Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rangers To Qualify John Mitchell

Per Bruce Berlet at CTWhale.com, Rangers Assistant Coach/Assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld in discussing the contributions of the Whale to the New York Rangers 2010-11 season last month said that the team will qualify restricted free agent John Mitchell this summer.  
“I was really happy with him,” Schoenfeld said. “Here’s a guy that had a knee injury and missed seven weeks and then broke his foot (in Hartford), so one thing that was hurt was his conditioning. And yet he’s a big body (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) with skill, and he’s competitive and intelligent. So this is a very important summer for him in terms of his commitment to conditioning. He’ll get a real good look as far as becoming a Ranger.”
His skills lend him the ability to make the team as either a fourth line center or an extra forward that they carry in case of injury.  Mitchell was acquired at the trade deadline from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 7th round draft pick in 2012.  The qualifying offer for Mitchell will be $761,250 and because he did not play 60 games last year, or 180 NHL games in the past three years that qualifying offer can be a two-way deal instead of requiring a one-way contract.  Given those factors, the decision to qualify Mitchell was one that seems easy for the Rangers to make as he either makes the Rangers at a very reasonable salary or becomes a solid AHL veteran to mix with all the young prospects that will be infused into Connecticut next season.
Hat tip to Dave Shapiro over at Blue Seat Blogs for finding this.

2011 NHL Draft Prospects: Ty Rattie

The 2011 draft now less than one month away, and the Rangers scouting and front office staff is looking through many prospects to see who they want to select with the 15th overall selection.  With the current state of the Rangers defense both at the NHL and prospect level one would expect that New York will look for offense in the first round of the draft hoping to find an impact scorer.  There are a number of offensive prospects that could be available at 15.  We have already looked at Mark Scheifele, Mark McNeill, Zack Phillips, Joel Armia and their potential fits for the Rangers.
Yesterday we looked at Sven Bartschi of the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League and today we will examine his teammate Ty Rattie.  Rattie is not as explosive as Bartschi, but he did manage to put up 28 goals and 51 assists in 67 regular season goals.  Like many of his Portland teammates, Rattie had a very good playoffs with nine goals and 13 assists in 21 games.
Kirk Luedeke of Bruins Draft Watch’s:
Small but creative playmaking winger hit the wall a bit in the second half, but is still a solid first-round prospect with upside. The Albertan isn't a blazer, but is very strong on his skates and highly elusive, able to slither through defenses and would-be checkers in full control of the puck. NHL scouts tell us that his second WHL season was so much more impressive than his first, when he seemed to spend more time trying the flashy play and forcing things. This season, Rattie was much more patient, working with his linemates better and not trying to do it all himself. His 79 points were third on the team behind Ryan Johansen and Bartschi, and look for Rattie to push for 90 to 100+ points next season.
The Scouting Report (Ranked 20, midseason):
Since his huge October, he has seen his point per game total dip after posting 23 points in 12 October games. There is no question that Rattie has the potential to be a top 6 forward in the NHL one day.  Rattie is an above average skater who sees the play extremely well and is very skilled at creating quality chances in the offensive zone.  He also has the scoring touch to finish off those opportunities.
A forward with a good hockey sense. A decent skater but has improved lately. Has very good hands. Works hard and takes care of his defensive duties. Has a good attitude. Needs to improve his skating and gain strength. (Matias Strozyk)
Rattie is on the smaller size and is not the fastest skater, but he makes up for his lack of explosion with agility and elusiveness on the ice.  He can do this because of his hands and ability to handle the puck.  He adds to that excellent vision which he uses for himself and to set up his teammates.  Having a player who can create for others as he has done this season for Bartschi and plays with an edge is something that the Rangers could use, but the organization does have a few small forwards already in the system so his size could be an issue selecting him. The Rangers should consider Rattie at 15, but he could likely be had slightly later in the first.

Del Zotto Working Hard This Summer To Regain Past Form, Roster Spot

Al Bello/Getty Images
According to Andrew Gross of NorthJersey.com Michael Del Zotto is looking to put his forgettable sophomore season behind him and look ahead to being an impact player for the Rangers during the 2011-12 season.
“Last year was last year and I’m not thinking about it,” Del Zotto said. “I have to move forward. It was just a bump in the road. I believe that I have a long career ahead and I want to help this team out. I have to come back with confidence and the mind-set that I do belong in New York. I’ve got to come back with that swagger. I kind of lost it but I know I have what it takes.”
It was clearly early on last season that the swagger he had during his successful rookie campaign of nine goals and 28 assists was missing and Del Zotto never found a way to capture it again during the year.  The fact that he believes that he can get it back, that he belongs at this level is something that will be critical to him actually proving those things are the case again.  He will not be handed anything this time around and it is good to see that he recognizes that fact.  
 Asked if he felt he would get a fair shot to reclaim his roster spot in training camp, Del Zotto said, "I believe so, but, you know what? Who knows? It's a business out there. I'm just coming in with the mind-set of trying to make the team."
Fair or unfair there are those who believe that his rookie season left Del Zotto with a sense of entitlement to his place in the lineup and caused for a lack of effort last summer to prepare for this year.  I do not know if that is true, but it certainly appears that some of the struggles this year, and his demotions to the minors, have shaken him of any of those notions and the effort will be there this summer.

The fact that Del Zotto is going to spend time this summer studying some of the best point men in the league in Nicklas Lidstrom and Dan Boyle is an exciting prospect for his future, especially for those who have questioned his desire or work ethic.  The only issue that could come out of that negatively is that Del Zotto continues his pattern of attempting to do too much on the ice.  In that sense he could learn a lot from watching and studying the guys within the Rangers organization.  None of them have the offensive skills of a Lidstrom or Boyle, but before Del Zotto tries to imitate some of the best to ever play the position he needs to learn to play the simple game.  If Del Zotto can take the step of just taking what the opposition is giving him whether it be handling the puck, making the simple outlet pass or shooting when he has the lane, then he will make significant progress in his development and his natural talent will take over from there.