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9 Questions Facing The Rangers At Traverse City
The Traverse City prospect tournament begins tomorrow, and we'll learn a lot about the Rangers prospects this week...

This will be Evgeny Grachev's 3rd appearance at Traverse City

This will be Evgeny Grachev's 3rd appearance at Traverse City

1.  Is Evgeny Grachev the super-prospect we thought we had before last season, or the guy who struggled mightily in Hartford?

The tournament alone won’t answer this question.  But both Grachev himself and the organization could use some reassurance that Grachev is indeed poised to be a goal-scorer at the NHL level.  In all likelihood Grachev will have one more full season in Hartford to refine his game before he’s expected to make the Rangers next year.  A solid showing at Traverse City would do wonders for Grachev’s confidence and would really help him get this season off on the right foot.

2.  Is Dylan McIlrath the goon defender TSN’s analysts led us to believe on draft night, or a potential Chris Pronger in-the-making, a comparison we’ve heard more and more as the summer has gone along?

Obviously, McIlrath is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.  He has a long, long way to go before he’s even NHL ready, let alone a perennial All-Star.  The organization had an incredible amount of faith in McIlrath going into the draft, and Dylan himself seems like a very confident young man.  But Rangers fans would be thrilled to see McIlrath post a couple points on offense and play shut-down defense on top of his seemingly inevitable fight (or fights). 


3.  Are any of the non-roster players worth signing?

The Rangers are bringing four players: Brandon Shinnimin, Kelsey Tessier, Jason Bast and Daniel Manning, to Traverse City that have previously had nothing to do with the team.  The tournament is a huge chance for all four; with good performances they could be offered contracts by the Rangers or any of the NHL’s 29 other teams.  Of the three, Manning appears to be the most intriguing as he plays a solid two-way game and has decent size.  It will be interesting to see how these four look next to the best prospects the Rangers have to offer.


4.  Is Ryan Bourque’s monster preseason a sign of things to come?

Ray Bourque’s undersized kid has his share of critics.  Many believe that he’s too small for the NHL and if he does make it, it will be in a defensive forward third line role.  Bourque has scored 10 points in four preseason games and appears to be on a mission to prove everyone wrong.  He’s not frequently mentioned among the Rangers’ top prospects, but Bourque is certainly showing that he’s not going down without a fight. 


5.  Is Roman Horak set to be the next out-of-nowhere Rangers prospect?

Jess Rubenstein certainly thinks so.  Horak has flown under the radar a bit since he was drafted, but he’s got a lot of offensive talent and can play pretty will on both ends of the ice according to Jess.  We’ll see if Horak catches the Rangers’ eyes.

6.  Is Ryan McDonagh ready?

McDonagh should be looking at TC as a tune up for the real test of Rangers training camp next week.  Many folks expect him to make the team, so he needs to dominate the competition at TC.  Anything less would be a disappointment.


7.  Are either of the goalies legitimate NHL prospects?

Scott Stajcer had a rough year following his draft selection and may soon be out of the Rangers plans.  Really, unless something happens to Henrik (God forbid) the Rangers won’t need any of their young goalies to be NHL starters.  However, it’s always good to have depth, and trade bait.  Cam Talbot has come out of nowhere and has surpassed Stajcer on the depth chart. 


8.  How will the rest of the 2010 draft picks perform?

There’s no doubt that the most pressure is on McIlrath.  But this is also our first look at Andrew Yogan, Jason Wilson, Christian Thomas and Randy McNaught.  Each has a well-documented weakness: Yogan’s consistency and desire, Wilson’s health, Thomas’s size, and McNaught’s one-dimensional goon game.  It will be interesting to see how each handles their first serious competition in a Ranger uniform. 


9.  Is Derek Stepan AHL or WHL bound?

Many members of the Rangers front office insist that Stepan will play with the Rangers at some point this year.  That’s a little premature, as it’s very possible Stepan won’t even play in Hartford this season.  TC and training camp will be good barometers of Stepan’s development.

Posted by Kevin Baumer | September 10, 2010 at 02:49 pm

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