The simple definition of success is the achievement of a goal or purpose. For prospective NHL players, their goal is to make it with a hockey club, provide them with their individual talents and contribute towards a Stanley Cup.
For Chris Kreider, his debut during the 2011-12 playoffs for the New York Rangers was more than a success—it was an eye opener.
In 18 playoff games, Kreider notched five goals and two assists and was, at times, their best goal-scoring threat. The Boston College alumni played as a boy amongst men, yet still displayed his tremendous offensive ability and speed. It got many thinking what Kreider could do over the course of a full NHL schedule.
Onlookers will find that out in 2012-13, as Kreider has an excellent chance at playing on one of New York's top two lines.
But what about other Rangers rookies? Are there any within the pipeline that could achieve similar success, by coming in and immediately contributing to the team?
Let's take a look.
Son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, Ryan Bourque is coming off his first professional season with the Connecticut Whale, finishing with six goals and eight assists in 68 games. Bourque also tallied two goals and an assist in nine Whale playoff games.
It was a subpar season for Bourque's standards as he dealt with injuries most of the season, mainly concussions.
However, training camp in September is a clean slate and will give Bourque the chance to impress the coaching staff once again.
Bourque's biggest assets are his speed and motor—think Ryan Callahan with the speed of Hagelin. With the Rangers current bottom six consisting of lead-foots such as Brian Boyle and Mike Rupp, if Bourque can show he can handle the NHL game, his energy, tenacity on the forecheck and speed would give the bottom two lines a new dynamic.
The one detriment holding back Bourque is his lack of NHL size (5'9'' 164 lbs.) To play the game he does requires tons of strength, balance and hockey sense to make up for the discrepancy in size.
A spot isn't necessarily open, but if Ryan Bourque can impress, the coaching staff will find a place for him.
Upon reading this slide, you might say who? But Marek Hrivik should be on any Rangers fan's radar.
He's on the team's radar.
The Blueshirts signed the 20-year-old Slovakian winger back on May 30 to a three-year, entry-level deal on the back of his five-goal performance in the playoffs for the Whale last season. He may be a bit green still to join a pro hockey team, but his scouting report is intriguing.
Via Hockey's Future:
Talented offensively, Hrivik also showed a willingness to do the smaller things that help win hockey games including a crucial buy-in with Moncton's defense-first system. With a quick shot and a nose for the net, the 19-year-old is a constant threat in the offensive zone, but needs to continue to work on his skating. Struggling at times with consistent effort, Hrivik is at his best when he engaging the opposition and using his body to create chances and protect the puck.
The most encouraging thing to take away from Hrivik is the fact he likes to do the small things. Winners know the little things that win games are the biggest, most crucial aspects of all. If he can buy into Tortorella's defensive, effort-filled scheme while providing offense, then the Rangers have themselves a winning player.
A team can never have enough winning players. Keep an eye on Hrivik come September.
Perhaps the Rangers prospect with the best chance of making the team out of training camp, J.T. Miller's first year in the organization has been an immensely successful one.
Miller was drafted 15th overall at the 2011 NHL draft—off the board as no one had him pegged in the first round—selected to represent the U.S. at the World Juniors, looked impressive in his first NHL training camp last September, notched 62 points (25 goals, 37 assists) in 61 games during his first season with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL and finished his year with the Connecticut Whale during their playoff run.
Talk about an impressive year.
Miller's game would fit in well with John Tortorella's Rangers. He's a gritty, two-way jack-of-all-trades forward who plays well along the boards, is a decent faceoff man and has good offensive upside.
His original assessment had Miller pegged at least two or three years away from making it to the NHL. However, his rapid growth and popularity within the organization gives the Ohio native a chance come September if he can show he can handle the NHL game.
Miller is truly a dark horse candidate, but his timeline to the NHL is much shorter than originally thought.