Prospect Park: Say Hello To The New Season

In News, Prospect Park by Jess Rubenstein

Lias Andersson (Jim McIlsaac)

Forgive me if I sound mean but while so many are counting down to the 2018-2019 hockey season, I can say that my new season has started. Training camps have started opening up across North America in the junior leagues. Heck already Riley Hughes has had a three-point exhibition game.

Most of you are aware that the Rangers have released their 2018 Traverse City roster. A roster of 24 players that is interesting in so many different ways. I have mixed feelings about the roster as there is both good and bad about this roster.

Sean Day (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The good is that 16 prospects are Ranger’s property. Call this an improvement as the team is trying to restock the prospect pipeline with youth. The oldest of this roster will be 24 and the youngest 18. It is a shame that only two of the 2018 draft class are attending but that is not the fault of the Rangers. Nine prospects are under contract in Europe while five are attending NCAA schools(one is playing Junior A).

It is not a bad roster even if many of the top prospects are not a part of the roster. Even better is that 10 prospects have played at Traverse City before giving the Rangers a better chance in this tournament.

What I don’t like is seeing both Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil on the roster. Neither has anything to gain by appearing in this tournament other than risking injury. If the Rangers have questions about whether these two are NHL ready then find out in training camp. Traverse City is for new entries into the system, not players expected to be key pieces on this year’s roster.

It is high risk, low reward for both prospects and the Rangers had best pray no free agent looking to make an impression tries running them.

The prospect with the most on the line could be goalie Chris Nell as he has to have a good camp. Nell is in his contract year and is coming off a weak first year. There are three goalies ahead of him on the depth chart so a poor camp and Nell becomes an ECHL burial.

Libor Hajek (Regina Pats)

The Rangers have eight defensemen on this roster but only one (Joey Keane) is a right-handed shot. That makes seven lefties playing defense and the ones who can play on their opposite side the best will help himself the most. If you want to something to drool over then a Sean Day/Libor Hajek power play pairing is one to look forward to. The best two offensive-minded defenders working together sounds like fun.

Five centers, six left wings, and just three right wings will make whoever is running the lines out there a rather hard job. Wish I had some good news on if the tournament will be televised but only the St. Louis Blues have announced streaming but they play in the opposite division from the Rangers.

But one last thing, the Rangers could take a lesson from the Detroit Red Wings who open their training camp practices to the public (they do charge 10 for standing and 20 for reserved seating).