Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ethan Werek Suspended Five Games For Elbowing Opponent In Head (Video)

On a day where there was a lot of positive news regarding New York Rangers prospects there is some disturbing news regarding 2009 second round pick Ethan Werek who was suspended for five games today by the OHL.  Friday night against the Oshawa Generals with only four seconds left in a 6-5 loss, Werek went behind the net and put on an awful display.  Werek lined up Boone Jenner who had his back to him behind the net, left his feet and elbowed him in the back of the head sending him into the boards.

Here is the video courtesy of The Prospect Park (hit occurs at 12:40):

Everything about Werek I have seen or heard says this is out of character for him, but this was a play I expect from a Matt Cooke and has no place in the game of hockey.  The elbow was bad all by itself, but leaving his feet to make that kind of hit on a defenseless player is ridiculous and that five game suspension was more than deserved.  Hopefully Ethan learns from this and moves forward.

Video: Nathan Livingstone Buzzer Beater From Past Center Ice During Playoff Game

March is the time we most associate with buzzer beating shots, but usually it basketball and not hockey that people immediately think of in those situations.  Nathan Livingstone changed that some yesterday when he beat the buzzer not just on any shot, but on one from behind the red line during a Central Junior A playoff game.

Luckily for the goaltender the team would end up winning the game handily so he can laugh about it along with everyone else.

Hat Tip to Puck Daddy

Rangers Sign Dylan McIlrath, Ryan Bourque To Entry-Level Contracts

The New York Rangers via their official twitter account have confirmed the signings of 2010 first round selection defenseman Dylan McIlrath and forward 2009 third round pick Ryan Bourque to three year entry level contracts. 

There are no details at the current moment on the McIlrath contract, but I will post them when they are out.  In 59 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this season McIlrath has recorded five goals and 18 assists for 23 points, along with 141 penalty minutes. 

As far as Ryan Bourque goes Capgeek has the details on his deal as a two-way contract worth a maximum of 1.97 million over three years.  The deal calls for Bourque to earn $67, 500 each year in the AHL with differing salaries in the NHL.  On the season Bourque has 26 goals, 31 assists and 57 points in 47 games for the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL.

This is a very good day to be a Rangers fan as they are singing more young prospects to NHL contracts.  The caveat however to the excitement getting out of control is the realization that many of these deals are done to make players able to play in the AHL playoffs.  This does not mean that either will play professionally next season.  Bourque is likely to be in Hartford, but McIlrath is not eligible for the AHL, much the way Del Zotto was not last season because he will be under 20 and was in the CHL at the time of his being drafted.

Rumor: Rangers To Sign Carl Hagelin Soon

Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images
According to Larry Brooks at the New York Post the Rangers are expected to sign 2007 6th round pick Carl Hagelin at the conclusion of his senior season at Michigan.  If Michigan reaches the championship game this season, then his college season could extend all the way to April 9.  The Connecticut Whale end their regular season on April 10.  That means that if Hagelin’s season ends early he could join them for their final playoff push or if it doesn’t and the Whale manage to get into the playoffs he could join them at that point.

Hagelin has had a brilliant career for the Wolverines and a tremendous senior season.  On the year he has 17 goals and 30 assists in just 38 games, which earned him a position as one of three finalists for the CCHA player-of-the-year.  Along with that he was nominated for CCHA defensive player of the year, which shows the kind of two-way hockey player he is.  Hagelin is a sleeper prospect who many have lost track of over the years while other guys got all the attention, but do not sleep on the level of skill he has.  He possesses excellent speed, toughness to his game, can play in all situations and has excellent hands.  Hagelin will be a force on the penalty kill as he is a constant threat to go the other way for a shorthanded goal.

Depending on what happens with the Rangers during the offseason in terms of signings Hagelin definitely has a chance to make the roster out of camp next year, but is more likely to start the season in the AHL and have a similar development timetable to Mats Zuccarello this year. 

Erik Christensen Is Becoming A Consistent Factor For the Rangers

Nick Laham/Getty Images
There are few if any players as frustrating and infuriating than the New York Rangers Erik Christensen, but as much as he has been criticized for his inconsistency both in effort and production he now deserves equal praise.  On the season Christensen’s numbers are very poor with 11 goals and 12 assists in 52 games.  Those numbers only look worse when you consider the number of opportunities he has had to play with Marian Gaborik on the top line and on the power play.  However, over his last seven games Christensen has put things together much more consistently with five goals and four assists while only going scoreless in two of those contests.  This is the kind of production that everyone has been hoping to see from him for some time and while he is not well liked by many fans because of his inconsistent history he must stay in the lineup when he is going like this.
When he is at his best he can make plays with the puck that few others on the team can make.  He has tremendous passing skill and a very good, quick wrist shot and hands all of which he displays prominently in the shootout.  The problem had been his inability to do anything of value in the first 60-65 minutes, but over this last stretch of games the good is showing up with frequency and the invisible Christensen seems to have disappeared from reality.

Video: Henrik Lundqvist Shows How A King Protects His Castle Robbing Okposo Twice

When the final score ends up 6-3 it is easy to assume the game was easy and under control the whole way, and for the most part it was, but that is thanks to some huge saves that Henrik Lundqvist made in the first period when Rangers defensive breakdowns gave the Islanders some prime chances.  Once again Lundqvist showed everyone how the king protects his castle.