by Patrick Hoffman on 02/21/11 at 12:10 PM ET
Jess Rubenstein of the terrific The Prospect Park, a great blog that follows and covers both New York Rangers and New York Islanders’ prospects, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how the Rangers’ various prospects are doing this season.
PH: Which New York Rangers’ prospect has stood out the most to you this season? Why?
JR: Without a doubt Christian Thomas of the Oshawa Generals. For starters Thomas works hard at both ends of the ice which does not always get notice from a offensive weapon, and Thomas does not shy away from physical contact willing to go through traffic. Thomas is willing to take a hit to make a play.
PH: Who are some of the other Rangers’ prospects who have impressed you this season? Why?
JR: Carl Hagelin of Michigan is no longer a secret as he was when he was first selected in 2007. Strong 2 way game who can adapt to what ever situation facing him a big game player who wants the puck when the pressure is on him and produces.
Jason Wilson who was a 2010 5th round selection is an interesting player to watch, 6’3 power forward who has gotten better as the season has worn on. Very protective of his teammates.
Jesper Fasth of Sweden in his brief time in North America offers some very good potential and is a prospect to keep an eye on down the road.
PH: Which New York Rangers’ prospect (s) have struggled the most this season? What do they need to do to get better?
JR: Struggling has not been the problem this season injuries have as the Ranger prospects have been hit hard by the injuries. The Rangers have 10 prospects playing in the 3 CHL leagues and 8 of them have missed at least 5 games or more which slow down or retard development. Not to mention for several prospects who the Rangers need to decide as to whether or not to offer them a contract the injuries could be the difference between an NHL contract, an AHL one or no contract at all.
Take Scott Stajcer for example a hip injury has kept him out since November and he may or may not return in March. Stajcer is the only drafted goalie so what do the Rangers do with him? Unlike skaters, a goalie with suspect hips is a bigger gamble but the Rangers also lack depth at this position so do they sign him and hope it works out? Do they sign him and send him back to the OHL for an overage year or do let him go and start over?
Randy McNaught played only 8 games and is 20 so he either signs or is let go. Andrew Yogan just made his season debut on Saturday but if you are the Rangers, how do you prepare for the 2011 draft?
PH: Many of us focus solely on the NHL level. Why should we start paying more attention to junior/college hockey?
JR: Partly because more and more players are going directly to the NHL from the junior/college ranks skipping the minor leagues totally. The other part is more fan involvement at the junior/college levels as when was the last time you saw an NHL arena showered with teddy bears after the home team has scored?
The NHL is slowly taking the fun out of the games, try attending an event like the Beanpot in Boston where the four Boston area colleges play each other and watch the fans of the teams going at each other with songs and chants.
PH: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
JR: The Rangers are trying to get younger but as nice as it is to see, the Rangers can not expect prospects to develop overnight. The lessons of Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev show that rushing someone to the pro ranks does more harm than good.
The more patience that the Rangers and their fans show, the better of a chance there is of turning these prospects into stars.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.