In case you don’t know this but having surgery as it is
royally sucks and having it in the summer makes it twice as bad. Sitting down
at a computer for extended periods just was not happening so please accept the
apologies for the lack of reporting on the New York Rangers and the prospects.
Team USA Announces Rosters
for the Summer Evaluation Camp
There will be two Ranger prospects attending Team USA’s
Summer Evaluation Camp for the Under-20 players which will run Aug 2nd-9th at Lake Placid. Goalie Brandon Halverson (2014 2nd) will play for
the Blue team while forward Keegan Iverson (2014 3rd) will be a
member of the White team. The way the camp works is that for the first 4 days
of the camp, the two teams will play against Sweden and Finland.
On August 5th there will be cuts made and the
remaining players will play games against Sweden, Finland and the Czech
Republic. I honestly believe there will be mixed results from the Ranger
prospects in this camp.
Going into the camp the early favorite to be the starting
goalie on Team USA has to be Thatcher Demko of Boston College. He was a member
of last year’s Under-20 team that finished 5th even though he did
not see action. Demko was 16-5-0-3 on a Boston College team that spent most of
the year ranked either 1st or 2nd in the college hockey
Brendan Burke of the Portland Winterhawks on paper should be number 2 goalie
based on his record last season. Keyword is on paper as I would not go to the
2015 World Under-20 Championships with Burke as my starter. This will get me in
trouble with the Winterhawks fans but Brendan Burke is not a big game goalie
despite his numbers.
Brandon Halverson will be the youngest goalie on the camp roster and I think
the coaching staff will look at experience first at this camp. Halverson might
get cut on the 5th but if he has the kind of season I expect him to
have with his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds then come December, Halverson will
get a 2nd look at the final camp.
Keegan Iverson has one big advantage going into the camp
which is that he doesn’t mind being a role player or in the case of Team USA a
player willing to be a defensive forward. Iverson played that role for the
Winterhawks last season and played it well.
It also helps that Iverson will play a physical game whether
it is along the board or in the crease which the Team USA coaching staff looks
for at this camp. Iverson will also bring some scoring with his game so really
if Iverson had continued his progression from last season then pencil him in
past the first cut.
It has been officially announced but 2014 4th round pick Ryan Mantha is expected to join the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL.
Mantha a 6’5 225lb. defenseman played last season for the Indiana Ice of the
USHL and originally had signed with North Dakota. Mantha reportedly saw the
depth chart at North Dakota and changed his mind about playing there.
Normally a project player like Mantha would be one who be
better served by 4 years of college but in this case playing in the OHL is the
best move for him. For starters, the IceDogs are a younger team so playing time
will be there for Mantha and I am a fan of Marty Williamson who is the coach of
Nothing against North Dakota as I have a ton of respect for
that program but Mantha getting to play over 70 games with the IceDogs this
season. A young defender like Mantha needs to play as much as he possibly can
which makes Niagara the ideal place for him. The question mark on Mantha here
though is how will he adapt to the faster pace of the OHL?
2014 5th round pick forward Richard Nejezchleb of
the Brandon Wheat Kings is in an interesting/awkward position as the 20 year
old from Slavia Praha in the Czech Republic would be an overage and import
player if he returns to the Wheat Kings. It is more awkward as most Canadian
junior teams do not like to use up 2 slots on one player.
Brandon in the 2014 CHL Import Draft selected a Russian
defenseman which gives them three import players which is one more than a team
is allowed to carry. Brandon will be allowed to keep all three for a short
period if the Rangers do not keep Nejezchleb but expect the Rangers to have a
vested interested wherever Nejezchleb winds up.