One of the more intriguing storylines to watch during the beginning of training camp is the combination of veteran players fighting to keep their spots and the young prospects trying to crack the New York Rangers lineup. Coming into camp Tim Erixon was the most talked about young player, with good reason, but Carl Hagelin is right there in terms of chances to make the roster. Hagelin is a perfect fit for Tortorella’s forechecking system because of his speed to get up and down the ice and his strength down low. Combine those things with a smart hockey player that can play in all situations and you have the ultimate threat to a veteran trying to hold on to their NHL job. Hagelin’s early camp work has not gone unnoticed by coach John Tortorella either…
“Well, he can skate. That’s a big plus. We’re trying to be a team that’s attacking and trying to chase down pucks, and he can skate. So he’s one of those kids that’s going to get a look. He’s going to get some games and see if he can sink or swim. It’s going to be up to him, but he’s going to get an opportunity.”
Speed is something that in the past the Rangers have struggled against, but with players like Hagelin on the way they have the ability to counter the speed other teams have while putting pressure on them as well. While his speed is his most noticeable asset at first, Hagelin can everything well out there. He has excellent vision, is tough around the net and in the corners, has a good shot along with very good hands. Watching Hagelin in Traverse the thing that stuck out most other than the speed was his hockey sense as the puck seems to find him because of him always putting himself in the right position. This is similar to what happened with Stepan last year as the season approached. Now we will see if he can have that kind of impact in preseason games.
This is what training camp and more importantly preseason games like tonight are all about as young players like Hagelin get the opportunity to win themselves continued looks until the coaching staff has no choice to keep them on the roster. This is exactly how Derek Stepan made the team last season as he took the option of Hartford off the table with his excellent preseason work. Hagelin is going to get his opportunity and while he has never been the most hyped Rangers’ prospect he is as NHL ready as any within the organization.