halverson, enduring tough stretches where he was fighting the puck, followed by multiple winning streaks. That said, he is highly touted thanks in part to his ability to use his sizeable 6’4” frame to guide rebounds into safe areas. The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds bolstered their roster at the trade deadline, but opted to give the reigns to Halverson. He rewarded that decision with a flawless 8-0-0 record with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage through two rounds of the OHL playoffs.

    4. (9) Oscar Lindberg, C/LW, 6.5 B
    Acquired via trade 2011

    Coming off a season adjusting to life on and off the ice in North America, Oscar Lindberg has been a workhorse for Hartford. Where Lindberg excels is where most prospects are not recognized, such as in the faceoff circle and on the penalty kill. He is shooting more this season, however, resulting in 28 goals for the Wolfpack. In a mostly “under the radar” season, Lindberg has quietly found his game and appears ready for action in the NHL, albeit in a sheltered capacity.

    5. (7) Dylan McIlrath, D, 6.5 B
    Drafted 1st round, 10th overall, 2010

    One player who has deservedly been the ire of Rangers fans’ disappointment is towering defender Dylan McIlrath. The NHL game is trending towards fast, puck possession players, and McIlrath needs to make adjustments to his game in order to compete. He hasn’t looked terribly out of place in Hartford, playing big minutes and improving his skating. He will be waiver-eligible next year, playing in a system loaded with older, quality NHL-ready prospects, and it will take quite a surge for McIlrath to have success with the Rangers.

    6. (8) Conor Allen, D, 7.0 C
    Signed as a free-agent 2013

    Like Danny Kristo, the clock is ticking for Conor Allen. Last year, Allen appeared ready for a chance at playing in the NHL, but the Rangers’ deep blueline corps made it understandably difficult for Allen to emerge with the Rangers. In Hartford, Allen leveled off a bit but still managed another 30 point season. He earned a brief stint with the Rangers in November, when injury and suspensions mounted. Allen performed reasonably well, and will again be on the fringe moving forward.

    7. (11) Igor Shestyorkin, G, 7.5 D
    Drafted 4th round, 118th overall, 2014

    Drafted two rounds after Halverson, Igor Shestyorkin was a surprising selection for the Rangers. Also surprising was his rise to prominence this season. Shestyorkin supplanted Russian starter Ilya Sorokin (NYI) at the WJC’s this season with .938 save percentage, shortly after starring in the Subway Super Series with a .949 mark. Shestyorkin has bounced around SKA St. Peterburg’s program this year, mainly playing in their junior league after a brief stint with the senior KHL squad.

    8. (6) Danny Kristo, RW, 7.5 D
    Acquired via trade 2013

    Kristo entered the Rangers training camp this season on the outside looking in, and he was simply beat out and passed on the depth chart a few times over. The speedy forward is approaching his 25th birthday and has yet to make his NHL debut, but has been a hard-worker in Hartford. Kristo may have leveled off, putting up similar numbers in his second season in the AHL. His value lies in his ability to move the puck and create off the rush, and with free agency pending this offseason, it’s hard to believe that Kristo will return to a Rangers team where he has yet to crack the NHL lineup.

    9. (13) Adam Tambellini, C/LW, 6.5 C
    Drafted 3rd round, 65th overall, 2013

    Perhaps the most improved forward in the Rangers system, Adam Tambellini has taken a major step ahead in his development with the Calgary Hitmen. He has done a little of everything this season, leading the Hitmen in almost every major category as the team has battled through the WHL playoffs. Heading into the semi-finals, Tambellini led the WHL in playoff scoring and maintains his upside as a potential top nine forward for the Rangers.

    10. (15) Cristoval Nieves, LW, 6.5 C
    Drafted 2nd round, 59th overall, 2012

    The 2013-14 season was one to forget for Nieves, who struggled in his sophomore season with Michigan. Heading into this year, a move to wing has provided Nieves with a chance to carry fewer responsibilities, but his production has leveled off a bit. A fantastic skater, Nieves has been more physically involved, resulting in better puck protection overall. He still has the size and ability to break out, and could benefit by a senior season in Michigan before turning pro.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    Continued...

    11. (12) Ryan Haggerty, C/RW, 6.5 C
    Signed as a free agent 2014

    In his first season as a professional, Ryan Haggerty had to do everything the hard way. Most of his goals came in front of the net, a good sign for a young, developing player. Haggerty does have an NHL-caliber shot, something you’d like to see used a little more often as he develops. This year was a step in the right direction for Haggerty, and with an expected bump up the lineup, his second year in Hartford will be a proving ground.

    12. (10) Mat Bodie, D, 6.5 C
    Signed as a free agent 2014

    Fresh off winning the NCAA Championship with Union College, Mat Bodie transitioned to Hartford this season, his first as a professional. At 25 years-old, the expectations are fairly high for a player generally regarded as an offensive defenseman. He did contribute 32 points in 75 AHL games this year, but the production doesn’t necessarily match the expectations. He doesn’t stand out in any particular category, and without the big numbers players of his ilk generally possess, it’s hard to project his NHL future.

    13. (16) Richard Nejezchleb, RW, 6.5 C
    Drafted 5th round, 122nd overall, 2014

    When he’s on the ice, Richard Nejezchleb has the ability to completely take a game over. Unfortunately, he has struggled with injuries during his time in the WHL, and was traded to Tri-City at the beginning of the season due to an import logjam in Brandon. Nejezchleb scored 19 goals and 30 assists in 47 games, often times trying to do everything by himself. His NHL potential rests squarely on his ability to stay healthy.

    14. (14) Ryan Graves, D, 7.0 D
    Drafted 4th round, 110th overall, 2013

    After a long run towards the Memorial Cup with the Val-d’Or Foreurs, Ryan Graves is taking another shot at glory with the Quebec Remparts. He has quietly put together a solid season, finishing with 15 goals and 24 assists in 50 games. Known as a defensive defenseman, the added offense is a nice bonus for the Rangers as Graves’ upward development trend continues.

    15. (NR) Keegan Iverson, C, 6.0 C
    Drafted 3rd round, 85th overall, 2014

    The beginning of the year was not kind to Iverson, who only scored six times in the first four months of the season. However, a newfound confidence and increased role in Portland helped turn his season around. He’s still young, and has a solid understanding of the defensive side of his game, so any extra offense will be a bonus as he progresses in the WHL.

    16. (NR) Mackenzie Skapski, G, 6.5 D
    Drafted 6th round, 170th overall, 2013

    Sometimes all a prospect needs is one opportunity to showcase his skills, and an early injury in Hartford provided Skapski with his first AHL shutout in his first AHL game. From there, Skapski manufactured a solid season, quickly becoming a reliable starting option. The mechanically smart goaltender registered a 2.40 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 28 games for Hartford. He was rewarded with his first NHL start in February, stopping 24 of 25 shots against Buffalo in his first NHL win.

