It’s a great time to be a New York Rangers fan, as the NHL playoffs are around the corner and our heroes have qualified for the second consecutive season. But the Rangers aren’t the only ones gearing up for the postseason. The NCAA tournament is in full gear and the Canadian Junior Hockey leagues have just begun their playoffs. Today we look at the baby Blueshirts participating in those so you know who to root for.
There are two Rangers prospects in the Frozen Four, Eric Ciccolini (Round 7, 2019, 205 overall) and Brody Lamb (Round 4, 2021,104 overall).
The 22-year-old Ciccolini’s senior season has been his best yet. With seven goals and 11 points in 30 games, the 5’11, 170IBS forward seems healthy after an injury took him out practically all of last year before being hit from behind by Minnesota superstar Logan Cooley in November sidelined him for two months.
“He’s had a tough career at Michigan just with major injuries, like concussion, shoulder, knee,” head coach Brandon Naurato, who had the interim tag removed on Friday after two years of wearing it following his five-year extension with the program, told the Michigan Daily. “Hopefully, now he’s just laying it all out there and a little bit more healthy, and he can just get back to what he is.”
Yet even before his recent injury history, Ciccolini hasn’t lived up to the expectations, accumulating 23 points across his first- and second-year student campaigns making it unlikely New York signs him to an entry-level contract after this season. Before he was drafted, the Vaughan, Ontario, native played for the Toronto JR Canadiens.
In 2019, he registered 27 goals and 62 points in 48 games, showing what, according to scouts, was a “High -end skill set, offensive hockey sense, most. dangerous at the top seed.” Yet ever since he’s crossed the border, things have gone downhill for the Ranger hopeful.
The Wolverines have been led by projected overall 2023 NHL second-overall draft choice behind Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, 18, whose 29 goals and 64 points, paced College hockey and Devils prospect Luke Hughes, 19, who leads in scoring defenseman with ten goals and 47 points respectively.
Michigan has been on a tear since the conference playoffs, culminating with a 4-3 victory over the top-ranked Minnesota Gophers in the Big Ten championship game. After blasting Colgate 11-1 in round one of the NCAA tournament, sophomore Mackie Samoskevich booked Michigan’s 27th Frozen Four appearance and a battle against Quinnipiac, with the overtime winner for a 2-1 win over Penn State.
Meanwhile, Brody Lamb is a 19-year-old winger coming off a breakout year in the USHL, where he potted 19 goals and had 62 points with the Green Bay Gamblers. The freshman has been a vital depth piece in his for Minnesota, with four goals and eight points in 37 games.
Per Dobberprospects.com, the 6’1, 165IBS youngster is a “Shifty forward who possesses an effective release” and has a 55% chance of reaching the NHL someday.
The Gophers are spearheaded by Hobey Baker finalist(College MVP trophy) Logan Cooley, 19, who has twenty goals and 57 points. Aiding Cooley is fellow freshman and linemate Jimmy Snuggerd, with his 21 goals and 50 points, along with sophomore Maple Leaf’s prospect and Hobey Baker finalist Mathew Knies, who has 21 goals and 41 points on the season.
Despite falling to Michigan in the conference title game, Minnesota was still ranked as the overall one-seed in the tournament. In round one, they routed Canisus 9-2 before a 4-1 win over Cloud State saw them to a Frozen Four matchup with Boston University on April 6th in Tampa Bay, with the championship set for April 8th.
So with the American prospects out of the way, let’s cross the border and check out Canada!