Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rangers Analysis: Top 20 Prospects Hockey's Future Thoughts

Over at Hockey’s Future, Leslie Treff, has released her New York Rangers top 20 prospects spring update.  The list has changed some through graduations (Derek Stepan, Michael Sauer) as well as players that rose or fell in the rankings. The list shows how much talent is on the way for the Rangers to add to all the young talent that is already here.
Top 5:
Chris Kreider remains in the top spot on the list on the back of a solid if unspectacular sophomore season at Boston College.  He did with the MVP of the 2011 Beanpot, but has had inconsistent results during the year.  There will be a lot of intrigue this summer to see if he signs or returns to BC for his Junior season.
Ryan McDonagh climbed three spots on the list from five to number two on the back of his performance in the NHL.  His AHL season was slow to begin and better later, but did not portend to have this kind of immediate transition to the NHL as he had made so smoothly thus far to make himself arguably the Rangers best defender in the second half or at least part of the best defensive pair, along with Michael Sauer, the team has had since the All-Star Break
Christian Thomas was the biggest riser in the group flying from 10 to 3 on the back of a tremendous OHL season in which he has 54 goals 45 assists and 99 points in 66 games.  I expect him to get a chance in camp next season with his excellent sniping abilities but given his size he is likely to end up back in the OHL to tear it up for another season.
Evgeny Grachev came in at number four on Leslie’s list and I would have to say I disagree with ranking him that highly.  The overall game has improved for Grachev this season as has his work ethic, but his offensive production does not really mesh with being rated that highly on the prospect list.  Talent is still there though.
Mats Zuccarello rounded out the top five, dropping one spot from the preseason rankings, and Leslie’s read on Zuccarello is spot on in terms of his strength on and off the puck and his ability to get positioning being key factors to determine if his offensive talents will really allow him to become a big contributor.
Players Ranked Too Low
Carl Hagelin came in at number seven on the list and this is mainly because of the perceived lack of upside from where he is and the assumption that he can only be a third or fourth line type player.  I am not convinced that is the case and I would have had Carl as high as 4th if I were making the list.
Roman Horak came in down at number 15 which is very low for a player who has shown the kind of improvement that Horak has from year to year.  He has been an underappreciated prospect and he will get his shot next year in the AHL to show that he can be more than just a checking line type player as his offense is better than is given credit for.

Players Ranked Too High
Ryan Bourque came it at number eight and while he has the skill to be a solid NHL player there are still a lot of question marks that make his transition far from certain.  I would have dropped him down to around 12.

Chad Johnson stayed inside the top 10 despite a subpar season in the AHL and has a lot left to prove before he can be considered an NHL backup.