As per Dmitry Chesnokov, the rumored NHL/KHL games, of which the Rangers would partake, are not going to happen. Chesnokov cited KHL President Alexander Medvedev, who told Russia Today TV Channel:
“It looks like that we will not see such matches next season. And we have only one reason that the NHL due to their, sort of say, exclusively business-like approach…”
Without getting into all the messy details (read Chesnokov’s article for those), this is probably a good thing for the Rangers, who were slated to play the biggest goons in the league. Considering the rash of Ranger injuries this year, a game against a ton of goons is not a good idea. Seriously, have you seen Vityaz Chekhov’s stats?
In addition to potentially opening the season in Europe next year, the Rangers are currently in talks to have an exhibition game against a KHL team while overseas. The team the Rangers may play? Vityaz Chekhov. For those who are unsure who they are, watch this video, and then ask yourself if you really want the Rangers playing them next season.
As per Puck Daddy, Vityaz GM Alexei Zhamnov was a little bit surprised that the Rangers, who are organizing this voluntarily, picked Vityaz:
“I have no idea why they picked us,” Zhamnov continued. “Last week I received the first phone call about it. And on Thursday a representative from the Rangers will fly to Moscow. On Friday we are going to have a meeting with him to negotiate regarding details. We are very interested in this project. We had no doubts whether to agree to it.”
It is a little surprising that the Rangers would pick Vityaz over a team like the Dynamo Moscow (Jaromir Jagr’s team). They are a bit of a dirty club, but a dirty club that sits in the bottom of the standings. That probably has a lot to do with it. If the Rangers do wind up playing Vityaz next season, let’s hope that it doesn’t open with a brawl like that. The Rangers have had enough injuries to deal with this year.
Last night, Team USA saw their hopes of winning two straight gold medals at the World Junior Championships crushed at the hands of an incredibly stacked Team Canada. The USA, featuring Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque, played a very lackluster game, and lost 4-1 to the Canadians. The only bright spot for Team USA was goalie Jack Campbell, who stood on his head and was the only reason why this game wasn’t 10-1 at the end. Both Bourque and Kreider played strong games, but the overall play of Team USA left something to be desired.
As for Team Sweden, with Rangers prospect Jesper Fasth, they fell in a shootout to Russia 4-3, and will face USA for the bronze medal. Fasth made the Rangers proud, playing a solid game and netting an assist while playing top line minutes. The bronze medal game will begin at 3:30pm on Wednesday.
All four Ranger prospects, including Roman Horak of the Czech Republic, have played solidly in this tournament. Kreider, Bourque, and Horak are three names you generally hear when talking about Ranger prospects, but Fasth really landed on the map after this tournament. Fasth still has two years left on his contract with the Swedish Elite League, but Kreider, Bourque, and Horak will likely turn pro after their seasons end in the NCAA, QMJHL, and WHL respectively.
Team USA, one of the strong teams at this year’s World Junior Championships, won its games last night to improve to 3-0 in round robin play. Chris Kreider (first round, 2009) scored for Team USA in their 4-0 win over Germany. In a game utterly dominated by Team USA, Kreider scored a powerplay goal in the second period, his first of the tournament. Ryan Bourque (third round, 2009) also added an assist. In the three games thus far for Team USA, Kreider has a goal and two assists, and Bourque has two assists. Both are seeing significant ice time.
Meanwhile, in a game that saw two Ranger prospects square off, Sweden knocked off the Czech Republic 6-3 to also remain 3-0 in round robin play. Jesper Fasth (sixth round, 2010) netted two goals in the game, giving him a total of three goals to go with one assist in Sweden’s three games thus far. In the game, Czech winger Roman Horak (fifth round, 2009) did not score, but played a very strong game and was one of the Czech’s key players.
Each team plays their final games of round robin play today, with Sweden taking on Canada at 4pm, Czech Republic taking on Russia at 7pm, and Team USA taking on Switzerland at 8pm. Both USA and Sweden have wrapped up spots in the single elimination tournament, but the Czechs need a win against Russia to secure that final spot.
As most of the Rangers prospects find themselves in the middle of their long seasons, four Rangers prospects are fighting it out in Buffalo at the World Junior Championship. Chris Kreider (2 assists in 2 games) and Ryan Bourque are key parts of Team USA who have won their first two games. Meanwhile Chilliwack Bruins center Roman Horak hasn’t had as much success as the two young Americans, going scoreless thus far as the Czech entry has struggled in the WJC this year. Then there is Jesper Fasth of Sweden. Largely unknown to Rangers fans it is the first real glimpse into his play for many and he has already shown some promise. Scoring 1 and assisting on another the young winger has 2 points in as many games to go with a solid +2. On the whole, a good start to his first WJC for Team Sweden. It will be interesting to see how the four prospects continue their tourneys, whether it be in the medal round (USA, Sweden) or likely in the relegation round (Czech Republic).
Injuries affecting prospects
Back in junior and it hasn’t been a kind period for other prospects. Ethan Werek recently missed his 5th straight game and given his poor plus/minus it’s being speculated that a overage season in the OHL may be the best course of action for the talented pivot. Given the fact he was considered a dark horse for the Rangers this past pre season its not a good development for Werek but on the flip side, given the new found (young) depth the Rangers have at center it may be a good career choice for Werek to go back, stay healthy and dominate. He’s clearly still in the minds of the Rangers management given how talented he is and there’s no rush in pushing a prospect when he needs more development.