    17. (NR) Marek Hrivik, C/LW, 6.5 D
    Signed as a free agent 2012

    In his third full season with Hartford, Marek Hrivik took small steps ahead, becoming a more complete player. While his offensive game has improved marginally, Hrivik has been a more responsible player defensively, picking up well on the details. Figuring out where he fits in the long term is a difficult task, but Hrivik’s steady progression suggests there may be an opportunity for him down the line.

    18. (17) Daniel Walcott, D, 6.5 D
    Drafted 5th round, 140th overall, 2014

    Blainville-Boisbriand defenseman Daniel Walcott has been the consummate captain for the Armada this season. As a smaller defenseman, Walcott has excelled as a puck mover, on special teams, and in the final minute of play. He has logged a ton of minutes this year, and has a professional-ready skating stride. In all likelihood, Walcott will receive a contract for next year as a niche player.

    19. (18) Steven Fogarty, C/RW, 6.5 D
    Drafted 3rd round, 72nd overall, 2011

    At just 22 years of age, Fogarty was named captain of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and enjoyed a career-year offensively. While his offensive ceiling may not be very high, his work ethic and shutdown abilities are notable. The hard-working center has all the tools to become a reliable bottom-six role player.

    20. (NR) Ryan Mantha, D, 6.0 D
    Drafted 4th round, 104th overall, 2014

    After being declared academically ineligible to play for North Dakota, Ryan Mantha ended up with the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL. Despite an early season injury and a temporary move to the forward position, Mantha went on to put up a solid season on the blueline. At 6’5, Mantha’s stature and above-average skating stride project well with plenty of time to develop.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    New York Rangers prospects in Europe, NCAA improve significantly

    Written By David Hahn ,May 4th, 2015

    The New York Rangers prospect pool took a bit of a hit this season, but despite the trades and graduations within the system, there are still solid prospects in Europe and the NCAA.

    Among collegiate players, Brady Skjei appears ready for regular minutes in the NHL after a quality season with the University of Minnesota. The Rangers also have two developing forwards playing collegiately, as Notre Dame’s captain Steven Fogarty and Michigan’s newly-minted winger Cristoval Nieves used this season to take steps in the right direction.

    Over in Europe, Calle Andersson and Petr Zamorsky both didn’t look out of place during their respective loan spells. Meanwhile, the Russian duo of Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shestyorkin narrowly missed out on a gold medal at the World Junior Championships, but still managed to take major strides ahead in their development.

    NCAA

    Steven Fogarty, C, University of Notre Dame (Hockey East)
    Drafted 3rd round, 72nd overall, 2011

    No one will accuse Fogarty of not working hard enough, as the blue-collar center has developed at a slow and steady incline for the last three years. Heading into his junior season with Notre Dame, Fogarty was named captain, a testament to his understanding and influence on the game and his teammates.

    One part of Fogarty’s game that improved this season is his offensive production, matching the point total from both his underclassmen years combined. Fogarty tallied nine goals and 12 assists, enjoying six multi-point efforts. That included a three-game stretch against Massachusetts, where Fogarty scored once in each game to help the Irish advance to the Hockey East quarterfinals.

    Cristoval Nieves, LW, University of Michigan (Big Ten)
    Drafted 2nd round, 59th overall, 2012

    One look at the Michigan depth chart will show you a solid group of centers, which bumped Nieves out to wing this season. After a frustrating sophomore season, Nieves returned to his usual self this year after being relieved of some defensive responsibilities.

    The versatile, rangy forward put together a few highlight-reel quality rushes this year, silencing his critics who suggested that Nieves was lacking confidence. He finished fifth in scoring for the Wolverines, scoring seven times and assisting on 21 others. He strung together two five game point streaks, and finished strong with the season on the line. Nieves guided Michigan into the Big Ten Championship game, where they ultimately fell to fellow Rangers prospect and Minnesota defenseman Brady Skjei.

    Brady Skjei, D, University of Minnesota (Big Ten)
    Drafted 1st round, 28th overall, 2012

    The University of Minnesota is regarded as a perennial powerhouse; so too is Skjei, who has been one of the best defenseman in college hockey. Not to be confused with an offensive dynamo, Skjei is relied upon as a shutdown defenseman, reliable in all situations.

    It was a storybook season for Skjei, who stayed close to home throughout his collegiate career. He notched one goal and nine assists in 33 games, but more notable was his penchant for breaking up plays, blocking shots, and leading one of the top penalty kill units in the country. Minnesota finished the season as the Big Ten Champions, representing the conference in the NCAA Tournament—where they ultimately fell to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Skjei’s season didn’t conclude there, however, as he signed with the Rangers and has been plying his trade with Hartford of the AHL.

    Europe

    Calle Andersson, D, Lugano (NLA)
    Drafted 4th round, 119 overall, 2012

    After signing with the Rangers and going out on loan to Zug of the NLA, Andersson started the season with an abysmal stretch of just three points in limited ice time through 18 games. Luckily, he was traded to Lugano, where his father, a former Ranger himself, is an assistant coach.

    Things began to click for Andersson with Lugano, where an improved role and system resulted in a dramatic shift in production. An offensive defenseman, Andersson finished the season with five goals and 12 assists in 30 games. The Limhamn, Sweden native is playing in Switzerland on a player-license, therefore not counting against the foreign limit. It remains to be seen if Andersson will make the move to Hartford, but at this point, the NLA may no longer be a challenge.

    Pavel Buchnevich, C/LW, Severstal Cherepovets (KHL)
    Drafted 3rd round, 75th overall, 2013

    In the KHL, Buchnevich has been a regular contributor in his second season in the league, a rare occurrence for a young player. The new prize of the Rangers prospect pool, Buchnevich has enjoyed success on multiple levels of competition this year.

    Playing the majority of the season with Severstal, Buchnevich finished with 13 goals and 17 assists in 48 games, the second-best point total among all U20 players in KHL history, behind Evgeny Kuznetsov. He possesses tremendous offensive instincts, and put those to the test during a rogue appearance in the Russian junior league. There, he toyed with the opposition, racking up 20 points in just 11 games. He also featured for Russia at the WJC’s, winning a silver medal and posting six points in seven games.

    Igor Shestyorkin, G, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
    Drafted 4th round, 118th overall, 2014

    Another talented but lesser-known Russian prospect of the Rangers is Igor Shestyorkin, who rose to prominence thanks to a tremendous WJC appearance, supplanting incumbent starter Ilya Sorokin midway through the tournament. Against the top players in the world, Shestyorkin appeared in five games to post a 1.98 goals-against average and a .938 save-percentage—including a shutout over Switzerland.

    Shestyorkin also featured for SKA’s junior team this year, running up a .934 save-percentage in the regular season, followed by a long playoff run. As a testament to his true value, he made six appearances with the KHL team, an organization that usually favors veterans over developing players.

