Though no official announcement has been made by the Rangers yet, according to multiple sources the Rangers have signed free agent goaltending prospect Jason Missiaen to a 3 year Entry-Level Contract. Missiaen was a 4th round selection by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2008 draft, but Montreal released his rights. The 20 year old Missiaen is absolutely huge at 6 foot 8 with 220 pounds on his frame, so I’d assume a goalie like Anders Lindback of Nashville is a good comparison stylistically. He claims that multiple teams showed interest in him but that the Rangers were the most eager to sign him. As always with free agent prospect signings, it’s a shot in the dark by the Rangers. But the Rangers scouts have certainly done well in finding quality prospects beyond those that are well known. The Rangers also have one of the most highly regarded goalie coaches in Benoit Allaire, so he’s likely seen video on him and believes he might be able to turn him into something. His stats in the QMJHL aren’t very impressive, but it’s a very offensive-minded league and he plays for a team that is in rebuilding stages. What does this signing say about the rest of the organization, however?
Adding Missiaen means that there is one less goalie spot available in Hartford. Cameron Talbot has two years left on his contract and has been solid enough in the minors this year, so he’s doubtful to be sent packing. Chad Johnson has been pretty inconsistent with Connecticut this year and is an RFA at the end of the season. Will he be the odd man out? It’s a possibility, but I don’t see that happening. The Rangers gave up a 5th round pick to get him, and he’s shown plenty of potential, specifically at the NHL level. I would think they’d like to give him at least one more year to see if he can get it together. Scott Stajcer, a former 5th round pick, is the only other goaltending prospect in the Rangers’ system. After starting out the season on fire, he injured his hip and has been out for most of the season. Stajcer won’t be returning until later this month at the earliest, and his rights expire at the end of the year, meaning the Rangers have to sign him if they want to exclusively own him. He was on the bubble to begin the season, and this injury most likely will deter the Rangers from signing him. If nothing else, I think the Missiaen signing signals that Stajcer won’t be a Ranger ever.
In other prospect news, Jesper Fasth is debuting for the Swedish National Team (use google translate) in multiple qualifying matches as they get ready for the World Championships. It’s not as prolific as the Olympics, but it’s still a pretty significant milestone for a 19 year old. You can see the rosters from last year’s World Championships here, and there are some pretty big names there, including the Rangers’ Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal for Canada as well as Brandon Dubinsky and Matt Gilroy for the United States. Fasth wasn’t even on the radar at the beginning of the year, I’d assume.
And finally, let’s watch TSN call Missiaen “this era’s Ken Dryden.” Yeah, good luck with that.