More bad news comes in the shape of Scott Stajcer. The goalie, who enjoyed an excellent start to the year and who subsequently cooled off prior to injury has now had surgery and isn’t expected to be back for 6-8 weeks. It’s a major set back for the young netminder who was in the midst of a critical season in his development. This injury set back may see the Rangers draft another goalie this summer given their lack of depth at the position, even in spite of another solid year from Chad Johnson in the AHL.
Another prospect badly affected by injury is Randy McNaught. The tough draftee has been ruled out for the rest of the season and given the fact he was in his overage season he will never play in the WHL again. The Rangers now have to decide whether to offer the prospect a contract based on a very small sample size of play, leaving the most likely course of action an AHL contract or maybe a spell in the ECHL next year, should the Rangers want to keep him within their organisation.
Team USA continued their winning ways last night, crushing Slovakia 6-1 to increase their record to 2-0 in the tournament. Rangers prospects Chris Kreider (first round, 2009) and Ryan Bourque (third round, 2009). Both players earned assists in the contest, giving Kreider two for the tournament, and Bourque one. Although neither player has scored a goal, both look very strong and have been playing very well, including getting considerable time on the powerplay. Bourque was also used on the penalty kill. Kreider also finished with a +1 rating, while Bourque was even for the game. Team USA’s next game is tomorrow against Germany at 7pm.
Jesper Fasth (sixth round, 2010), playing for Sweden, scored a goal and finished with a +1 rating in Sweden’s 2-0 win over Russia. Sweden, like the USA, is 2-0 so far in tournament play.
Roman Horak (fifth round, 2009), playing for the Czech Republic, was held off the score sheet as the Czechs were dominated by the Canadians. Sweden (with Fasth) will face the Czech Republic (with Horak) tomorrow at 7pm.
The Rangers have four prospects playing in this year’s World Junior Championship, and three of them played last night in Buffalo. Team USA, who won gold last year, has Chris Kreider (1st round, 2009) and Ryan Bourque (3rd round, 2009) returning for this year’s tournament. Team USA started off strong, beating Team Finland 3-2 in overtime last night. Kreider assisted on USA’s first goal, playing on the first line. Bourque was held off the score sheet while playing on the third line. Both finished with an even rating.
Jesper Fasth (6th round, 2010) was also in action for Team Sweden yesterday. Fasth had an assist in Sweden’s 7-1 rout of Norway while skating on the top line. Fasth also finish with a +1 rating. This is his first World Junior Championship.
The fourth Rangers prospect participating in this year’s tournament is Roman Horak (5th round, 2009), playing for the Czech Republic. Horak, like Kreider and Bourque, is playing in his second straight tournament. He will suit up today as the Czechs take on Norway.
In relatively expected news, Rangers prospects Ryan Bourque (3rd round, 2009) and Chris Kreider (1st round, 2009) were selected to Team USA for the upcoming World Junior Championships, to be held in Buffalo, NY. This is the second year in a row that both Kreider and Bourque will be on Team USA, who won gold during last year’s tournament. Kreider led the team and tournament in goals last year. Absent from the roster this year is Derek Stepan, who was the captain and leading scorer. Stepan isn’t on the roster because he is currently with the Rangers.
Unlike the Canadian national junior team it seems the American equivalent values Rangers prospects.
Looking to defend the WJC title they won in thrilling style against Canada last year, USA announced that Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque will return as part of the roster. Other key players on the team include goalie Jack Campbell and Jeremy Morin. Obviously, not part of the side is key center Derek Stepan who’s enjoying his rookie year with the Rangers. Forwards Bourque and Kreider both played large roles on last years side and will once again be counted on as USA look to win gold for the second time in a row. Last year Kreider arguably had his coming out party as a prospect – at the WJC – scoring key goals throughout the tournament while Bourque was a huge part of an effective penalty killing side.
This year’s tourney will be important for both players but in different ways. Kreider – rated the Rangers’ top prospect – has had a slow start to his year but has recently picked it up. The Boston college winger will look to use the tournament to prove he’s ready for the pro game next season by dominating both physically and offensively. Bourque meanwhile will look to prove he can score at the higher level and isn’t just a checking forward at higher levels. Quebec winger Bourque is also perhaps not given the dues that his talent level is deserving of because of his size and injury history. A strong WJC would put him firmly in the focus and legitimize him as a top prospect for the Rangers. The WJC will be interesting to watch once more for Ranegrs fans.
Rangers prospects Ryan Bourque (USA), Chris Kreider (USA), and Ethan Werek (CAN) were invited to their respective World Junior Championships camps for 2011. Bourque and Kreider both played on Team USA, which won Gold, in 2010. Kreider, the Rangers first round pick in 2009, finished with the tournament lead in goals, putting up a line of 6-1-7 in seven games. Bourque, the Rangers third round pick in 2009, provided solid third line minutes while netting three assists in the seven games. Werek, the Rangers 2009 second rounder, did not play for Team Canada last season, and this would be his first World Junior Championships.
The fact that the Rangers have their top three picks from the 2009 draft invited to their respective World Juniors camps highlights the strength of the Rangers drafting in 2009. Drafting has become a strength that we as Rangers fans are not accustomed to, and it is starting to give us hope that this team is on the right path.