(Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
No matter how much we choose to ignore it, injuries happen to every NHL club. Players get banged up, nicked up, and bruised just like everyone else. It is one of the reasons why teams spend some time and money building their depth in the AHL, as these players can come to define a season. Some players, like Ryan McDonagh, can even make veterans expendable (see: Rozsival, Michal). Others enter in an attempt to shake things up (Carl Hagelin) or due to large numbers of injuries (Stu Bickel). Either way, AHL depth is often an overlooked quality for perennial contenders.
As the Rangers call up more players, their depth in the AHL diminishes slightly. Gone are the big effects of Hagelin and McDonagh. Even Bickel has parlayed his call up into a two-year deal. The Rangers already have a spare forward (Michael Haley) and a spare defenseman (Steve Eminger) on the roster, but the injury bug isn’t always that friendly. As multiple players go down, others will need to be brought up.
Naturally, the role the injured player has will affect the player called up, so let’s look at the strong possibilities to fill these important roles:
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Kyle Jean has popped up on everyone’s radar.
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.
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Kyle Jean is off to a hot start in the AHL.
When the Rangers signed Kyle Jean to a contract over the summer, not many were sure what to expect. After all, Jean wasn’t exactly lighting the lamp in the CCHA, finishing with 36 points in 77 games before coming on board with the Rangers as a non-roster invitee to the prospect development camp. But four games into his AHL career, Jean is one of the more dominant forces on the ice for the Whale, netting three goals and three assists.
Because of this hot start, many are anointing Jean as the next Dan Girardi. It’s easy to see the similarities, as both were undrafted free agents that managed to find a spot within the Rangers organization. Girardi clawed his way up from the ECHL, while Jean has found a more direct route from within the AHL. That said, it has been just four games.
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I know Dave wrote an Around the Farm today but as my ego demands it from time to time I wanted to share my thoughts from the Whale win last night as well. Sometimes, a variety of opinions suggest different things. (p.s. I hadn’t yet read Dave’s write up as I wrote this)
As the Whale managed to beat the Flyers affiliate Phantoms 3-1 last night there was plenty of positives to take out of the game from both a Whale and a Rangers perspective. Here are a few thoughts should excite Rangers fans going forward;
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One of the most frequently asked questions this offseason after, “is Rick Nash a Ranger yet?” has been, “who the heck is Kyle Jean?”
The answer is simple: he’s the latest gem uncovered by Gordie Clark and New York’s superior scouting staff, which has developed something of a Midas touch over the last couple of years.
It wasn’t long ago that the Rangers were completely incapable of even getting a high first-round pick right. But now, Clark and company are unearthing NHL caliber prospects not just through the draft’s later rounds, but even from the ranks of those that have long been completely ignored throughout their junior careers.
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This news broke yesterday, but it’s now official that the Rangers have signed prospect Kyle Jean. Jean was a non-roster invitee to the Rangers development camp, and clearly impressed the organization with the way he played in camp.
The 22-year old forward played the last two seasons with Lake Superior State in the CCHA, where he put together a total line of 13-25-36 in 77 games played. Prior to his college stint, Jean played in the NAHL for three seasons, where he put together a total line of 44-36-80 in 136 games.
Jean likely won’t make an NHL impact for a few years, but this is a key depth signing for the CT Whale, who were losing five forwards to free agency.