GM Sean McAndrews put his young Ranger hopefuls through their paces at Prospect Camp prior to the start of the BEARD Hockey preseason.
The Rangers have finished their first ever Prospect Camp under the BEARD regime. It was a very exciting camp as it was GM Sean McAndrews’ first chance to see his young players and prospects from his protected list and the most recently completed Entry Draft.
Here is a look at some of the players that impressed and can be expected to make the Hartford Wolf Pack roster.
Alexander Holtz (RW), 67 OV:
Holtz was thoroughly impressive in rookie camp. He showed off his lethal shot repeatedly which is rumoured to be NHL-ready soon (69 scoring) and his underrated vision (67 passing). Like all young players his defensive prowess and skating have lower than expected ratings but his 94 potential is likely to see quick progress across all categories.
Holtz could be a one-year AHL player but look for him to make a significant contribution for the Wolf Pack this year.
Dawson Mercer (C), 65 OV:
Similar to Holtz, Mercer has good offensive ratings with a 66 passing and 66 scoring ratings while secondary ratings of endurance, strength, and skating (only in the sim – in real life he can fly) remain low.
Mercer also has a very good potential rating at 89 meaning he will likely progress well if the Rangers do a good job of developing him.
Jakob Pelletier (LW), 65 OV:
Pelletier has a 69 passing rating which highlights his excellent vision and a 66 scoring rating indicating he has the offensive prowess to excel. He has the lowest potential rating at 84 out of these first 3 forwards, but given his decent overall rating he is being expected to be given good developmental minutes.
Mavrik Bourque (C), 63 OV:
Bourque, who will be suiting up for the Wolf Pack this season, has the lowest overall rating of this forward group - but has a high potential rating of 89 and high passing and scoring ratings of 67 and 65 respectively. His skating has a relatively low rating at 71, so how quickly it progresses will be key to his development.
Philip Broberg (D), 66 OV:
Broberg is an extremely smooth skating, do-it-all defenseman who will likely improve in all aspects of the game if he is developed well by the Rangers. His checking and skating are his best attributes now at 70 and 72 respectively, but he is expected to be very steady defensively with a simple but effective offensive game. His 93 potential rating could see him progress quickly.
Tobias Bjornfot (D), 64 OV:
Acquired in the same deal as Broberg, Bjornfot is a little smaller and less well-rounded, but also boasts a good skating rating at 72 (for a young player) and is expected to be more flashy offensively but with an understated defensive game (opposite of Broberg). With an 88 potential rating don’t be surprised if he is not far behind Broberg as the duo ascends the organizational rankings.
Connor Ingram (G), 68 OV:
Ingram is expected to get the nod as the #1 goalie for the Wolf Pack heading into the season. He is expected to see a lot of rubber as the backstop for a very young AHL squad. His skill ratings are very solid, but his overall is dragged down by low experience, durability, and stamina ratings (expected for a young goalie) and an unusually low penalty shot rating.
Still, with an 88 potential, he is clearly the heir apparent to Semyon Varlamov and will be given every opportunity to develop.
Although not rookies, the team wanted to give some ice time to Filip Zadina and Adam Boqvist to see how the new young guns stacked up against some of the premium young talent at the NHL level. Not surprisingly, Zadina and Boqvist were a notch above the group discussed above.
Zadina in particular had a more mature offensive game with his 77 scoring on display repeatedly. But Holtz showed glimpses of having perhaps an even more lethal shot than Zadina - although perhaps with a touch less vision.
Mercer has the look of a 200-foot offensively gifted center that one day could certainly supplement McDavid and Hischer down the middle. Pelletier is going to play in the NHL as he has big compete/pest capability. His offense will determine how high in the lineup he plays. Bourque might need more development time, but his offensive IQ is off the charts and the organization is very high on him.
On the back end, Broberg is the most likely to be a #1 pairing guy – even compared to Boqvist. His complete game and elite skating was on display often. Bjornfot profiles much closer to Boqvist as an offensive minded, second pairing D-man. The fact that Sergachev (91), Hronek (81), and Boqvist (93) all have excellent potential ratings bodes well for the future of the defensive corps.
Looking back at the AHL roster, the trio of Pelletier/Mercer/Holtz is expected to be tried out on the first line to give them maximum development opportunities. Bourque is expected to be tried out high in the lineup as well but if he needs more sheltered minutes look for him to end up on the 4th line but given PP time.
Broberg is going to be featured in the top paring with Sebastien Aho, while Bjornfot will start on the second pairing but could also be dropped to the third paring - but with PP time if needed.
The Roster, 5 Years Out
These projections almost never pan out due to trades, free agency, unexpected development blips, and new talent drafted that surpasses existing talent. But it is still a fun exercise to look at.
Let’s have a look at what the lineup could look like 5 years from now.
Before we pencil in the actual roster, let’s make some assumptions as to who won’t be on the Rangers squad 5 years from now.
Andrew Cogliano and Artem Anisimov are 33 and 32, respectively, and are unlikely to beat father time up front. Marcus Foligno at 29 is a long shot at 34 given his less than stellar skating. Chris Stewart probably shouldn’t be in the league now.
Although also 29, Chris Kreider and Jakub Silfverberg are high-end skaters and have elite skill. We are going to assume they are still around at 34, although in a lesser capacity.
On the back end, Erik Johnson at 32 will not play to 37 and Brendan Dillon’s skating ability at 29 also is in doubt to see him around.
At 32, Semyon Varlamov has a good chance to still be playing as he doesn’t have that many hard miles in the crease. But it is unlikely to be as a starter.
So with that said, here is the projected line up 5 years from now (LW/C/RW)
Line 1: Zadina / McDavid / Holtz
Line 2: Kreider / Hischer / Silfverberg
Line 3: Drouin / Mercer / Bourque
Line 4: Pelletier / Anisismov / Hinstroza
Chris Kreider could unseat one of Zadina or Holtz on the top line if he can fight off father time. Also, Hischer could potentially move to the wing if Mercer appears to be a better 200-foot pivot. Bourque is slotted in as a winger as he is expected to be weened into the NHL roster carefully. Pelletier on the 4th line works due to his ability to play up and down the lineup but he could easily feature further up if a spot opens up.
We’ve assumed Anisimov and Hinstroza are still with the organization but they very well could be moved out. It will be nice to see McDavid in his “prime” at 28 in five years hence.
D paring 1: Sergachev / Broberg
D pairing 2: Hronek / Boqvist
D pairing 3: Dunn / Bjornfot
The top pairing is about as balanced as can be as both players are extremely gifted, three-zone D-men. However, the bottom 4 has all offensively minded D-men.
Dunn and Hronek have the best chance of becoming complete players, so they are split for this exercise to provide an anchor for Boqvist and Bjornfot. Tonnes of talent here, but not much grit which could be an issue, especially come playoff time.
Starting Goalie: Connor Ingram
Backup: Semyon Varlamov
If Ingram doesn’t develop into a bonafide starter, then expect a move to be made to find a starter as Varlamov is unlikely to be starting quality at age 37. Dustin Wolf could factor in here as well.
Overall, the future certainly is bright for the Rangers as they have a lot of youth at the NHL level and in the pipelines. They also currently own two firsts in next season’s Entry Draft, so it is likely they continue to add to their prospect assembly line.