There are players in the New York Rangers organization who played this week without embarrassing themselves. I swear! They just happen to not be in the NHL.
A whole number of Rangers prospects played Friday night, including all those at the Hartford Wolfpack. Despite trailing 3-1 and then 4-3 late in the game, the Wolfpack were persistent and forced the game to a shootout, which they won on JT Miller and Danny Kristo goals.
Miller did enough to earn the First Star, but contradictingly had a mixed game. One bad, unforced turnover in his own zone (hey, I wonder where he learned that from) and he lost his man a few times. However, he did skate well, tried to generate offense, and successfully deflected a puck past Phantoms goaltender Yann Danis. He also had, as previously mentioned, a pretty nifty shootout goal.
Kristo similarly had some bright spots as well as some blemishes. He's always trying to make things happen in the offensive zone, and many times he's successful. He tied the game late with a wicked wrister from above the faceoff circle on the powerplay and had a primary assist earlier in the game. He showed off his quick shot again in the shootout, beating Danis 5-hole. There's no question that Kristo has NHL-caliber offensive talent. But he needs some work on the rest of his game.
Chris Kreider was, in my mind, the best forward for the Wolfpack. He scored a goal off a deflection similar to Miller's and wreaked havoc in the offensive zone the entire game. He was equally impressive in the defensive zone, eagerly tying up sticks and causing turnovers. Kreider is off to a very strong start with the Wolfpack. Ideally he stays there for some time and really gets into a rhythm, but with how things are going for the Rangers right now they may be forced to change their look. Kreider would be my first choice for a call-up.
Dylan McIlrath was certainly the most active player on the ice. After going 45 games without a goal last season, McIlrath scored for the second consecutive game with a nice wrist shot from the point. Because McIlrath has been cast as a physical defenseman his capability of potting a few goals often gets overlooked. McIlrath did show off his main assets, though, throwing a few punishing hits as well as dropping the gloves twice. Granted, it's against weaker competition, but McIlrath seems to have learned from his pre-season wake up call. He's positioning himself well enough to not get beat on the wing and is making much more confident and intelligent decisions. He earned the Third Star with his performance.
It's nice that the Wolfpack are winning, but it's especially important that they're earning these victories largely through the performance of the prospects. Conor Allen got his first professional point with Miller deflecting his shot in for the goal. Along with many good shifts defensively, Oscar Lindberg quietly made some nice passes and earned two assists. Even Michael Kantor is serving his purpose and putting together some really nice shifts on the forecheck.
Video of last night's shootout…
Keep reading to see how some other Rangers prospects around the world did.
After staying relatively quiet for a couple of games Anthony Duclair is back at it. On Wednesday, Duclair was named First Star with two powerplay goals and a primary assist. Last night he was named First Star again, scoring this shorthanded beauty in Quebec's 3-0 win.
Duclair now has 8 goals and 12 points through 9 games.
Adam Tambellini, another 2013 3rd round pick, is a freshman at the University of North Dakota and scored a pretty nice goal in the first game of the season. North Dakota beat Vermont 5-3.
And to complete the hat-trick, the last 2013 3rd round pick, Pavel Buchnevich, scored a goal in nearly 18 minutes of icetime in Severstal's 5-4 shootout win over Admiral Vladisvostok.
Ryan Graves was +1 in Charlottetown's 3-2 loss to Cape Breton.
Troy Donnay was +1 and had 9 penalty minutes in Eerie's 4-0 win over Kitchener.
Sophomore center Steve Fogarty started for Notre Dame in their 4-0 win over Western Michigan and went 4/9 in the faceoff circle .
Sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei was +2 with 2 shots and a holding penalty in Minnesota's 6-0 win over Mercyhurst.
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