Yesterday in Part One of our Traverse City preview we highlighted five players that will be expected to perform in Michigan over the course of the next five days (10th-14th); Christian Thomas, Carl Hagelin, Ryan Bourque, Dylan McIlrath and Tim Erixon.
Today we are going to do things a little differently and instead concentrate on a few names that may surprise us during the tournament while also looking at some of the potential dangermen on the opposing rosters.
Continue reading after the jump for Part Two of our Traverse City preview…
Unlike Thomas, Hagelin, Bourque, McIlrath and Erixon, there are likely to be a few players on the Rangers roster that we perhaps don’t have such high expectations of this weekend, for one reason or another. Personally I’d rather throw all expectation out of the window and just let the kids play, but unfortunately that’s not how it works.
One name that I and many others singled out pretty quickly in terms of prospective dark horses for the tournament was that of Andrew Yogan. 19-year old Yogan, like Carl Hagelin, ended last season in the AHL with the CT Whale after preseason shoulder surgery had kept him out of much of the 2010-11 OHL campaign with the Erie Otters.
Traverse City represents a big chance for Yogan to get off on the right foot this season after he clearly appeared to be ailed by his injury in Michigan last year. He was recently highlighted as part of the 20 Prospects Series on the Rangers official website and perhaps floats under the radar purely because people may not be entirely sure what to expect from him after such a curtailed season.
‘Dark horse’ may not be quite the right way to define 2011 first-rounder J.T. Miller in Traverse City, but it is fair to say that we aren’t quite sure what to expect from him as yet. As a tournament debutant and first-round pick, eyes will be firmly glued to Miller to see just how he fares against the best the other teams have to offer. For most of us, it also gives us a first real chance to watch Miller in a game situation; reports on him were very promising at the recent prospects development camp, but this is a completely different scenario and one he should thrive in.
Shane McColgan, another 2011 draft selection, was a player the Rangers were ecstatic to pick in the fifth round this summer. As with Miller, this will be his first chance to make an impression in Traverse City. After consecutive point-per-game seasons in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets, it came as somewhat of a surprise to see McColgan fall to the fifth round. The native Californian’s road to the NHL may be a comparatively long one when put aside that of Miller’s, but he may yet represent another home-run mid-round selection irrespective of what he accomplishes this weekend.
Goaltending is obviously something that will continue to be heavily scrutinised until someone breaks away from the pack. Scott Stajcer posted a 10-3 record with the Owen Sound Attack last year before having his regular season cut short, logging a career best 2.91GAA and a .901 save percentage in a notoriously high-scoring league. Stajcer returned to the Attack line-up during the playoffs, again posting figures that landed among the leagues best before signing his first professional contract with the Rangers earlier this year.
Stajcer returns to Traverse City for the third time this weekend and he will doubtless be eager to build on the two wins he picked up at the tournament last season.
In terms of tryout invitees, Jordan Hickmott and Matt Rust could be two to keep an eye on. Hickmott comes into the tournament off the back of a near-PPG season with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL while Rust, intriguingly, has spent the past three seasons skating alongside Carl Hagelin at the University of Michigan.
Looking at the Carolina Hurricanes, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars rosters, it’s fair to say that there are a few opposing players that the Rangers need to be very attentive toward. ‘Canes offensive defenseman Ryan Murphy is most definitely one, while fellow 2011 draft pick Jamie Oleksiak should cut a monstrous figure on the Stars blueline on September 11. Scott Glennie, Ty Rattie and Victor Rask headline a strong group of forwards.
One thing that needs repeating with the tournament beginning in Michigan tomorrow is MSG’s broadcast schedule.
For the first time in the tournament’s history the network will be broadcasting each and every single Rangers game live from Traverse City. Announced recently, too, is the integration of various social media aspects designed to allow fans to play a bigger part in the games via twitter and other online methods. Fans can ask questions during games, while some players will also be mic’d up, giving us greater access inside locker rooms and other areas.
It’s a commendable approach and one that should work well with fans eager to learn more about the teams prospects after a long summer. As I mentioned in today’s BlueLINES post this morning, there is of course the possibility that anything deemed remotely controversial will be left on the floor, but I’d like to think we’ll gain some interesting insights throughout the tournament.
Topics: Andrew Yogan, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, J.T. Miller, Jamie Oleksiak, Jonathan Miller, New York Rangers, Prospects, Prospects Tournament, Rangers, Ryan Murphy, Scott Glennie, Scott Stajcer, Shane Mccolgan, St. Louis Blues, Traverse City, Traverse City Prospects Tournament, Ty Rattie, Victor Rask