    Petr Zamorsky, D, Espoo Blues (Liiga), Orebro (SHL)
    Signed as a free agent, 2014

    One of the more intriguing prospects in the Rangers system, Zamorsky was bounced around this season, one year after being named the Czech Extraliga’s Best Defenseman. Zamorsky split the season on loan between Espoo in Liiga, and Orebro in the SHL, where he finished the season.

    At 5’11”, 190 pounds, Zamorsky has wrongly been labeled as another small, European defenseman. He possesses a booming shot, and does play with a bit of an edge, something that will prove valuable if he makes the transition to North America. He scored three times and assisted on three others in 25 Liiga games, playing big minutes for the Blues. Zamorsky’s willingness to drive play and be physical resulted in a pair of injuries this year, but ultimately he is rounding into a polished defenseman.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    Rangers prospects strong in goal, weak elsewhere

    Written By Leslie Treff, September 24th, 2015

    The summer of 2015 has seen big changes in the New York Rangers’ front office. After 15 years as president and general manager of the team, Glen Sather stepped down as GM on July 1. The club appointed former assistant GM Jeff Gorton to succeed him, and although Sather has retained his title as president, he will be less involved with day-to-day decisions this season and will not be pulling the trigger on trades.

    In addition, the club has named 34-year-old Steve Greeley as Assistant Director of Player Personnel, and appointed former Ranger Chris Drury as the Director of Player Development. Both Greeley and Drury will be working with Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark, who has been in charge of drafting prospects for the last 10 seasons and, at age 63, has expressed interest in giving up his post in the near future.

    A change at the top does not however impact New York’s aspirations for a Stanley Cup. Just this week, Head Coach Alain Vigneault stated that his aim is to win the Cup this season. Although the Rangers won the President’s Trophy last year, have gone far into the playoffs for both of the past two seasons, and have one of the best defensive corps in hockey, the team has not hoisted the Cup since 1994. This is not for lack of effort, which over the last few years has included quite a few trades to bring in experienced talent to help make that dream come true.

    The problem with the trades, however, has been that they have depleted the prospect pipeline by trading away first and second-round draft picks, as well as promising prospects (the most notable being Anthony Duclair), and put the team tight against the salary cap (which necessitated the offseason trade of speedster and possession-hog Carl Hagelin to Anaheim). Without a first-round draft selection since 2012 (and not another until 2017), the Rangers have constantly had to look for hidden gem prospects in the mid rounds, where a skaters’ chance of making it to the NHL is slim.

    Despite the generally weak organizational prospect group, there is one position at which the Rangers’ prospect pool is very strong—there are three excellent and two very good goaltending prospects now developing in the Rangers system (not coincidently, this is the one position that does not rely on a healthy supply of high draft selections). With another six years on all-star netminder Henrik Lundqvist’s contract, only two or three of the goaltending prospects are expected to be useful to the team long-term. One has to think that, over time, Gorton and staff will contemplate trading at least a couple of the goalies to shore up one or more of the weaker spots in the prospect depth chart.

    20. (NR) Daniel Bernhardt, RW, 6.5 D
    Drafted 4th round, 119th overall, 2015

    The winner of the scoring title in Sweden’s J20 SuperElit league last year, 19 year-old Bernhardt was very impressive in Development Camp this summer. A wizard at handling the puck, Bernhardt has excellent speed and good size. The Rangers were hoping that Bernhardt would play North American junior hockey this season (he was selected 105th overall by the London Knights in the CHL Import Draft). However, prior to leaving development camp, Bernhardt informed the Rangers that he would be returning to Europe for at least one, and likely two, more years of development. Recently loaned from Djurgardens IF of the SHL to Almtuna IS of the Allsvenskan, Bernhardt will continue to work on his strength and overall game.

    19. (20) Ryan Mantha, D, 6.0 C
    Drafted 4th round, 104th overall, 2014

    Big and imposing, Mantha is an excellent puck mover. Foot speed and positioning have always been his weaknesses and he has been working very hard on these qualities since being drafted by the Rangers in 2014. At one time committed to the University of North Dakota, Mantha spent his draft season with the USHL’s champion Indiana Ice. Rather than join the USHL Muskegon Lumberjacks for the 2014-15 season (chosen through the USHL dispersal draft), Mantha decided instead to skate with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. Showing toughness, improving his decision-making and quickness, Mantha had a very good freshman OHL season. He will return to the IceDogs for 2015-16, where he is expected to play a leading role on one of the CHL’s top teams.

    18. (15) Keegan Iverson, C, 6.0 C
    Drafted 3rd round, 85th overall, 2014

    A grinding center, Iverson is a Minnesota native who does not shy away from physical altercations. Known for his work ethic and grit, Iverson failed to show the expected offensive upside early last season, but he finished the regular season with 18 points in 19 games (nine goals, nine assists) during the months of February and March. Iverson has the tools to be an effective bottom six player in the NHL; this season, he will need to show that he can perform consistently to gain an NHL entry-level contract.

    17. (19) Steven Fogarty, C, 6.0 C
    Drafted, 3rd round, 72nd overall, 2011

    One of the Rangers’ older prospects, the 22-year-old Fogarty has entered his senior year at Notre Dame (the Rangers will have to decide whether to sign him to an NHL entry level contract by next August). It has been a long road for Fogarty, who graduated from Edina High School in Minnesota, played in the BCHL and now is an Academic All-American at Notre Dame. Fogarty will skate with a “C” on his sweater for the Fighting Irish for the second straight season in 2015-16. He had his best offensive season with Notre Dame in 2014-15 (21 points in 39 games). Expected to be a two-way center at the next level, Fogarty is good on face offs and excellent at blocking shots.

    16. (NR) Aleksi Saarela, C, 7.0 D
    Drafted 3rd round, 89th overall, 2015

    A big part of Finland’s silver medal team at the 2015 U18 World Junior Championships, Saarela was one of the leading scorers with eight points in seven games. With an excellent shot and great speed, Saarela is in his second season playing in the Liiga in Finland. He is not large, but he has good body strength and is very strong on the puck. With excellent hockey sense, vision, and quick hands, Saarela can be a playmaker and a goal-scorer equally. Expected to spend at least one more season in Europe, Saarela, who has struggled somewhat with injuries thus far in his career, is healthy this season and anxious to show that he can contribute in a big way in Assat. Saarela is projected to be a top six forward in the NHL.

    15. (NR) Brad Morrison, C, 7.0 D
    Drafted 4th round, 113th overall, 2015

    A smaller, offensively gifted player, Morrison has excellent vision, hockey smarts, and great hands. Willing to play with jam in traffic, he is especially effective on the power play. With Prince George last season, Morrison showed off his skills, posting 49 points in 67 regular season games and seven points in five playoff contests. The Rangers are looking for Morrison to bulk up and play more defensive hockey in his own zone. A good puck possession player, the Rangers project Morrison to be a top six forward at the professional level.

