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Full Prospect Report Card for the NY Rangers

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIFebruary 26, 2013

Full Prospect Report Card for the NY Rangers

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    The New York Rangers feature many homegrown players on their roster, but will that remain the case in the future? Where do the players currently in the system stand? 

    We delve deep into the Rangers' system and give the team a full prospect report card.

    How did the team fare?

    Read on to find out. 

Offense

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    The Rangers have two of their top forward prospects playing in the NHL.

    Chris Kreider was a playoff sensation last season, scoring five goals in 18 games. 

    J.T. Miller has two goals and an assist so far this season.

    Kreider and Miller are the Rangers' two best prospects, but they still also have several talented forwards.

    Michael St. Croix is a star in the Western Hockey League. He's scored 31 goals and has 43 assists in just 63 games. 

    He's proven himself as a star in juniors. He'll probably spend next season in the AHL and is still not ready to be in the NHL. But he projects as a quality, speedy playmaker who could find a home centering the Rangers second line.

    Christian Thomas made his NHL debut on Saturday and did not look out of place. The son of former NHL star Steve Thomas, Christian projects as a big-time scorer. He logged 13 goals in 52 AHL games before being called up. Thomas could find himself with a permanent roster spot starting next season.

    Marek Hrivik was a big-time scorer in juniors and is starting to prove himself in the AHL. So far this season with the Whale, Hrivik has four goals and 18 assists. He still needs to fill out his body and improve his skating, but Hrivik has the chance to become a quality bottom-six forward.

    Other than Kreider, Miller and (potentially) St. Croix, the Rangers don't have too many stars in their system. What they do have, instead, is a lot quality players who can contribute to the big club.

    Kyle Jean will never be a big-time goal scorer, but has the potential to be a quality third-liner in the Brian Boyle mode. 

    Finally, Ryan Bourque, son of Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque, is a speedy winger who could find a home on the fourth line.

    The Rangers have their two big stars in Kreider and Miller, but also have a nice amount of depth behind them.

    Because of that, the Rangers' offensive prospects deserve the letter grade of B+.

Defense

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    The Rangers have done a great job of developing defensive talent in the last few years. Whether it's been Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi or Michael Del Zotto, the Blueshirts have proven they know how to draft and develop defensemen.

    The team still have many promising players in their system.

    Probably the most promising of all them is Dylan McIllrath. Drafted 10th overall in 2010, McIllrath is a big, physical defenseman. He's similar to Stu Bickel, but is much better in his own end.

    The problem for McIllrath is that he hasn't been able to stay healthy. When he reaches 100 percent, McIllrath could start to see time in New York next year. In 23 games for the Connecticut Whale, McIllrath has an assist and 79 penalty minutes.

    Brady Skjei was the Rangers' first-round pick in 2012. A freshmen for the University of Minnesota, he's been compared to Ryan McDonagh:

    “I think that’s a fair comparison,” Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton said. “He’s a tremendous skater, he has size and a lot of potential.” 

    He still has a long way to go, but Skjei has the potential to be a big-time player.

    Another of the top defensive prospects is Calle Andersson, who is currently playing in Sweden. He's a long ways away, but has good speed and some offensive skill.

    Beyond the three players mentioned above, there isn't a lot of depth. There aren't too many players who, as of now, look like NHL players.

    This weakens the defensive system overall. Because of it, the Rangers receive a C+

     

Goaltending

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    The Rangers are lucky to have Henrik Lundqvist as their goaltender. They don't need to have a top prospect in the minors.

    That's a good thing because they don't have one. In fact, the Rangers' goaltending prospects are really weak.

    The best prospect is probably Cam Talbot, who is starting for the Connecticut Whale in the AHL. He has a 2.59 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. Still, he doesn't look like much more than a backup.

    Talbot's backup in Connecticut is Jason Missiaen. He's struggled so far, putting up a 3.77 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage. It doesn't seem likely that he'll make the NHL.

    Finally, there's Scott Stajcer. Playing in the ECHL, Stajcer has a 2.72 goals-against average and a .841 save percentage. He's a longshot to be a NHL player.

    This is a really weak group and there is no set plan for the post-Lundqvist era. Because of that, this group gets a letter grade of D.

Final Grade

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    So, what is the grade for the Rangers prospects?

    Well, we gave the offensive players a grade of B+, the defense a C+ and the goalies a D.

    Average them together and you get a grade of around a C+.

    Anything over a C is still above average. The Rangers have graduated a lot of their prospects to the pros and are still a young team.

    But, of the prospects still in the system, there aren't a lot of high-end players. Outside of Kreider, Miller and perhaps McIllrath, there are many potential stars.

    The Rangers have improved their drafting over the years and some of the key contributors to the team are homegrown.

    Still, they need to do a better of job of drafting more high-end talent. They really need to come up with a plan for life after Lundqvist.

    If they can do that, their grade will drastically improve. 

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