The New York Rangers have officially signed prospect Carl Hagelin to a professional contract. Hagelin just finished up his senior season with Michigan University, and he is too old for junior hockey. He didn’t have any choice but to turn pro. However, that doesn’t mean that the Rangers were always guaranteed to sign him. The McIlrath signing was more of a formality thing, and while Bourque a solid prospect, only a Chris Kreider signing would trump this signing as the most significant prospect signing for this year. Carl Hagelin is comparable to Freddie Sjostrom and Ryan Callahan, and is similar to Derek Stepan in that he has that “It” factor, “It” being the attitude required to come out of college and succeed professionally immediately. Hagelin averaged over a point per game in back-to-back seasons with Michigan and was their captain this year. A lot will depend on how many wing spots are available for the taking next season, but Hagelin is certainly a candidate to make the jump that Stepan did from college hockey straight to the NHL. He projects as a key bottom 6 forward, but then again, that’s the similar projection we had for Callahan, who has surpassed that level immensely. Much like Callahan, or other guys like Ryan Kesler and Joe Pavelski, Hagelin’s full product is more greater than what the sum of his parts add up to, and because of that there’s no clear-cut ceiling for him.
We had a few days to just soak in the accomplishment that was making the playoffs, but now it’s time to start focusing on Washington. The Rangers got on the ice today for their first practice since the game against New Jersey. Dan Girardi apparently got slammed into the boards and was slow to get up, but he apparently is fine. Losing him for this series would be fatal, so it’s very good news that he isn’t hurt. Here is our schedule for the first round:
(courtesy of rangers.nhl.com)
All games broadcasted on Versus will be also broadcasted by MSG.
Finally, rumors were rampant prior, but the NHL formally announced that the Rangers will be starting next season in Stockholm, Sweden. The Sabres, Ducks, and Kings will be joining the Rangers in Europe. The Rangers will face the Kings for the season opener and then the Ducks the following day. You have to figure that it will essentially be two home-like game for the Rangers. Lundqvist is a fan favorite and a national hero, and the Rangers fanbase in Europe is huge to begin with. Zuccarello, if he makes the team, was a fan-favorite during his two years playing for Modo of the SEL, and like I said earlier, don’t count out Swedish born Carl Hagelin.