    14. (13) Richard Nejezchleb, LW, 6.5 C
    Drafted 5th round, 122nd overall, 2014

    The 21-year-old Nejezchleb is currently in training camp and in negotiation with the Rangers as to where he will start the season. He had a solid, but not dominating, overage WHL season (51 points in 49 regular season games), and the Rangers can keep his rights until next June without signing him. Expected to be a top-nine scoring forward in the professional game, Nejezchleb is strong on the puck, fights well for possession along the boards, and can go to the net and get dirty goals.

    13. (16) Mackenzie Skapski, G, 6.5 C
    Drafted 6th round, 170th overall, 2013

    Skapski played very well at age 20 in his two NHL appearances last season. Poised and controlled between the pipes, Skapski surprised most everyone with his excellent play. He is currently recovering from arthroscopic surgery he underwent last June to repair a labral tear in his right hip. Expected to return early in the season, he should be the number one in Hartford. Now behind Antti Raanta and Magnus Hellberg in the Rangers depth chart for the season, Skapski is likely to remain with the Wolf Pack for the entire 2015-16 season.

    12. (10) Boo Nieves, C, 6.5 C
    Drafted 2nd round, 59th overall, 2012

    Nieves is entering his senior and final season at the University of Michigan. After an outstanding freshman year in 2012-13, Nieves has since put up very good, but not exceptional, numbers (28 points in 35 games last season). With good speed and hands, the Rangers expect Nieves to be a top-nine forward at the next level. Recently named an alternate captain with the Wolverines, the Rangers are looking for more than 0.8 points per game from Nieves during the 2015-16 season.

    11. (9) Adam Tambellini, C, 6.5 C
    Drafted 3rd round, 65th overall, 2013

    Tambellini will begin his professional career in Hartford this fall, after an impressive sophomore season with the Calgary Hitmen (86 points in 71 regular season games; 26 points in 16 post-season contests). Tambellini has had a big frame since he was drafted, but particularly over the last season has filled out well, and since he was drafted two years ago, he has improved in all areas of his game. Although expected to start as a center with the Wolf Pack, he could also play on the wing at the professional level, as he is a goal scorer and has the ability to go to the front of the net.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    Continued,,,

    10. (5) Dylan McIlrath, D, 6.0 B
    Drafted 1st round, 10th overall, 2010

    This fall is McIlrath’s final chance to make the Rangers roster. Should he be assigned to Hartford for his fourth professional season, he will have to clear waivers. Thus far McIlrath has failed to prove that he has the skating ability and positioning to play at the NHL level, however, he did make great strides last season as a member of the Wolf Pack (17 points in 73 regular season games, with 165 PIMs). McIlrath is really not on the ice to score points, what he needs to be is effective in his own zone, intimidating and not a defensive liability. Likely to be the seventh defenceman for the Rangers this season, he has been a prospect so long that he will graduate after the spring 2016 rankings, whether or not he plays another NHL game.

    9. (4) Oscar Lindberg, C, 6.0 B
    Traded May 9, 2011 from Arizona Coyotes

    Lindberg’s road to the NHL has been long and winding since being drafted by the Coyotes in 2010, but this season may be his best chance to fulfill his dream. In 2011, Arizona swapped Lindberg, a player they were not really sure would ever come over to North America, for Ethan Werek, a player that the Rangers felt was having development issues. Lindberg, who was seen as a potential third-line center, remained in Sweden for two more seasons after the trade, and for the last two seasons, Lindberg skated in Hartford, with just one NHL appearance. He was arguably the best player on the Wolf Pack last season (56 points in 75 regular season games; 16 points in 15 postseason contests), and is expected to be a serious candidate for one of the open forward roster spots this season.

    8. (NR) Robin Kovacs, LW, 7.0 C
    Drafted 3rd round, 62nd overall, 2015

    Experienced in international competition, Kovacs has high-end skill, as well as an edge to his game. Signed in Sweden for two more seasons, Kovacs begins the 2015-16 campaign loaned to AIK in the Allsvenskan. Last season, he spent the majority of his games in the same league, recording 28 points (17 goals, 11 assists) in 52 regular season games. Despite his contract in Sweden, Kovacs was selected in the CHL Import Draft by the North Bay Battalion. The young Swede will need to gain upper body strength prior to becoming a North American professional, but he can pass the puck well, has excellent vision, and is dangerous on every shift.

    7. (NR) Magnus Hellberg, G, 7.0 C
    Rights traded by Nashville on July 1, 2015; Signed as restricted free agent on July 10, 2015

    Drafted by the Predators in the second round of the 2011 draft, Hellberg became a restricted free agent on July 1, 2015. The Rangers traded a sixth round selection in the 2017 draft for his rights, so that Hellberg could compete for the NHL backup job this season. Hellberg is huge and has all the physical and technical attributes of an elite NHL goaltender. Last season, his third in North America, Hellberg toiled with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals, appearing in 38 games and recording a 2.33 GAA and a .913 save percentage.

    6. (NR) Ryan Gropp, LW, 7.0 C
    Drafted 2nd round, 41st overall, 2015

    Projected to be a power forward in the NHL, the 6-foot-2 Gropp has excellent skating speed and a very quick release. Originally committed to the University of North Dakota, Gropp joined the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds in the fall of 2013. In his second season, he skated in 67 regular season games with Seattle, posting 58 points (30 G, 28 A) and 44 PIMs. The Rangers will be looking for more production from Gropp in the coming years, as they expect him to be an offensive force as a professional. However, the main goal for the 2015-16 season will be consistency in the young Kamloops native’s play.

    5. (14) Ryan Graves, D, 7.0 C
    Drafted 4th round, 110th overall, 2013

    Over the last two years, Graves has quietly moved up the organizational depth chart. About to begin his professional career, Graves is still expected to be a mostly defensive blueliner, with a bit of offensive upside. Last season, he did show more offense (15 goals, 24 assists in 50 regular season games; 11 points in 21 playoff games including the Memorial Cup). The Rangers are looking to have Graves spend at least one year in Hartford, adjusting to the pace of the professional game before giving him a look in New York.

    4. (3) Brandon Halverson, G, 7.0 C
    Drafted 2nd round, 59th overall, 2014

    Despite the fact that Halverson has moved down one slot in the rankings, he is still a top prospect in the organization. With a big 6-foot-4 frame, great rebound control, and athletic movement, Halverson is one of three very good goaltending prospects. Last season, Halverson’s second with the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, was up and down. However, he played well in the one U20 World Junior Championships game in which he appeared and is expected to be selected once again for the United States team in 2016. Signed to an NHL entry-level contract this summer, the Rangers think that Halverson has a bright future with the organization. Expect him to play one more season of major junior hockey prior to beginning his professional career in the fall of 2016.

    3. (7) Igor Shestyorkin, G, 8.0 D
    Drafted 4th round, 118th overall, 2014

    A (very) late 1995 prospect, drafted in the fourth round, may turn out to be the best goaltending prospect available in the 2014 draft. With excellent lateral movement, good instincts, and good coverage down low, Shestyorkin could be the steal of the draft. His play in international competition (silver medal in the 2015 U20 WJCs), as well as in the KHL, has been exceptional. The question is, and always has been, will he come over? Shestyorkin recently signed a two-year extension with SKA St. Petersburg, and he intends to honor it. That means that the earliest that he will play in North America is the fall of 2017. It is hard to believe, given all that he has accomplished already, but at that point, he will not yet be 22 years old.

