The New York Rangers' Best Prospect at Each Position Entering 2013-14 Season
The New York Rangers have a number of promising prospects at a variety of different positions. Some may even make a big impact during the 2013-14 season.
Which prospects are the best at their respective positions?
We'll go position-by-position to unveil the best prospects at each position entering the 2013-14 season.
Read on to find out who they are.
Left Wing: Chris Kreider
Chris Kreider, believe it or not, has only played in 23 NHL regular-season games.
He has, however, played in 26 postseason games, where he's scored six goals and added three assists.
Last season was a rough one, and he certainly did not play at the level he did in the 2012 postseason.
In 71 games between the Rangers and the Connecticut Whale, Kreider scored only 14 goals and had just three assists.
Quite frankly, that's not good enough. It is true that Kreider did not play in an offensive role when he was with the Rangers, as he was too often banished to the fourth line. But he should've dominated the AHL. He did not.
Kreider showed flashes of his undeniable potential toward the end of the 2013 postseason. In the last two games of the series against the Boston Bruins, Kreider played on a line with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. He scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 4 and looked more like a real offensive threat.
That would be, in my opinion, the ideal first line for this season. It would give Kreider a chance to play a simple north-south game, and he wouldn't have to get too bogged down in defensive assignments, where he has struggled.
I do think this will be a breakout year for Kreider. If he is allowed to play with top players, then there is no reason why he shouldn't score at least 20 goals.
Center: J.T. Miller
J.T. Miller showed impressive skill and poise in his debut season, scoring two goals in 26 NHL games.
At just 20, Miller has a long way to go in his own zone. But he has shown promise as a two-way center, with deft passing ability, a sneakily good shot and great skating ability.
Miller should make the team. In fact, it would be a pretty big shock if he did not.
He may have to play wing, but he will play important minutes on the third line and could score 15 goals.
He's an impressive prospect who may end up as a second-line center once he hits his prime.
Right Wing: Danny Kristo
Danny Kristo was acquired from Montreal in a July trade that sent Christian Thomas to the Habs.
Kristo just finished a terrific season with University of North Dakota, where he scored 26 goals and had 26 assists in just 40 games.
While there's no doubt he has the potential to be an elite offensive force, it is a little curious that the Habs traded him for such a little return. Christian Thomas is a decent player but probably will never be more than a third-line player.
One potential reason was that, in his freshmen year at UND, Kristo suffered frostbite because, according to the Roman Augustoviz of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he "made the mistake of trying to walk to his girlfriend's apartment without the proper attire on a night when the wind chill was 33 below zero." Not exactly the best way to go about your business.
If his head is on straight, however, Kristo has elite offensive potential. At the 2010 World Junior Championships, he assisted on two goals in the gold-medal game and had eight points in seven games.
With Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin expected to miss at least some of the beginning of the season, there are opportunities for young guys to make an impact. Kristo has the best chance. He has great speed and has a good shot. He could make an immediate impact.
Defense: Dylan McIlrath
McIlrath has battled injuries, but he may be running out of chances.
In fact, a year from now, he may be overtaken by Brady Skjei as the best defensive prospect.
McIlrath played in 45 games for the Connecticut Whale, posting only five assists.
However, he had 125 penalty minutes and projects as a nasty, crease-clearing defenseman.
He has an outside chance of cracking the top six this season. More likely, however, he will be in the starting lineup for the 2014-15 season.
The Rangers need someone like McIlrath on their roster. He will clear the crease for Henrik Lundqvist. If he can stay healthy and get a full season under his belt, then perhaps he can finally reach his enormous potential.
Time is running out, however. He was drafted 10th overall in 2010. Cam Fowler, who was selected 12th overall in the same draft, has already established himself as a productive NHL defenseman. Justin Faulk, who was selected 37th overall in that draft, could see significant playing time for the Americans in Sochi.
Players do develop at different rates, and it's entirely possible that McIlrath will have a better career than Fowler and Faulk.
Still, there are other prospects—like Skjei and Calle Andersson—who may surpass McIlrath soon.
Goaltender: Cam Talbot
There is no prospect in the Rangers' system who is capable of holding down a starting job in the NHL.
The best prospect is Cam Talbot. Talbot played 55 games with the Connecticut Whale, putting up a 2.63 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.
In other words, Talbot is passable as an AHL starter, but the Rangers will be in big trouble if Talbot has to start a game in the NHL.
The Rangers don't need a goaltender any time soon, as Henrik Lundqvist is expected to sign a long-term contract. Still, the depth needs to be improved. If there is a significant injury to Lundqvist, either now or in the next few years, the Rangers will not have any homegrown talent to adequately replace him.
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