It’s fair to say that when Kyle Jean tried out for the Rangers almost every Ranger fan didn’t have an idea about the young try-out nor were expectations particularly high. After all, try outs come and go in their dozens and rarely does one stick with a club let alone make some noise. So its fair to say that despite a promising pre-season its come as a surprise to many that Jean has exploded into the AHL season with the Whale grabbing 9 points in 7 games while leading several more eagerly anticipated prospects in scoring a long the way.
Prior to making the Whale, Jean played college hockey and while his numbers for the CCHA’s Lake Superior were solid (38 points in 77 games), they were certainly not stand out from the crowd worthy. Indeed, Jean at 22 is not even particularly young for a prospect. So what is there to like about him at first glance? Physically, Jean has great size at 6’3 and 205 lbs and is a left-handed shot. He is also more than willing to put the puck on net at any given opportunity and looks to finish. You can never have enough goal scoring and it’s certainly something the Rangers want more of – hence Mr R. Nash’s acquisition.
If you’ve been following the Connecticut Whale, then you’ve noticed that some of the highly touted prospects, including Chris Kreider, aren’t scoring at a pace that some would like to see. Kreider, who is NHL ready, has a line or 1-3-4 through six games, and isn’t even in the top five in scoring on the club. Meanwhile, Kris Newbury is leading the team in scoring (as per usual).
It’s important to note that it’s not about the point totals. It’s about how players look on the ice. It’s why a lot of folks are very happy about the way Kyle Jean is progressing, as he is putting up points and looking like a possible NHL forward in the process. It’s also why you shouldn’t necessarily be worried about the point totals of Kreider and J.T. Miller.
It’s fair to say that the Connecticut Whale have had an indifferent start to the season, stumbling to a 1-3-1 record to open the year. What the Whale’s start also suggests is that when you dig a little deeper there may be a need for patience in regard to prospect development.
With two points in his first five games Chris Kreider has hardly set the world alight. Christian Thomas has a single goal in five games, while JT Miller had three assists in his opening four games of the regular season before displaying all his potential with a breathtaking individual effort against Albany midweek.
Miller and Kreider in particular raised levels of expectation with their strong play in the preseason, however it’s fair to say only Miller is delivering at present. With regard to the prospects Rangers’ fans have possibly been guilty of getting ahead of themselves when thinking how ready Kreider and co were. Being NHL ready can take time.
Norfolk, VA, October 19, 2012 – The Connecticut Whale got its first point of the young season, courtesy of a third-period comeback, but remained winless on the season Friday, as Corey Elkins’ third goal of the game with 29.2 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Norfolk Admirals a 5-4 win at Scope Arena.
Brandon Segal, who won a Calder Cup with the Admirals last season, scored his first two Whale goals in the third period to wipe out a 4-2 Whale deficit, and Matt Gilroy also had his first two AHL goals for Connecticut. Jay Rosehill and Peter Holland also scored for Norfolk, and defenseman Sami Vatanen had three assists. Kris Newbury, Mike Vernace and Kyle Jean had two assists each for the Whale.
Friday’s game was the first of back-to-back meetings between the Whale and Admirals, who will face off again Saturday night at 7:15 PM (“The Rock” 106.9 WCCC-FM, www.wccc.com).
Although the Connecticut Whale are opening the season without Marek Hrivik and Ryan Bourque (in addition to Dylan McIlrath and Cam Talbot), they are still able to dress a formidable set of 12 forwards in tonight’s opener against Bridgeport. Blueshirts United posted the lines from Wednesday’s practice, and they look strong:
Chris Kreider-Kris Newbury-Chad Kolarik
JT Miller-Kyle Jean-Andrew Yogan
Tommy Grant-Michael Haley-Christian Thomas
Brandon Segal-Kelsey Tessier-Shayne Wiebe
Those top three lines are very capable of putting pucks in the net, and doing so often. Yes, even Haley, who played to a 40 point per season average while in the AHL over the last two seasons. Remember, this team only gets stronger when Hrivik and Bourque are back in the lineup.
Connecticut is trimming its roster in preparation for their season opener this Friday, and that included trimming the roster by 13 players. Four players will skate for the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL, while nine were cut and released from their training camp tryouts.
Assigned to Greenville (ECHL):
Defensemen (1): Steven Delisle Forwards (3): Ryan Flanigan, Danny Hobbs, Jordie Johnston
Released from training camp tryouts:
Goaltenders (2): Bryan Hince, Kyle Rank Defensemen (3): Kyle Haines, Colten Hayes, Brent Henley Forwards (4): Andrew Courtney, Scott Tanski, Nicolas Tremblay, Francis Verreault-Paul
The moves leave 28 skaters in Connecticut, including three goalies:
With two preseason games down and one to go, Connecticut General Manager Jim Schoenfeld trimmed the Whale roster by 12 players. These 12 players will either be assigned to the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL, or given their outright release if they were not under contract:
Danny Hobbs, Brent Henley, Scott Tanski, Steven Delisle, Ryan Flanigan, Jordie Johnston, Kyle Haines, Andrew Coutney, Colten Hayes, Bryan Hince, and Kyle Rank.
As for the 24 remaining players in camp, they were re-joined by Kris Newbury, who had been injured for the first few days of camp. Per Blueshirts United (same link above), Newbury centered a line with Chris Kreider and Chad Kolarik. This line will likely be the top line for the Whale when the regular season begins.
After wrapping up last night’s loss, we decided that it may be a good idea to create some game threads for the CT Whale games during the lockout. Our goal is to post some background info on the opponent, and hopefully some line combinations.
Opponent: Worcester Sharks NHL Affiliate: San Jose Sharks Notable NHLers: Tim Kennedy? Top Prospects: Freddie Hamilton (2010, 5th), Travis Oleksuk (Undrafted), Matt Tennyson (Undrafted), Taylor Doherty (2009, 2nd), Harri Sateri (2008, 4th)
Despite the 3-1 loss to Albany in Connecticut’s 2012-2013 preseason opener, there were many positives coming from the game. Per Jim Cerny, top prospect J.T. Miller was one player that stood out the most during the loss. Miller recorded the Whale’s lone goal and was a physical and dominating presence on the ice. Miller, playing on a line with Michael Haley and Chad Kolarik, was creative and showed that he belonged on the ice with the other AHL players.
Meanwhile, across the pond, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast continued their torrid starts. Lindberg added another assist to his totals in a 2-1 shootout loss, while Fast scored yet another goal in HV71’2 4-1 win. Lindberg remains in the top five in scoring, while Fast is tied for second in goals.
One other item worth noting is that Thomas Spelling has only dressed for one game for Rogle’s SEL squad. He has suited up every other game in the Swedish Juniors*, and he is not very happy about it. The link is in Danish, but the Google Chrome translator gave this little nugget:
“It is as if the coach doesn’t believe in me, and I never really get any feedback other than being told that “things are going in the right direction”. But he never really speaks to me, unless I come to him first”