    2. (2) Brady Skjei, D, 7.5 C
    Drafted 1st round, 28th overall, 2012

    After three years at the University of Minnesota, Skjei signed an NHL entry-level contract last April. He played for Hartford in the AHL on an ATO at the end of the regular season and through the AHL playoffs, adjusting to the pro game. In his final season as a Golden Gopher, Skjei posted 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in 33 games.

    During his collegiate career, Skjei helped Minnesota win three regular-season conference titles and three NCAA tournament appearances, including a runner-up to the national champion Union in 2014. He was expected to be mostly a defensive blueliner when he was drafted, but Skjei has developed into more of a two-way player. Although expected to start in Hartford this season, if he plays well, Skjei could be an injury call up to New York as a first-year pro.

    1. (1) Pavel Buchnevich, LW, 8.0 C
    Drafted 3rd round, 75th overall, 2013

    Already a top player in the KHL, the 20-year-old Buchnevich has started the 2015-16 season on fire. He has dominated offensively in international play, generally creating plays that others can only dream of. Buchnevich’s release is elite and his skating is outstanding. His performances in Rangers development camps have been far above all other players on the ice. He does need to learn to be more responsible in his own end though, as occasionally his failure to get back on defense leads to very effective scoring chances against. Although he was expected to come to North America to play this season, Buchnevich signed a one-year extension with the KHL’s Severstal Cherepovets in May 2015. It is hoped that he will arrive in the fall of 2016.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    Projects prevalent in New York Rangers Top 20 prospects


    By Mike Farkas

    May 26th, 2016

    Going to at least the Eastern Conference Final round in three of the past five seasons does not come without some collateral damage. For the New York Rangers, and many other teams in contention, it has come at the cost of some prospects and draft picks.

    Aleksi Saarela and Anthony Duclair would easily be top-5 prospects in this group, not to mention the multitude of first and second round picks that have been dealt over this span. What’s left is a lot of longshot prospects and some lower-end depth players. The Rangers have picked in the top 50 once (41st in 2015 – Ryan Gropp) since using the 28th pick on Brady Skjei back in 2012 and, barring a trade, they won’t select in the top 50 this draft either as they have invested their first and second round picks in previous trades. That’s the price of doing business in the NHL sometimes, but that puts a lot of pressure on the scouting staff to get creative with the remains.

    20. (NR) Tyler Nanne, D, 6.5D
    Drafted: 5th round, 142nd overall, 2014

    Tyler Nanne last played hockey more than a year ago with the Madison Capitols of the USHL. He tallied seven goals and six assists in the final 29 games with the club. Since then, medical issues have kept him off the ice but the flashy offensive defenseman plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota and restart his hockey career.

    The hard-shooting right-hander is a converted forward, turned agile defenseman. He is certainly a project pick and his time away from the ice obviously does not help to mitigate concerns about his development, nor would having to sit out an additional year due to transferring schools – though a waiver situation could arise if all parties can agree.

    19. (17) Steven Fogarty, C, 6.0C
    Drafted: 3rd round, 72nd overall, 2011

    A four-year player at the University of Notre Dame, Steven Fogarty comes into the pro game with a lot of contests under his belt. Fogarty is a big right-handed center with a good head for the game. He was not a big scorer in college, though he set career highs in goals (10), assists (13) and points (23) as a senior in 2015-16.

    The Edina, Minnesota native has enough size and smarts to carve out a niche as a checking line center. His skating has improved enough over the years that he can keep up at the pro level. A dedicated effort to being a role player should be enough to keep the 23 year old around.

    18. (20) Daniel Bernhardt, LW/RW, 6.5D
    Drafted: 4th round, 119th overall, 2015

    After taking a dip into junior hockey in North America, Daniel Bernhardt will return to his native Sweden in 2016-17. The long winger finished the season with the London Knights (OHL) playing mostly on their fourth line. To that end, his 11 points in 29 games will leave some questioning his offensive upside. However, offensive potential might be all he brings to the table at this point.

    Bernhardt has a terrific release, the puck jumps right off of his stick and he goes to the posts to find loose change regularly. That said, he is not much for physical play and is nonchalant defensively. The 6-foot-3 forward still lacks a little coordination with his skating. Even at 20 years old, there is still something of an awkward stride there and his first few steps are not pretty. His ice time back in the SHL might be dependent on how good of an offseason of training he has.

    17. (NR) Calle Andersson, D, 6.0C
    Drafted: 4th round, 119th overall, 2012

    Lanky Swedish defenseman Calle Andersson has had an interesting development route, coming from the Malmo junior program before going to Farjestad at the SHL level, back to Malmo (Allsvenskan), in 2014-15 he played for two NLA teams in Switzerland and finally played in Hartford last season.

    Andersson pocketed five goals and nine points in 43 games while playing a depth role with his newest club. Andersson is a mobile blueliner with a quality shot. The 22 year old has good on-ice awareness and is capable at both ends of the ice. Not that he has a ton of puck skills, but his biggest knock is his overall lack of strength and how easy he is to knock off his skates – he looks like all arms and legs on the ice.

    16. (4) Brandon Halverson, G, 7.0D
    Drafted: 2nd round, 59th overall, 2014

    American-born goaltender Brandon Halverson has had his ups and downs throughout his junior career, like most goalies would. His averaging stats remained on a pretty similar plane in 2015-16, with a 3.00 goals against average and .907 save percentage in 43 games. Even the good statistical showing at the World Juniors (giving up short of two-thirds of a goal per game in two appearances) is asterisked by the relatively weak competition he faced (Switzerland and Denmark, respectively). With a contract already in hand from the previous summer, Halverson did not have to fight for his pro life, he could just work on his technique and help carry an average Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds team as far as he could.

    Halverson’s technique is based in butterfly teachings, but it still has a lot of holes in it. His predecessor, Matt Murray, does not let a lot of goals get in through his body – a trait that Halverson has yet to fully master as a big guy. Though an excellent stickhandler – likely the best in the OHL – Halverson has a lot of trouble tracking the puck at very acute angles or even “negative” angles (i.e. behind the net). His shuffle ability in the crease is controlled, but could stand to get much stronger, especially given how far back he normally sits in the net. He needs to get better with his glove and his blocker, even as a low setup goaltender. That said, he may be a dead ringer for Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire to help tidy up.

