The Rangers’ Prospects are still turning heads throughout their own playoffs this year. In a head to head battle of Rangers picks Christian Thomas and Jason Wilson went head to head Wednesday night as Oshawa took on Niagara in the OHL Eastern Semi’s. Wilson’s Ice Dogs had a surprising 2-1 lead before the game and made it a commanding 3-1 lead after. Both Rangers prospects made an impact. Wilson was named first star on the back of two crucial goals including the game winner (as well as an assist) while Thomas scored the lone goal for Oshawa as his team lost 6-1 to be on the brink of elimination. Thomas’ goal was his playoff leading 8th goal and 18th point in just 9 games and has a 4 point lead on the next best scorer in the OHL. Thomas has clearly carried his form right through the year to establish himself as an elite prospect. Wilson too however, is making the Rangers draft team look good. Following a good regular season Wilson has 9 points in 8 playoff games and is playing great hockey. Another Ranger prospect, Dan Maggio of the Generals, was pointless and had an even rating on the night. He remains on 3 points and -1 in 9 games thus far. It will be interesting to see whether some of these players get signed up for the AHL playoffs upon elimination from the junior tournament.
Over in the Quebec Junior league, recent Ranger signee Ryan Bourque is also having a productive playoffs. In 8 games thus far the diminutive forward has 9 points in 8 games as his Remparts team are 3-1 up in their second round series against Shawinigan. Wednesday night saw the Remparts take a 2 game lead with a comprehensive 5-1 victory, the third time in 4 games they have managed to score 5 or more goals. Alternate captain Bourque was actually scoreless in Wednesday night’s game and credited with one hit.
No Rangers prospect extended their seasons over in the WHL, hence players such as Dylan Mcilrath were able to sign on to play in the AHL during the remainder of this season. The fact that Chilliwack’s season is over and Roman Horak had an excellent year does however make you wonder why he wasn’t offered a similar deal to play in the AHL playoffs for the Whale. While Horak ‘only’ had 3 points in 5 games during the playoffs for the Bruins that came on the heels of an excellent regular season which saw the center notch 78 points in 64 games, a big improvement on his first year in the WHL. One can only guess why he isn’t in the AHL right now.
Finally, deserving of the last mention today is goalie Scott Stajcer, back in the OHL. Stajcer opened the season needing a good year if the Rangers were going to sign him. He then opened the year scorching hot before suffering a long injury throwing his future into doubt. Well, he’s found his game once more, in the OHL playoffs. Stajcer’s Owen Sound Attack beat Plymouth 4-1 to sweep their series and move to the OHL West Finals for the first time in over a decade. Stajcer was named first star of the game thanks to 36 saves and won his fourth straight start. Stajcer’s numbers in the playoffs are staggering. He boasts a .963%, a 1.07GAA and has 4 wins in 5 games. The fact Stajcer is playing such good hockey at the most important time of year speaks volumes to his character.
Stacjer’s play also makes you wonder about the Rangers intentions regards to the young goalie. With the Rangers recently signing Jason Missiaen, with Cam Talbot, Chad Johnson and Whale player of the year, veteran Dov Grumet-Morris also all in net, the Rangers have a lot of goalies signed on for next year beyond the NHL team (I must admit to not knowing Grumet-Morris’ contract status). That log jam and the fact the Rangers need to sign Stajcer before June to retain his rights makes you wonder whether Stajcer will be signed up. His play this year seems deserving of an entry level deal. Should be worth monitoring.