It's time to unveil the top-three New York Rangers prospects you should be watching this year at the Traverse City Tournament, which begins tomorrow.
Anyway, let's get back to the rankings.
Number 3: Dylan McIlrath — Rangers fans haven't had any real chances to take a look at the team's 10th overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but Traverse City should change that. We've already gone over what type of competition Traverse City provides (a good one) and that we'll be keeping our eyes on certain players to see how they step up with the increased level of play.
Now we'll get an opportunity to see the overall game McIlrath brings to the table. While he isn't going to make the team this year many fans have been questioning his game, questions which should get some answers during the tournament, although it's a small sample size to make any conclusive assessments.
Still, we'll get an opportunity to see him strut his game, which is something to get excited about.
Join me after the jump for the final two!
Number 2: Christian Thomas — We have been drooling over Thomas for about a year now, and for good reason. You don't score a total of 63 goals in 76 games at the OHL level and not open eyes. As if that wasn't enough, Thomas went on to have a fantastic camp with the Team Canada Development team, a performance he hopes leads to a roster spot on Canada's World Junior team.
You've heard about the quality of his shot, you have heard scouts talk about his very underrated vision. Traverse City is an opportunity to finally see all that first hand. (I feel like I sound like a broken record.) The fact still remains that Thomas is one of the Rangers' brightest stars in the system right now, and although it's a long shot for him to make the team out of camp, he will likely be a major threat next year.
Number 1: Tim Erixon — One of the biggest moves Glen Sather made this offseason, Erixon figures to be one of the only prospects who has a true shot at making this year's team out of camp. That's why he beats out Thomas for the top player to keep an eye on during the tournament.
We've heard about his NHL IQ, and his ability to both quarterback the power play and shut down the game in his defense zone; now we can see it. While Traverse City might be a step up for nearly every prospect involved, it's likely a step down for Erixon.
After playing 20 minutes a night in the SEL with men, I think this tournament will be a good challenge for the young defenseman, but it will also be a chance to really shine. Erixon is expected to make the team out of camp this year, a great Traverse City showing will go a long way in making that happen.
Hockey is right around the corner. Thoughts guys!