One of the best parts of the Rangers dedication to building the team from within, has been the willingness of the organization to trust top prospects to play major roles on the big club.
In just the last three years we have seen Michael Del Zotto, Michael Sauer and Derek Stepan earn their way onto the Rangers roster out of camp, while others including Ryan McDonagh and Carl Hagelin were called-up before the halfway point of the season.
And obviously we all know about Chris Kreider’s signing before last year’s playoffs.
Now this year, a new crop of prospects will be looking to make an impression during training camp and hopefully find a spot on the opening night roster.
Those players include JT Miller, Christian Thomas, Ryan Bourque, Michael St. Croix and Marek Hrivik.
If the Rangers don’t make another acquisition this offseason, there will be an open spot in the line-up for one of those guys to earn until Marian Gaborik returns from injury in November.
So, who has the best chance? Keep reading as Jim Cerny gave James Wrabel and I some insight on Twitter yesterday.
“I am very cautious in saying Miller might make team out of camp…he is only 19 & could be in Junior, AHL, or with #NYR..but very mature.”
New CT Whale Assistant coach Jeff Beukeboom also addressed Miller’s chances as well as Thomas’ during a live chat on Blueshirts United yesterday…
“I would say he’s (Miller) in the mix, I would say Thomas is definitely an option, but there will be a bunch of players that could be penciled in for a spot on the Rangers from the pool of prospects.”
…i can’t say it enough on the blog. Miller is my guy to get that roster spot. His game is perfect for Torts’ system and he should excel. Having said that, he’ll need to prove, at age 19, he’s physically able to play against men 10 years older than he is.
…still don’t think Thomas has enough skill to overcome his size to have a real shot at making the team. Was invisible during Traverse City and training camp last season.
Cerny also handicapped the undrafted free agent Hrivik’s chances…
“a dark horse to make #NYR out of camp, BUT with Gaby hurt there will be open spot for him or Miller/Thomas/?”
…i’m definitely calling it right now, Hrivik will be the biggest surprise in camp. Not many Rangers fans know about this kid, but by the end of the preseason they will. He has size and hands to play at the NHL level. If I’m the Rangers, I have Hrivik be Nash’s shadow throughout camp and soak everything in like a sponge. Nothing like learning from one of the best power forwards in the league.
One player I left out because of his knee injury is Dylan McIlrath, who Beukeboom also discussed during the live chat…
“…unfortunately he is injured and I do not know the timetable on his recovery…I haven’t really had the opportunity to spend time coaching him.”
…this is a little concerning, because not only will McIlrath’s development be curbed by the injury, Beukeboom’s ability to coach him will be compromised as well. They will miss some very valuable time getting to know each other during training camp. Hopefully, once McIlrath returns they can make up for lost time quickly.