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03-17-2007, 07:05 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Mahopac, NY
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Exceedingly happy with all our young players. The only negative: are any of them first line offensive players, potential top echelon players? That's the biggest weakness in the organization. Perhaps Ranger management is planning to build a solid base of 2nd and 3rd line in-house players and supplement them with top tier free agent signings. With the lowering of the age to become a UFA in a few years some amazing talent will be available. Can't you just picture all three Staals here?
On D, Staal and Tyutin are first pair defensemen so I feel much better as to our future there.
In goal: Henrik is already an elite goalie, the teams MVP this year. That brings up the often discussed question of what to do with our other possibly elite goalie, Montoya. My thought: get him some NHL experience and exposure next year as backup and then consider trading him at the deadline for young (not old) offensive talent. He's the biggest chip we have.

Dubinsky: playing exactly the way he played in training camp and when I saw him play for the Pack.What I like about him is when he is on the ice, things happen. The game seems to revolve around him. He is NHL ready now. Except for sending him back for the AHL playoffs, he shouldn't play another minute of minor league hockey. Not quite sure what his ceilling is yet: 2nd line all around center? 3rd line center with the skillset to dominate other 3rd line centers? How does his development change our UFA thinking for this summer and our oft expressed concern about the need for a 2nd line center. Next year: Nylander (if we resign him), Cullen, Dubinsky, Betts at #4. Do we still make a run at Briere, Drury, Gomez, etc?

Callahan: played well against Atlanta. Still need to see a bit more to be convinced that his skills translate to the NHL level. I'm always suspicious of AHL offensive stats; look at Helminen's 30 goal season last year, look at Jason Krog's AHL stats this year. Liked what I saw from Callahan and hope he gets a real shot the rest of the year.

Pock: well, I've expressed my thoughts on the original thread. He's developed into an NHL caliber D and should be resigned. Next step: having confidence in his defensive ability and having won the coaches confidence, he begins to show his offensive skill. Not a top pair or even a 2nd pair D, but a guy we need on the 3rd pair or for depth.

Girardi: amazing how a guy isn't drafted but develops into an NHL D. The learning curve for young D is long, but his inate hockey sense and intelligence will cut down on the time needed for him to establish himself. All young Ds eventually hit rough patches and it will be interesting to see what happens when he has his. Will he loose confidence and retrogress? Will he learn from his mistakes? You have to feel good about the possibility of Girarde establishing himself as a 3rd pair D and a valueable contributor over the next few years. I am concerned about the ability of forward to turn him and go wide around him.

Lost in the ozone: Dawes. He's perhaps the only one with first line offensive skills. This year has hurt his development and he has gone backwards. I put the blame largely on Ranger management. The fact that he went down to Hartford and seemed to sulk for a bit, though a normal reaction, does send up a red flag as to his personality. I do think he has more offensive upside than Callahan.

A thought about Prucha. I had my doubts about him even after last year and he was blatantly misused earlier this year. I have no doubts now. The guy is a valueable piece of the puzzle and though his stats say that he hasn't had the year he had last year, I'm happy with his development.

A note about past players mentioned here: I've always felt the players like Goneau and Dube could have been NHL players if handled correctly. There were points in their development when they were ready to be plugged in to full time roles and weren't. In many ways, their careers spiralled downward from there and they ended up in Europe or the UHL. The record indicates that the Rangers, through the late 90s and early 2000s never nutured young players. And young players need to be nutured. Others who come to mind: Malhotra, Lundmark, Brendl. Each had flaws that have hurt them and they have never developed into what was hoped (so perhaps the fault was theirs and not Ranger management and coaching) but I just can't help thinking that history could have been different.

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