After two impressive wins to open the Traverse City tournament, the New York Rangers prospects lost two straight games, including last night against the Buffalo Sabres, falling 5-2 in the championship game.
Unfortunately, the Rangers were unable to win the tournament, but there is still plenty to be happy about. For one, the Rangers’ top prospects of Tim Erixon, Dylan McIlrath, Ryan Bourque and Christian Thomas all looked very strong over the five-day tournament.
Starting with Erixon, the kid has given the Rangers’ brass every reason to consider him for the big club this season. He looks poised and calm every shift, and sees the ice very well. It’s clear his time in Sweden has helped him develop quicker than most. He was clearly the most NHL-ready Ranger throughout the tournament.
McIlrath showed his toughness and grit all week, especially in his fight in one of the earlier games. I like that he was given the C, and he showed why throughout the tournament. I don’t think he’s NHL-ready, and a season in the AHL would no-doubt do the 2010 first-round pick good. This kid is going to be a main-stay on the Rangers blue line sooner rather than later.
Bourque is just lighting on his skates, and showed he’s not scared to take the body, even against players much bigger than him (which are many). Another prominent Ranger features many of the same qualities, like Captain Ryan Callahan. Like McIlrath, I’m not quite sure he’s ready for the NHL, and a season in Connecticut will help him. He still needs to get a little bigger, but man, his speed will definitely be an asset to this organization. Bourque finished with four goals in his third Traverse City tournament.
Finally, Thomas showed how good his hands are on several shots, but only registered one goal, a little than I would have liked. I sound like a broken record, but he’s another guy I don’t think is ready for Broadway, but isn’t too far off.
Carl Hagelin also made a case for possibly cracking the roster at some point this season after his strong college years at the University of Michigan. I wasn’t too impressed with either Scott Stajcer or Jason Missiaen in net, but luckily this team isn’t looking for a goaltender.
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