Just when you thought the 2013-2014 New York Ranger season
was over, the 2014-2015 is about to begin on Monday when the Rangers hold their
Prospect Development Camp. Yes they call it the 2014 Camp but this is where the
Rangers begin looking at the franchise as a whole to determine the direction to
take for free agency, trades and scouting for the upcoming season,
As of this writing there are 37 players invited to attend
(number to change due to last minute additions or subtractions) from the Ranger’s “crown jewels of the future”
to players hoping beyond hope to earn a professional contract somewhere in the
hockey world if not with the Rangers.
The “crown jewels” are defenseman Brady Skjei (2012 1st)
and forward Anthony Duclair (2013 3rd) as the Rangers will be very
interested in their progress thus far for different reasons. For Skjei who will
be a junior at the University of Minnesota, this will be his 3rd PDC
and many among the hockey community are expecting Skjei to have a big season
which could lead to his finally turning professional.
Skjei as longtime readers of Prospect Park know that I have
said that Skjei’s development has mirrored Ryan McDonagh when McDonagh was
playing at Wisconsin. In this camp the hope has to be to see Skjei dominate the
camp as well as show improvement in his offensive game.
Anthony Duclair will be watched to see how he has recovered
from the concussion that he suffered at the end of the QMJHL regular season
which caused him to miss the final 7 regular season games as well as the QMJHL
playoffs. The concern was that Duclair had not gone symptom free for a week as
required by QMJHL rules by the time his Quebec Remparts had been eliminated.
From a time standpoint we are talking over a month without
any signs of improvement. If Duclair has any hope of making the jump to the NHL
this seasin then here is his first steps to convince the powers that be.
It will also be interesting to see Adam Tambellini (2013 3rd)
and how he does in the camp. While this will be Tambellini’s 2nd camp, this year Tambellini will be a member of the Calgary Hitmen. It is a
difference because last year Tambellini was headed to North Dakota but when he
left school he became eligible to play in the AHL.
Tambellini needs to show improvement in his frame as despite
being 6’3, Tambellini was almost pencil thin but that didn’t stop him from
going 17-22-39 with 11 power play goals in just 31 games. The other area for
improvement with Tambellini needs to be on defense as he wasn’t all that strong
What is really curious is why isn’t Tambellini under
contract like draft classmates Duclair, Ryan Graves and McKenzie Skapski? Maybe
it is a “carrot on a stick” with Tambellini to see if he might be worth signing
and sending to Hartford this season or maybe the Rangers are wanting to send
him a message about communication when it comes to important decisions. One
thing is sure and that if Tambellini continues his progress from last season then
like Duclair last year Tambellini will piling up the points.
The camp is also going to be the introduction to the Ranger
system and player development program for quite a number of prospects as with
the exception of goalie Igor Shesterkin, the entire 2014 draft class will be
there as will free agent signees Matt Bodie, Ryan Haggerty, Chris McCarthy,
Petr Zamorsky and 2012 4th round pick Calle Andersson.
For the newcomers this camp will beside on ice sessions have
fitness training and “one on one” sessions so the Ranger staff can design individual
training and nutrition guides for each prospect to help them during their
off-season workouts. Some friendly advice to each prospect and that is to
follow their guides to the letter otherwise it will show in September when the
prospects gather to play in the Traverse City Tournament.
Now this camp is interesting because of who is there as
invited or who isn’t scheduled to attend but should have to help their possible
careers. First the interesting invitees as it is pretty clear that Ranger’s Direct
of Player Personnel Gordie Clark and Asst. GM Jeff Gorton spent a lot of time
in the New England area.
Some of the attendees are bringing some interesting items
about them as defenseman Luke Curadi of RPI is 6’5 265 who has the twitter
handle @thegronk5. Curadi isn’t a player expected to sign as he will be a
senior at RPI but his twitter handle and postings are almost out of the movie “Slapshot.”
Size will be on display at the camp as 6’7 defenseman Troy
Donnay (already under contract), 6’5 invitee RW Kevin Duane of Boston
University, defensemen Samuel Noreau (6’5), Ryan Mantha (6’4) and 6’6 invitee
goalie Matt O’Connor of Boston University.
If O’Connor rings a bell it is because he was the winning
goalie for BU over Cornell at the Red Hot Hockey matchup at Madison Square
Garden this past winter.
Other interesting people is Justin Baker and Nick Latta who
were both signed to ATO’s (Amateur Tryout Contracts) for Hartford this past
season are scheduled to attend. I like Latta as he has possibilities as a late
Defenseman Travis Brown and RW Logan Nelson come to the camp
from the Victoria Royals of the WHL. The GM of the Royals is former Ranger’s
Asst. GM Cameron Hope. The Royals play on Vancouver Island which requires a 2
hour ferry ride or 20 minute flight from Vancouver to reach it.
Those who are not on the roster include Ryan Graves (2013 4th),
Cristoval Nieves (2012 2nd) and Thomas Spelling (2012 5th).
It is not a crime to miss the camp but for a prospect these camps can go a long
way into helping them improve their chances of becoming Rangers.
I can’t finish this without giving a shout out to one of my
personal favorite prospects Steven Fogarty (2011 3rd) who is
attending the camp. Fogarty attends Notre Dame and this will be his junior
season. Fogarty had a rough season as a sophomore as he was banged up a bit.
I am looking Fogarty to have strong season for Notre Dame,
graduate and become a Ranger. In that order because Steven Fogarty said so.