Editor's Note by Joe Fortunato: This story was supposed to run yesterday, but with the tragedy I felt we should hold off on posting it until today. That's why there is a strange posting pattern below.
With the Traverse City Tournament coming on Saturday, I figured I would preview the top-10 prospects competing in the tournament for the New York Rangers. We'll run 10-7 today, 6-4 at 1 p.m. today and 3-1 on Friday. Hope you enjoy the segment guys.
Note: This is not necessarily a list of players to watch because they're going to be making the team this year, nor is this a list of who's going to do well during the games. But with 22 of some of the Rangers top prospects (despite a few omissions) the point of this post is just to give you a few players to watch closely during the tournament, and why.
Number 10: Scott Stajcer — The Rangers fifth-round selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft hasn't been talked about too much within Rangers circles. That might be because the day Stajcer was drafted the Rangers made a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins for goaltending prospect Chad Johnson who ended up seeing some time with the big club and impressing more than a few people within the organization. So, for the most part, Stajcer found himself on the back burner.
The OHL goaltender only played in 14 games last year due to injuries. But in those 14 games he went 10-3, posting a 2.97 GAA (career-high) and a .901 save percentage. Although it's a small sample size, those aren't numbers to scoff at in a high-scoring league. Traverse City marks another opportunity for the goaltender to make some strides and force himself into the goaltending situation when it comes to the Rangers' farm system.
Join me after the jump for 9-7!
Number 9: Andrew Yogan — Another OHL player riddled with injuries, Yogan only played in 10 regular season games last year (compiling three goals and an assist) and three playoff games (two assists) before getting a quick stint in Connecticut. With the Whale, Yogan notched two goals and an assist in two games.
Yogan is one of the prospects that impressed Gordie Clark, Director of Player Personnel for the New York Rangers, thanks to his late-season surge.
"Andrew game into the development camp in the best shape he has been in," Clark said. "He played in his draft year with a shoulder that should have been operated on. We knew about it when we drafted him, and we knew it wasn't anything that couldn't be fixed and we did fix it. And as a result, he almost missed a whole year of hockey last year. The thing for him is, now that the shoulder is fixed, he's had a nice development camp, he's just been traded [in the OHL]; is just to play a full year and stay healthy. The puck just seems to follow him, he came right into Hartford and played in two games and scored two games. He's got the size and he's got the ability and now he's in the best shape of his life; and I'm really looking forward to see him in Traverse City."
Number 8: Ryan Bourque — The Rangers' third-round selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Bourque is a player who has grown in his two years within the farm system. Last year Bourque scored 26 goals and added 33 assists for 59 points in 49 QMJHL regular season games last year (all career-highs). He also added five goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 18 playoff games (also career-highs).
Although the QMJHL is known for being an incredibly high-scoring league, Bourque still had a pretty good year. The young-forward even told the Rangers who he emulates his game around: "If I could be player like (Callahan) then I think I'd be really happy with myself."
Only time will tell if Bourque can accomplish his goal, Traverse City will be our first chance to watch him try and do it.
Number 7: Shane McColgan — The Rangers' brass was ecstatic that the young forward fell to them in the fifth round of this year's NHL Entry Draft, and snatched him up as soon as they were on the clock. It's not often that a point-per-game player in the WHL for two years running falls in the fifth round, but McColgan did, and the Rangers benefited.
Last year, in the WHL, McColgan totaled 21 goals and 45 assists for 66 points in 67 games for the Kelowna Rockets. If that wasn't enough to get you excited about him, then maybe his 19 points (eight goals) in 10 playoff games will. There were a couple of "if he can put his game together then he will be a special player" guys drafted by the Rangers this year, and McColgan is one of them.
Traverse City will be our first chance to see just what he can bring to the table.