It's hard to believe, but we're in the middle of December, meaning that the World Junior Championships are not far off and we're just shy of halfway through the season as far as lower leagues are concerned. It's a good point to evaluate the progress of some Rangers prospects, and who better to do that than the team's Director of Player Personnel, Gordie Clark? In his position, Clark manages scouts and prospects and ultimately makes decisions on the draft, how to handle prospects, and who should be kept.
Clark spoke with Shane Malloy and Russ Cohen of the NHL Network Radio's Hockey Prospect Show and gave incite into the progress of some prospects in the system, including Dylan McIlrath. Keep reading to see some of Clark's more notable statements, but I highyl suggest you listen to the entire interview on their website. It's very informative and provides a good look into what kinds of things Clark looks for and how he views development from a philosophical standpoint.
On his pre-season struggles:
"He threw the puck away a couple of times in that Philly game but it's pre-season and the only way you learn to get used to that pace is to play.
On development in AHL since:
"He's got that timing now. It's how you learn. It takes some time. Every time he's gone to that next level it takes him a little time and then it kicks in and he gets used to the pace."
On developing into a defensive defenseman:
"Dylan was on the powerplay in Moose Jaw (WHL) and he's not going to be on the powerplay in the pros. His job is going to be… simple game, defensive, and physical… I probably put pressure on him by drafting him 10th and he went back to junior thinking he had to rush the puck up… but that's not what we drafted him for. I think Jeff Beukeboom has shown him what his role is going to be in the NHL…that's what he's working on now. He can get the puck off anybody. He's got the mobility and he sees the play coming. It's moving the puck with all the NHL speed coming at you… that's the biggest thing he's tackling right now."
On his best assets and what will allow him to succeed at the pro level:
"With that speed that he has and that mobility and strength… that showed me right there that he's not going to have any problem when his time is ready."
On drafting Skjei:
"When you're picking at 28th (overall)… yeah I'd love to have an offensive powerplay guy but if it isn't there you can't do it. At that stage I'm looking at who is the best prospect…can he play in the top-4 defense or top-6 forwards… and for me and my staff that was Brady… He's going to be a shutdown guy."
On his big frame and learning to becoming a more physical defenseman:
"(Ryan) McDonagh wasn't really a physical guy at Wisconsin and on the U.S. team. He was just an unbelievable horse physically, his skating was natural… he's learned how to (be physical) now in the pros… Brady's there to. He may not be the meanest guy out there but when you watch him… he can throw guys down."
On what he brings to the table:
"We're still looking for a powerplay defenseman for the Rangers… that's what we think he can do. He does have to pick up his pace but we think that will come with maturity… he finds people all over the ice… he stepped on the ice and he dazzled us the whole summer camp.
On looking for offensive defensemen in the fourth round:
"I think a lot of guys saw the hands and the head but they were worried about skating… he's not real intense. But you look at guys like Zidlicky and Larsson in New Jersey and that's just the way (many European offensive defensemen) are. They're brought up that way and they will adapt to the pace and intensity. His hands and his sense… you just can't teach those things. He's got those.
On his need to bulk up:
"We loved where he was going (University of North Dakota)… sometimes they're going to a school or a junior team that hasn't been good… so we were lucky there. It was projection. He had grown. He's tall and lanky… he's one of those kids where you talk should he go to junior or college… he's going to need the time in college to put the beef on and work."
On injury problems:
"He's similar to Calle Andersson… we knew he was playing with a real sore hip. He came into our camp and he tried to go out… we literally had to take him off the ice and we had to shut him down all summer… so he's behind and that's okay. If he had kept going on it, it would have gotten worse and maybe never healed… he's just going there now and feeling his way around the league."
On long development:
"Hagelin was a four-year guy… some guys you say, "they're going to be 2's, some guys are going to be 3's." Hagelin just went back and put a little bit of muscle on each time. He was always fast… now he's one of the elite athletes… he was at Michigan and now on our team… but it took four years."
"For some reason we think they can play right out of junior or two years out of college. I think we saw with Kadri and Seguin… they're young and maybe even immature… Yakupov… we expect them to be NHL guys (right away)."
Again, this is only some of what Clark said and I highly suggest you give the entire interview a listen.
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