Stepan, McDonagh headed to World Championships

Henrik Lundqvist, at the request of the New York Rangers brass, declined to play for Team Sweden yesterday at the upcoming World Championship tournament held in Slovakia. Today, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, two of the Rangers’ most prized rookies, announced that they would be joining Team U.S.A.

The former Wisconsin Badger teammates will join former World Junior Championship teammate and New York Rangers’ 2009 first-round pick Chris Kreider on the U.S.A. squad. Kreider recently announced that he would be returning to Boston College for his junior year, much to the chagrin of Rangers officials who had hoped he’d have made the jump to at least the professional level, if not the N.H.L. all together.

Here are some quotes from the two young Rangers, courtesy of Andrew Gross at the Bergen Record and the Ranger Rants blog.

“It felt like a long year but it goes by quick,” McDonagh said. “It was quite an experience, the first year. I didn’t know how to take being sent to Hartford (AHL, out of training camp) and what it would do for me but it was probably the best thing for me. I learned a lot – how hard I want to stay here, how bad I want to be in the NHL.”

I really wonder how McDonagh would have fared making the team out of training camp. Like he said, though, it was probably for the best. They already have Michael del Zotto who, let’s be honest, may be given one more year to get his game in order.

“It was a good season for us, I was happy with my performance,” Stepan said. “In the playoffs, I’d like to find a way to some hockey games there. (Ninety games), you’ve just got to take care of your body and do a good job staying mentally sharp.”

I’m sure playing 90 hockey games is a brutal task, but the kid is only 20 years old. I’m sure the San Jose Sharks aren’t thinking about sitting Logan Couture for the next series because he’s hit too many games. Sometimes work loads get blown out of proportion. Let the kid play.

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