According to the tweets of Larry Brooks, the New York Rangers plan on bringing 31 players to Europe after next Monday's preseason tilt against Philadelphia. According to Brooks, the Rangers will bring six lines, five defensive pairings and three goaltenders.
For the prospects trying to make the team, it's crucial they preform well this next week. Because the Rangers are heading to Europe, the showcase time is reduced pretty drastically. A few of the prospects looked good yesterday, remember they were going up against most of the New Jersey Devils' starters this year, but it's going to take more than just "looking good" to make it to Europe.
It was a mixed bad for the Rangers' prospects last night, so join me after the jump while we sort things out.
- Michael Del Zotto: I have been one of this kid's biggest supporters since he has been drafted. For the first time, my confidence in his re-ability to find his rookie game is beginning to waiver. Del Zotto did not look good against the Devils last night, plain and simple. While that wouldn't be the biggest deal for a prospect, for Del Zotto, it's worrisome. Now, it's only the first preseason game, so no need to panic, but Del Zotto needs to find his stuff and he needs to do it soon.
- Tim Erixon: There were probably some first game jitters for Erixon last night, but if there were any butterflies they left the building quickly. Erixon made sharp decisions with the puck when he had it, used his stick very well in his own zone and from the first period on looked solid. I still believe Erixon is a lock to make this team out of camp, and I truly can't see him not making the trip to Europe, so performances like this are always good to see.
- Dylan McIlrath: The Undertaker also impressed in his first preseason game this year, although he got off to a slow start as well. But from the second period on I really thought McIlrath utilized his size, was tough in the corners and provided solid defense. McIlrath is one of the up-and-comers in this farm system, so it's nice to see him start off on the right foot.
- J.T. Miller: I was a little surprised how well Miller fought through a rough second period to finish strong. In the third period, he was one of the few Rangers' forwards attacking the net with any consistency. The more I watch this kid, the more I like his game. He works hard, is tough in the corners and has offensive upside. He might be something special in the future.
- Carl Hagelin and Christian Thomas: I'm bunching the two prospects together since the reviews will be similar. Essentially, both had flashes where they showed their potential, but there were also instances where they looked like prospects. Thomas didn't shoot enough, but I still thought he was dangerous around the net and made a few good passes. Hagelin looked like there were a few moments when he was going to use his speed to break away from a defender, only to pull back. Some of it (for both of them) might just be trying to be safe and not make mistakes, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but the organization needs to see more if both want to make it to Europe.
- Erik Christensen: Apparently he told the media he was aware he is fighting for a spot on this team. Well he didn't play like he knew that last night. Christensen didn't do anything wrong per se, but he was invisible almost all night. For a guy that's spot on the roster is in serious jeopardy, he needs to figure his game out now.
- Sean Avery: Another player who's spot not guaranteed, Avery played well last night. John Tortorella said after the game that his line (paired with John Mitchell and J.T. Miller) was the best on the ice last night. Avery is fighting for a spot on this team, and he's playing like he knows it.
- Dale Weise: Weise had a good game last night. Got into a scrap, scored the game tying goal an was effective on both ends of the ice. I'm glad to see Weise do well, especially since he has that "do anything to win" attitude, but I simply don't see him making this team. I think Avery is a better option than Weise is at this point, and honestly, I'd probably rather see Mats Zuccarello on the team before Weise as well. But, at the end of the day, Weise plays a good hockey game, and anything can happen.