    15. (13) Mackenzie Skapski, G, 6.5C
    Drafted: 6th round, 170th overall, 2013

    It has been a rough 12 month stretch for Mackenzie Skapski, especially after playing in the NHL in his first pro season. He underwent surgery on his hip that set him up for a wonky 2015-16 season. With Magnus Hellberg unrelenting in the AHL crease by the time Skapski was in shape, the former Kootenay netminder spent much of his time in Greenville (ECHL). It was a tough adjustment for the young goaltender to go from workhorse (133 games, including 65 during the 2012-13 regular season, in his last two junior seasons) to playing just 73 games in three leagues over the next two seasons combined.

    With a big frame and pretty good mobility in the crease, Skapski has some tools at his disposal to be a player. He does a better job than most young goalies at keeping his shoulders up and back and his chest high when moving laterally. He needs to continue work on his rebound control and not lose his angles against speedy attacks.

    14. (NR) Adam Huska, G, 6.5C
    Drafted: 7th round, 184th overall, 2015

    The Rangers necessarily needed another goaltending prospect, but Adam Huska may make them look pretty smart for taking one. The Slovak netminder was the best goaltender in the USHL for Green Bay with a 1.82 goals against average and .931 save percentage. His goals against average was so razor thin that it has not been seen in the league in 14 years (among 20-game players). Huska represented Slovakia at the 2016 World Junior Championships and acquitted himself just fine behind a fairly poor group, but even he could not withstand the barrage he took from the highest class of teams in the tournament.

    Huska is a low-setup goaltender who makes his stops with good positioning and rebound control. He does a fair job of not letting pucks through him, keeping his hands very low towards his pads in the butterfly. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, but it would be tough to guess that considering how forward his shoulders are in his stance; as a result, he leaves the upper reaches of the net a little too open sometimes. He is very controlled in his movements in the crease and is never outside of his goal posts, however, his shuffle ability is still in need of improvement. Huska is enrolled at the University of Connecticut for next season, an unlikely place for an NHLer to come out of – but with modern goaltending how it is, he certainly has potential to be a pro.

    13. (12) Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, C/LW, 6.5C
    Drafted: 2nd round, 59th overall, 2012

    Four-year University of Michigan standout, Boo Nieves has finally signed on with the New York Rangers. He posted remarkably consistent numbers in his four years in Ann Arbor: 29, 21, 28 and 31 points, respectively, across his collegiate seasons, including exactly 21 assists in three of four years. Nieves looked impressive in his short, late-season stint with Hartford, featuring prominently and scoring five points in just eight games.

    The American forward has a 6-foot-3, 200 pound frame and a really strong skating base to boot. A better than average passer and playmaker, Nieves still might be better served on the wing in the pro game, as opposed to center. While he shows flashes of brilliance, Nieves never really took the next step in terms of skill level. It is yet to be determined what his role will be, but the organization will probably want to give him every chance to succeed in the AHL to find out exactly what they have in the 22 year old.

    12. (NR) Nicklas Jensen, RW, 7.0D
    Acquired via trade with Vancouver, January 2016

    The New York Rangers acquired this former Vancouver first round pick in exchange for speedy but flailing winger Emerson Etem back in January. Jensen was never recalled to New York and finished the year scoring 15 goals and 25 points in 41 games on a Hartford squad that was in desperate need of an offensive jolt. Jensen is a regular in all international competition for Denmark, but has yet to establish himself as an NHL regular, having played just 24 games (all with Vancouver) over the past four seasons.

    Jensen has speed and a shot, but not a lot else to his game. He is 6-foot-2 and rangy; when he does have the puck, he has one of the best shots in the pipeline and chooses to whip it on net from anywhere on the rink. He also exhibits some world-class finishing moves near the net. Unfortunately, Jensen does not have a lot of use in a traditional bottom-six group of forwards and his game-to-game consistency can be quite frustrating. Unless he turns his game around, it seems more likely that he will return to Europe at some point in the near future.

    11. (12) Sergei Zborovskiy, D, 6.5C
    Drafted: 3rd round, 79th overall, 2015

    Large-framed Russian import Sergei Zborovskiy has completed his second season with the Regina Pats of the WHL. Given the amount of minutes he logs, his eight goals and 25 points is a bit underwhelming, but he was a plus-15 (for the second straight season) on a team that exhibited a negative goal differential on the year. Despite playing in the CHL Subway Super Series, Zborovskiy was a late cut from the World Junior Championships team in December.

    Certainly not in the mold of a Dmitry Orlov or Nikita Nesterov, Zborovskiy is a defensive-minded defenseman who is very strong at getting good body position on attacking forwards. He is pretty low on puck skills overall, but he can make a timely pinch to keep plays alive. Defensively, he is a very smart player who uses his body and his reach very well and can even sniff out ways to diffuse sustained attack time against by not running around aimlessly – as some green players tend to do. The young Russian is a very calm player, almost comatose at times, as he turns away a lot of attacks. With added experience and strength, he will be even better at clearing out the front of the net, as that can be one of the last defensive traits to really fully form.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    Continued

    10. (10) Dylan McIlrath, D, 6.0B
    Drafted: 1st round, 10th overall, 2010

    Much talked about 2010 draft pick, Dylan McIlrath became a semi-regular NHL player in 2015-16 for the first time. Obviously, he has never been much for puck skills, so his two goals and two assists in 34 games is not terribly surprising, or relevant really, given his play style. Cutting away the draft pick itself, the controversy and all the hoopla, to just evaluate the player himself: McIlrath did just fine for a rookie in fairly limited time.

    At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, McIlrath is like Satan on skates for opposing forwards going to the net. His skating has improved overall; the stride still looks a bit goofy and loose, plus the lateral mobility is not as keen as coaches would like to see in the hyper-speed game that we have today, but he can survive if he reads the play well enough. If he can get down the positioning, he could end up being a Hal Gill type of player. Like Gill, McIlrath never passes up an opportunity to spank the puck on net from distance, as he is not a gifted passer or handler, but he can crank it. He is still a work in progress even at 24 years old, but if he can avoid chasing after hits on the rush, he has a future as a bottom pairing, physical defenseman.

    9. (NR) Malte Stromwall, RW, 7.0D
    Signed as a free agent, April 2016

    Well-travelled winger Malte Stromwall will end up somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard next season as a member of the New York Rangers organization. The somewhat slender Swede has tried his hand in the WHL, three SHL teams and three Allsvenskan teams since 2013. His point-per-game season with Tri-City (WHL) notwithstanding, Stromwall broke out in a big way last year with 25 goals and 42 points in a tough-to-crack second-tier Swedish League. His goal total placed him second in the entire league behind another former WHL standout, Mitch Wahl.

    Stromwall’s best asset is his shot. He is good enough to be a mid-range scorer at most levels of hockey with his release and his first-step quickness. The 21 year old right hander is not a very tough player or all that well-versed in the defensive side of the puck however. He makes his living as a streak-and-score winger down the right side or near the left post on the power play.

    8. (8) Robin Kovacs, LW, 6.5C
    Drafted: 3rd round, 62nd overall, 2015

    For the second consecutive season, Robin Kovacs led all junior-aged players in Allsvenskan goal scoring. His 21 goals in 44 games put him fifth in the entire league in that category, with everyone ahead of him having played at least five more games. Kovacs has seen very little time at the SHL level, though he is projected to be a top-level player next season; there remains the chance that the Rangers sign him and play him in the AHL.

