September 3, 2017, 12:41 AM ET [22 Comments]
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The Rangers begin play in the Traverse City Tournament on September 8. Take a look at that sentence again. September 8, which as the end of this week, is when hockey in some form in the U.S. starts up again. For those chomping at the bit for hockey and looking for an early view of some of the team's prospects, this is a perfect chance to fill both needs. While it will not be shown on MSG, the tournament may be streamed live online, as I believe last year, the Detroit Red Wings' site on NHL.com did show some of the action.
Here is the full list of this year attendees
In the past, I have highlighted those players I was really looking forwarded to seeing. This year, that is not the case. That's not because there is no one I want to see, but compared to previous seasons, there are many more worth a viewing. To highlight that, take a look at last year's roster below:
Here is the full list of the 2016 attendees:
While there were players that I was looking forward to seeing last year, New York has improved the prospect depth, even though they appear in the bottom-10% of the rankings in that regard. At least half the roster are names that many of us believe at one point or another will at least receive a cup of coffee for the Rangers. In addition, for several, the hope and belief is that they will have key roles for the Blueshirts, possibly as early as this season.
The list of players who I want to see is below:
Forwards: Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Tim Gettinger, Ryan Gropp. Vinni Letteri, Ty Ronning and Malte Stromwall Pavel Buchnevich, Tim Gettinger, Ryan Gropp, Robin Kovacs, Brad Morrison, Boo Nieves, Ty Ronning, Malte Stromwall and Jimmy Vesey.
(the list shouldn't surprise anyone. Andersson, who likely shouldn't have been playing in Sweden, gets another chance to show he belongs in NY this year. He excelled in the World Junior Summer Showcase (WJSS) and has the opportunity to build off that success in Traverse City. I really wanted to see Chytil, but he tore a leg muscle during the U20 Four Nations and will be unable to play. He is coming back to New York, enabling the team to determine the extent of the injury and how long he will be sidelined. It's unclear if he will be in Traverse City. Gettinger took a major step forward last year, better using his size to start acting like a power forward. He had a strong WJSS and could surprise this year. For Gropp, the question is if his success was solely a product of playing with Matthew Barzal, making this year extremely important. Lettieri was signed after his senior season at the University of Minnesota. He played nine games at Hartford after he signed. Lettieri was look to grow his game in the AHL and projects to possibly be a bottom-six, shut-down NHL forward. Ronning, a 2016 draft pick, could play at Hartford this season and i love how despite his small size, he gives no quarter in the ice. Stromwall was highly touted coming into last season but didn't show much at Hartford, making this year a big season for him)
Defense: Alexei Bereglazov, Brandon Crawley, Sean Day, Vince Pedrie, Neal Pionk and Sergey Zborovskiy
(New York added several defensemen over the past year, four of whom will be on full display at the tournament. Berezgalov signed this year should contend for a roster spot in training camp. He projects to be a shutdown d-man and could 2017-18 as the team's seventh d-man, depending on what happens with Nick Holden and Marc Staal. Crawley, selected in the fourth round this season, projects to be a possible shutdown d-man in the future. His offense and skating are far from his fortes, but improvement in each would go a long way to assisting his move up the ladder. Day's game took a major step forward this past season. He still needs work in all aspects of his game, save for skating and especially in decision making, but he may have the highest upside of any blueliner in the system. Pedrie, signed out of Penn State, is an offensive defenseman who loves to shoot. That will be his calling card as he tries to move up the ladder. But for that to happen, his defensive game needs to substantially improve. Pionk, signed out of Minnesota-Duluth, is a solid two-way d-man,. Like Berezgalov, he could earn a roster spot in training camp. On paper, Zborovskiy substantially improved. But Adam Herman in his prospect rankings noted that Zborovskiy benefitted tremendously from whom he was on the ice with, making his numbers look less than impressive. He still has a long way to show he belongs at the upper levels).
Goalies: Alexander Georgiev and Chris Nell
(Georgiev played for TPS in Finland last season. He could open this year and Hartford, and with a strong season, get consideration for a backup role on Broadway next year, Nell signed as a free agent after leading Bowling Green to an NCAA Tournament appearance. He will battle Georgiev and Brandon Halverson to play for the Wolfpack. But he likely starts the season in the ECHL).
The Rangers are in the Gordie Howe division and the tournament runs from Friday 9/8 to Tuesday 9/12:
9/8: 7:00PM against Chicago
9/9: 3:30PM against Carolina
9/11: 3:00PM against Detroit
9/20 Championship/Consolation Games against Ted Lindsay Division
As noted above, it's unclear if the games will be streamed or televised. Hopefully that will be the case, since many of the names are ones that could be in NY this season, especially to start the year. Between this and the World Championships, we will be able to sate our hockey hunger.
New York’s roster features 23 prospects (14 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goaltenders), including three of the team’s selections in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft: Andersson, Chytil and Crawley. New York has consistently had a player who appeared in the tourney play for the Rangers during the regular season. In 2016-17, Pavel Buchnevich, Cristobal Nieves and Jimmy Vesey started their season in Traverse City and saw time with New York during the year.