Monday, June 27, 2011

Rangers Prospects Erixon, Hagelin, Thomas Look To Leave Impression For Fall This Week

With prospect development camp getting underway today there are plenty of storylines to watch for during the week, while understanding that very few of these players stand much of a chance to make or contribute at the NHL level this coming season.  Tim Erixon, Carl Hagelin and Christian Thomas are the three main players at this week’s camp that do have a chance to crack the roster this year and have carrying levels of impact.

For these three, development camp is a combination of leaving an impression with the coaching staff and organization as it is learning what will be expected of them during training camp this fall. Erixon is the one seen as most likely to break camp with the Rangers as they open the season in Sweden.  His status as NHL ready and the Rangers willingness to give young defenders every opportunity to show they belong at the NHL level over the past few seasons makes him a good bet to be on the team.  He will have to show that he is steady enough to play at the highest level while showing the promise of adding some offense to the team.

Hagelin is a complete player and while many are regarding him mainly as a third or fourth line type player, he has the ability to play higher in the lineup.  The fact that the Rangers' coaching staff values players who work hard and play well in all three zones will certainly give Hagelin a chance to make the club. His work this week could impact the decisions the Rangers make in terms of filling out their roster this summer.  Hagelin is not seen as being as likely to make the Rangers this fall as Erixon, but he will certainly challenge for a spot and even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp the former Michigan star will be with the Rangers at some point during the season.  In order to make the squad he will have to show the complete game he was known for at Michigan in terms of playing both sides of the puck, being an excellent skater, able to play in any situation and some offensive finish.  He could be someone that threatens the role of a Ruslan Fedotenko this year.

Thomas is the most intriguing of the three because of his potential to add a sniper to the Rangers lineup and the fact that he is one of those NHL or Juniors players this season.  If Erixon or Hagelin need more time to develop in the AHL this fall as Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello did last season, then they can go to Hartford and play until they are ready to be in the NHL.  Thomas does not have that option as he will get this week, Traverse City and training camp to prove the Rangers should take a chance on him during the regular season.  If the Rangers do so, then he will have 9 games to prove he belongs there before the Rangers would have to send him back to Juniors in order to not lose a season on his contract.  Thomas has to show the offensive ability he displayed in Juniors can translate against the better competition and that his size wont be a huge detriment to him.

Lots of storylines going on this week at development camp, but watching how these three leave their mark in an attempt to make the team to start the 2011-12 season is one of the most intriguing.