The only thing that saves me from smashing my head with a cinder block as the summer fades away is the coinciding emergence of hockey season. The NHL is still in hibernation mode, but other leagues are starting to kick things into gear. As such, there is some prospect news.
The biggest news is that New York Rangers’ 2013 fourth-round pick Ryan Graves was traded from the Val-d’Or Foreurs to the Quebec Remparts yesterday. Graves, 19, won the Presidents Cup with Val-d’Or after being traded to them at the QMJHL’s trading deadline last season.
This move is interesting and perhaps even exciting for a few reasons. The most obvious one is that he will now be teammates with Anthony Duclair. The Rangers’ organizational philosophy in regards to prospects is to have them get to know each other and build camaraderie before they even reach the Rangers professionally. Duclair and Graves being teammates certainly will play right into that.
That especially holds true if they are on the ice together, which seems likely. Duclair is a virtual lock to play on the first line, and Graves, who is now Quebec’s best defenseman, should be on the team’s first-pairing alongside the offensive-minded Cody Donaghey. While Graves would have still played quality minutes for Val-d’Or, he should be a moderately more prominent figure for Quebec.
And finally, Quebec will be hosting the CHL’s Memorial Cup this year, meaning that they will participate in the highly regarded tournament. Another Rangers’ philosophy is an eagerness to see how prospects handle high-pressure competition. This is going to be a really good opportunity for Graves to emerge as a leader in meaningful games on a team with no other defensemen above the age of 17 or drafted into the NHL.
On the topic of Duclair, he scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 win during Quebec’s pre-season game against Rimouski Oceanic on Saturday. Two goals came on the power play while one was shorthanded. It’s important to note that QMJHL teams have a number of players on tryouts right now and therefore lineups for pre-season games are heavily watered down. It still doesn’t hurt Duclair to continue to have an immediate impact after hitting the ice for the first time since a concussion that ended his 2013-2014 season.
Igor Shesterkin also put in some quality work during SKA Petersburg’s pre-season 3-1 win against Dinamo Riga yesterday. The only goal Shesterkin “let in” was an own-goal while Shesterkin was on the bench for an extra attacker during a delayed penalty. SKA head coach Vyacheslav Vykov was brief but happy with how Shesterkin played.
Daniel Walcott, a defenseman drafted in the fifth round by the Rangers this past summer, was named the captain of the Blainville-Broisbrand Armada for the upcoming season. Walcott, in only his second year with the team, will be an overage player. His story is pretty amazing.
Finally, here are links to an interview with Rangers’ 2013 third-round pick Adam Tambellini as well as Greg Chase, his friend and teammate with the Calgary Hitmen. Among other things, Tambellini confirmed that he’s been working hard to bulk up and that his immediate future – he is eligible to sign with the Rangers and go pro or to return to the Hitmen as an overager – is still undecided.