Chris Rutsch / CT Whale
Kyle Jean, an un-drafted free agent, is already making a big name for himself with the Rangers.
So that Kyle Jean kid, he's pretty good, no?
Jean, who happens to be the New York Rangers' most recent un-drafted free agent brought in by general manager Glen Sather. Sather happens to have a history with un-drafted free agents, a very rich history, in fact.
The biggest prize of Sather's tenure in this department with the Rangers is Dan Girardi, a player once passed over by every NHL team (Rangers included) seven times before Sather snatched him up after the draft. Girardi has blossomed into one of the Rangers' best defenseman and has been at the core of the Rangers defensive corps for the past few years.
Other players in this category currently with the team are Marek Hirvik and Kyle Jean. Jean was so impressive in prospects camp this summer that he earned a professional contract, and since then he's never looked back.
In just five games with the Connecticut Whale he has four goals and three assists for seven points. That's good to place him third among all scorers in the AHL (there are 17 players tied with either nine, eight or seven points, however) and when it comes to rookies in the AHL, only Edmonton's Justin Schultz (remember him) has more points.
Obviously this has many Rangers fans lathered up about what he can potentially be. And, to be fair, you should be excited about what he's brought to the table thus far. Especially since the AHL's talent level is ramped up thanks to the lockout. But also remember that it's an extremely small sample size, and one of the hardest skills in professional sports is staying consistent.
To this point, though, Jean has been one of the Whale's most dangerous players. He always seems to be in the right areas at the right time (he scored one goal this year on a penalty shot which he drew) which is something you can't teach. He also doesn't seem to be feeling any extra pressure from this shining opportunity, as can be seen from his hot start.
I will caution those who think he's NHL-ready right now. Fact of the matter is, the Rangers have two other prospects on the team who are more NHL-ready, simply due to their skills in other areas of the ice. Chris Kreider is obviously one of those players. As is J.T. Miller.
Miller, who scored a highlight reel goal against the Albany Devils on Wednesday, might not has as many points (although he does have five points in as many games) but he's one of the most well-rounded prospects the Rangers have in their system. Miller was drafted because of his ability to do it all, and he showed off those skills (and his offense) at the OHL level last year. This year? It's been more of the same from the Rangers' first-round pick, and it's impressive to see him make another big jump this year in the professional ranks.
But back to Jean. The Rangers are probably thrilled that he's been so successful, although they probably want to see him remain consistant throughout the year. And while the Rangers might have a few guys in front of him that would get the call if they needed some bodies, Jean isn't far behind.