    Kovacs brings an interesting set of skills to the table. First, he is very annoying to play against. An agitator by trade, the penalties can go both ways with a rabble-rouser like Kovacs. He displays a good grasp of change-of-pace skating when on the attack to throw off defenders and buy him some more time. He is not short on passing ability, but he is a shoot-first player that loves the half slapper. The overall skill package, as it appears now, could fall either way in terms of translating to the NHL, as he is not a finished product at 19.

    7. (11) Adam Tambellini, C/LW, 6.5C
    Drafted: 3rd round, 65th overall, 2013

    Something of a late bloomer, Adam Tambellini went the BCHL route to preserve NCAA eligibility. But, after 16 games at the University of North Dakota, Tambellini finished the 2013-14 season with the Calgary Hitmen (WHL). Maybe not satisfied with the split and lack of exposure to high level competition, the Rangers sent the Edmonton native back to Calgary as an overager where he scored 47 goals and 86 points in 71 games. The extra year in the WHL was to try to massage some of that offensive potential out of him without just inserting him into pro hockey one year removed from Junior A. As a rookie in the AHL, Tambellini potted 17 goals, which is nothing to sneeze at on a team that struggled to really open up the game offensively for much of the year.

    The best asset for Tambellini is his shot. He has a great wrist shot and he can shoot a moving puck just as well. He is probably more suited to being a winger at the pro level given his skill set. Plus, it takes him a few strides to really get up to speed; his first couple steps are not great.

    6. (15) Brad Morrison, C, 7.0C
    Drafted: 4th round, 113th overall, 2015

    Though he is possibly a little out of place among this ragamuffin lot of heavy, ornery players, Brad Morrison is making the best of it. His club, the Prince George Cougars (WHL), have had a rough go of it over the years and the transition to better days is still a work in progress. In the midst of it, however, their top pick from the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft is starting to turn some heads with his lightning-quick dashes and circus-like maneuvers. It has not yet consistently translated into big points when the skill set is considered, but 28 goals and 62 points in 72 games is certainly respectable.

    Morrison can move around in the lineup, but he has been a second line center who can really take advantage of weak matchups. He is hovering around six foot, but maybe generously listed at 170 pounds. He has a boatload of cheeky moves and maneuvers, he can change the direction of the attack and dazzle would-be defenders with great hands and puck-on-a-string magic tricks. Despite his style of play and his size, he really is not very timid either; Morrison is not at all tethered to the perimeter. He will have another year of junior hockey to start refining his game so he can make an impact at the pro level.

    5. (6) Ryan Gropp, LW, 7.0C
    Drafted: 2nd round, 41st overall, 2015

    Seattle Thunderbirds forward Ryan Gropp is who the Rangers chose to invest in with the highest pick that they have had since selecting Brady Skjei 28th overall back in 2012. Though he has spent much of the last two seasons with dish-master Mathew Barzal, Gropp is an impressive player in his own right. He posted back-to-back 30 goal seasons in the WHL before turning pro, including a career high in goals (34), assists (36) and points (70) in 2015-16. The 6-foot-2, 187 pound winger still won’t turn 20 until training camp this fall, so he has a lot of room to go on his development arc.

    Despite his size, Gropp is not a power forward in the traditional sense. In fact, he really does not care for the corners of the rink much at all. He keeps his nose clean
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    at pretty much all times. That said, he is a very fast player, especially for his size and has a nice scoring touch. With more practice, he could be a mid-range scorer as a pro with his stride and release. He has come a long way in the last 18 months, but he needs to improve on his ability to get open in the high rent areas of the rink and up his game-to-game work ethic.

    4. (5) Ryan Graves, D, 7.0C
    Drafted: 4th round, 110th overall, 2013

    Raw pro rookie Ryan Graves made a positive impact on a fairly weak Hartford roster in 2015-16. He had nine goals from the blueline to lead all club d-men on a team that only had one 20-goal scorer overall. Graves started to gain the trust of his coaching staff and played in all situations as the year wore on. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, the Nova Scotia native packs a powerful punch in all aspects.

    A lot of prospects can be labeled with the “intriguing upside” tag, but Graves might be the most apt to get that label in this group. A big man, Graves’ skating has improved since his days in the QMJHL and now really just his first step needs improvement; the rest of his skating mechanics are more than serviceable. He has a rocket of a shot too and a level of comfort for playing on the right side despite being a left-handed shot. He has really yet to find his stride defensively – there is a lot of inconsistency to work out. Graves does not appear to have a Nicklas Lidstrom-like sixth sense about what is going to happen next, but he has his helmet on the right way out there – he may just be some good coaching and experience away from being a Jason Garrison type of player.

    3. (2) Brady Skjei, D, 7.0C
    Drafted: 1st round, 28th overall, 2012

    After a three-year tour with the University of Minnesota, Brady Skjei’s long-awaited pro debut came to pass to in 2015-16. Moreover, he even got a tablespoon-sized serving of NHL play late in the season and into the playoffs, where he played all five games in a loss to Pittsburgh. The rangy, mobile defenseman quickly became a big minute-muncher on a woeful Hartford club. He finished with 28 points in 68 games, second best among defensemen on the club. This offensive activity is a promising sign after a notably unproductive collegiate career; Skjei never finished any better than third among Gopher defensemen in points, scoring just 27 points in 109 NCAA games.

    At 6-foot-3, 206 pounds, armed with splendid multi-directional skating ability, Skjei seems like a player on track to do great things. However, there are some issues that need work and have needed work since being drafted. He does not have very strong technical skills, which limits his ability to be a three-zone puck carrier through traffic – though he certainly has the speed to take it the distance if the ice is relatively open. But more importantly, he seems a little slow to process things on the rink and the errors lend themselves to more than just plain old inexperience. On sustained attack time against, Skjei often loses track of players or gets caught behind the net or just drifting into dead space, and even when the puck is regained, he is often a half-beat late on making himself available for outlet passes for his partner. Hopefully more experience will help to fill some of these holes.

    2. (3) Igor Shestyorkin, G, 8.0C
    Drafted: 4th round, 118th overall, 2014

    Though he did have some KHL time as a teenager and was splendid in the 2015 World Junior Championships, Igor Shestyorkin really made a name for himself at the pro level this season. He erased all comers in the VHL (Russia’s second tier league) with a 1.19 goals against average and .954 save percentage in 25 games. Both stats are league records. He also came up to the KHL and did not look the least bit out of place as a 20 year old. He served as the primary backup down the stretch for a dynamite SKA club into the playoffs and it seems likely he will share the nets with Mikko Koskinen next season. Shestyorkin was named as the third string goaltender for Team Russia at the 2016 World Championships.

