Scoring two goals in a game is the mark of a good performance for any forward. For a defenseman, it really stands out.
And for a defensive defenseman? I don't know what it is, but it's something I'm sure that New York Rangers' 2013 4th-round pick Ryan Graves will remember for a while. Graves' value as a prospect is mostly built into his ability to be a shutdown defenseman. Last night, however, he led the way for the Quebec Remparts offensively as tallied two goals and a secondary assist on his way to earning the First Star in Quebec's 5-1 win over the Gatineau Olympiques. Here are the two goals.
Power play Goal to Make It 2-1
Gatineau's goaltender, Brandon Whitney, definitely cheated too far to his right. Credit to Graves for noticing, though, and picking the open corner at the far post.
Second Goal to Make It 3-1
Again, that's one Whitney probably didn't properly deal with, but that's partially because Graves put a very hard shot on net. The rush up ice to even get into a position to shoot was sublime.
Graves now has three goals and five assists in 11 games for the Remparts since returning from shoulder surgery. He's dealt with a bit of rust during that time period, making a few uncharacteristic mistakes with the puck on his stick. However, none of that is a long-term concern. All-in-all, it's about as quality of a start to the season as the Rangers' scouting staff could have realistically hoped for given the circumstances.
The goals are nice. I think the takeaway is bigger than the tallies on the box score, however. Graves was drafted for his size and snarl, and one of the stereotypes he thus gets tagged with is the inference that he's therefore a clumsy, awkward defenseman who doesn't belong in the modern NHL. We'll see how far he makes it, but the stereotype is completely false. Clearly he's not going to be an offensive defenseman at the pro level by any means, and that end-to-end rush was a rarity for him even in juniors. However, you can see that he has a smooth skating stride. He makes good decisions with the puck and can unleash bombs from the point; and not just the kind where a defenseman closes his eyes and hopes for the best. There's a reason the Rangers signed Graves to an entry-level contract last year despite being under no pressure to do so. He's done nothing yet in his second post-draft year to cause any buyer's remorse.
Keep reading for some other updates.
Adam Tambellini, drafted by the Rangers in the third round of the 2013 Draft, scored a goal and added two assists in Calgary's 9-5 win over Red Deer on Tuesday. Here's the goal. You'll notice Tambellini, wearing 19, making the initial pass out of the defensive zone to Chase Lang, who does a lot of work to get Tambellini the puck in the slot.
The three-point night was business as usual for Tambellini, who now has 15 goals and 16 assists in 28 games.
Tyler Nanne, a defenseman selected in the fifth-round this past summer, struggled in 14 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, tallying only one goals and two assists in 13 games. Needing a change of scenery, he was traded to the Madison Capitols, and the move is paying early dividends. Nanne had a one-goal, one-assist performance in Madison's 6-5 overtime loss to the Dubuque Fighting Saints last Friday, and has two goals and an assist through four games.
The Wolf Pack last played on Saturday and don't hit the ice again until tomorrow. They've been off a while. In the mean time, here's an updated chart of how Mackenzie Skapski is performing compared to other notable 20-year-old goaltenders in North America.
A bit more of a sample size all-around to go off of. One of the reasons I think that Skapski is transitioning so well to the AHL is that he was absolutely pummeled with shots in both quantity and quality last season while backstopping a Kootenay Ice team in the WHL that was absolutely putrid defensively.
A source in the organization informed me that the Rangers have been satisfied with what they've seen from Skapski and that the current plan is to keep him in Hartford for the foreseeable future. That plan could certainly change if he were to have a poor four weeks, give or take, but the point is that his time in the AHL is no longer contingent on game-by-game performance.
Because this has not been a particularly active past few days for Rangers' prospects, here's a goal from a few weeks back scored by 2014 fifth-round pick Richard Nejezchleb, who is currently playing for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.
Nejezchleb, who is 20 and playing an overage season, is racking up the points like you'd expect him to; 15 points in 11 games. He's incredibly talented offensively and is an exciting prospect to watch.
Finally, Troy Donnay, an undrafted defenseman for the Erie Otters whom the Rangers signed last year, has been out the last couple weeks with a foot injury. Fortunately, Otters' reporter Victor Fernandes claims he's heard nothing to suggest that it's a serious injury and that he has not seen Donnay aided by crutches or a boot. Presumably, he's dealing with some sort of heavy bruising or something similar. No long-term concerns until told otherwise.