    Shestyorkin oozes potential with his high level of athleticism and excellent movement. He needs to find a goaltending coach that jives with his somewhat flamboyant style to help him maximize his potential. He has a little bit of everything in his game sometimes, which isn’t terrible for a young goalie: sometimes he’s butterfly, sometimes he’s acrobatic, there’s some VH setups on the posts, some paddle down reactions and even some adventurous stickhandling maneuvers. NHL shooters love un-set feet and that’s something Shestyorkin will need to improve upon in addition to his very low glove placement. As he matures and adapts to higher competition, the young Russian’s future will become clearer.

    1. (1) Pavel Buchnevich, LW, 8.0C
    Drafted: 3rd round, 75th overall, 2013

    A veteran of more than 150 KHL games by the age of 21, the Russian standout has impressed domestically and on the world stage. A late season trade sent the young forward to SKA from Cherepovets, which did curtail his production and ice time a bit, as SKA had a much less flimsy roster than the last place team from Cherepovets. For perspective, despite leaving the team with one-third of the season remaining, Buchnevich still finished second on the Severstal-sponsored club in goals and points.

    He is a technical, Russian-taught winger with lightning quick hands and subtle puck protection ability, almost reminiscent of a young Evgeni Malkin (not that he necessarily has that kind of upside, but stylistically, there are some similarities). Buchnevich is a very good and efficient skater and has nice small area footwork with a high degree of escapability. The playmaking acumen will really explode if he finds a chemistry match at the NHL level to work with, as his passing is, at times, sublime – at other times, though, can be a little too adventurous. Armed with a very easy release, he can get the puck up in a hurry or the left-handed shooter can bore a hole in a goaltender with a mid-range slapshot. The former third round pick can be engaging in terms of physical battles, but he is not a punishing hitter by any means. The Rangers signed the potential stud to a three-year, entry-level contract on May 13; candidly, it is difficult to envision a scenario where he is not on the NHL roster on opening night.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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    Top prospects for New York Rangers

    Forwards Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich ready to thrive in NHL

    by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

    NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the New York Rangers.

    The New York Rangers had been fairly quiet much of the offseason, trading for center Mika Zibanejad on July 18 but not signing any big-name free agents. That all changed Friday when they agreed to terms with free agent forward Jimmy Vesey.

    The addition of Vesey likely will affect New York's other forward prospects in their push for a spot on the opening night roster. With the losses of Keith Yandle (traded to Florida Panthers) and Dan Boyle (unrestricted free agent), New York also has a spot or two open on defense. Training camp will determine which of the Rangers' young players get those final roster spots.

    Here are the Rangers' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

    1. Jimmy Vesey, LW

    How acquired: Signed as free agent Aug. 19, 2016

    Last season: Harvard (NCAA): 33 GP, 24-22-46

    Vesey, 23, became the Rangers' best prospect the minute he agreed to terms on a contract with them. The 6-foot-3, 203-pound forward, who won the 2016 Hobey Baker Award as the top NCAA player as a senior at Harvard University, likely will step into a top-six role on a line centered by Zibanejad or Derek Stepan.

    "It's not just going to be given to me; I'm going to have to put in the work and perform on the ice," said Vesey, who became an unrestricted free agent Tuesday after the Buffalo Sabres failed to sign him. "But I thought New York was somewhere that I could plug in right away and be on the opening night roster."

    Vesey had 56 goals in his final two seasons at Harvard and should help provide some scoring punch for the Rangers, who traded center Derick Brassard, their leading goal-scorer last season, for Zibanejad.

    "I think that he's very confident in his ability, and when he looked at our team, I think he sees an opportunity to play," general manager Jeff Gorton said. "I think he likes the fact that some other players that we've brought in recently have gotten opportunities as young players.

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    2. Brady Skjei, D

    How acquired: Selected with No. 28 pick in 2012 NHL Draft

    Last season: New York: 7 GP, 0-0-0; Hartford (AHL): 68 GP, 4-24-28

    Skjei (6-3, 206) is set to take on a bigger role with the Rangers this season after he played in seven regular-season games and had two assists in five Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2015-16. The 22-year-old had 28 points in 68 games for Hartford last season, second among defensemen for New York's American Hockey League affiliate behind Mat Bodie's 36. He could be on the Rangers' top pair with captain Ryan McDonagh, who he played with during the 2016 postseason.

    "As far as development goes, Skjei made some great strides this year and down the stretch in Hartford, and in the playoffs with the Rangers, he was on the right side a bunch," director of player development Chris Drury said. "The way he progressed this year, I could see him doing some good things come September for our team."

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    3. Pavel Buchnevich, LW

    How acquired: Selected with No. 75 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

    Last season: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): 18 GP, 4-4-8; Severstal (KHL): 40 GP, 12-17-29

    Buchnevich (6-1, 176) appeared headed for a top-six role after the the losses of Brassard and Eric Staal (signed with Minnesota Wild) but probably won't find himself in one following the additions of Zibanejad and Vesey. The 21-year-old, who increased his point total in each of his four seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, will have to play his way into the bottom six during training camp.

    "He's going to be given every shot," Drury said. "He's obviously played in a men's league over in Russia. He played in the KHL against older, faster, stronger guys. The culture change of coming here, not only a new style of hockey but living in a new country, the new language is certainly real, but he is really committed to being here. He has been here all summer training. ... So he is doing all the right things."

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    4. Nicklas Jensen, LW

    How acquired: Trade with Vancouver Canucks, Jan. 8, 2016

    Last season: Hartford (AHL): 41 GP, 15-10-25; Utica (AHL): 27 GP, 4-8-12

    Jensen (6-3, 202) was traded to the Rangers along with a draft pick for forward Emerson Etem. The 23-year-old had 19 goals and 18 assists in 68 AHL games last season. He'll likely start in Hartford this season, but he would be one of the top candidates for a recall if an injury occurs.

    "On the development side, I thought he did great things for us when he came to Hartford," Drury said. "He really turned our season around, created a lot of chemistry with [forward Marek] Hrivik, played really well down there, not just scoring but in all three zones. He's another guy who is anxious for an opportunity, and I'm sure he'll come back in great shape and ready to go in training camp."

    Projected NHL arrival: Next season

    5. Ryan Graves, D

    How acquired: Selected with No. 110 in 2013 NHL Draft

    Last season: Hartford (AHL): 74 GP, 9-12-21

    The Rangers have a spot open on defense, but it likely will go to Skjei. Graves (6-4, 226) likely is at least another year from making the NHL roster.

    "I think he turned a lot of heads [last] year in Hartford," Drury said. "Working with [Rangers assistant coach Jeff] Beukeboom, made good strides in a lot of different areas in his game. He was an AHL all-star. He did a lot of stuff with and without the puck, which was nice to see and I think coming from development camp, he was mature, he looked like he came back on even more of a mission, was bigger and stronger and his skating continues to improve."

    Ryan, 21, is not related to former Rangers forward Adam Graves.

    Projected NHL arrival: Next season
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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