Obviously we have no idea yet whether there will be a 2012/13 NHL season starting on time, a training camp or a pre-season. Hey, right now we have no idea whether there will be regular season play at all. Regardless, there are plenty of prospects in the organisation that offer legitimate intrigue. Whether they will be fighting for NHL jobs, making waves with the Connecticut Whale or sent back to junior/college there is still plenty to keep an eye on. A few intrigue me more than others.
With Tim Erixon traded, eternal patient Michael Sauer still hurt and Dylan McIlrath doing his best to provide Sauer with some company in the treatment room the Rangers defensive depth looks shakier – both short and long term – than it had done just six months ago; all this despite an envious top four at the NHL level. Enter Skjei.
Unfortunately for Skjei, the aforementioned issues at the defense position for the Rangers may mean more of a spotlight shining on the Wisconsin prospect than he may have hoped/expected. Thanks to a promising evaluation camp for Team USA this summer, many eyes will be on Skjei to see how he develops within the powerhouse Wisconsin programme.
Skjei is possibly the most important prospect in the entire organisation – assuming you take it for granted that Chris Kreider has ‘graduated’ to the Rangers full time. The Rangers need Skjei to develop well. Not just because he’s a first round pick but because the club need some defensive prospects to step up in the near future. His season will be interesting to follow.
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Before Friday’s draft it’s a good idea to take stock of what the Rangers already have in the system. If New York follows suit, then the Blueshirts will pick the best player available regardless of position. However, it’s worth evaluating where the team’s strengths lie. Kevin evaluated the forwards, so let’s look at the defense.
Erixon has been met with a lot of hype since the Rangers stole him (along with what turned out to be Shane McColgan) from Calgary for two second round picks and Roman Horak last year. After two successful seasons with Skelleftea HC in the SEL, Erixon came over to the NHL and was expected to make the club without any time in the AHL, which is exactly what happened. That said, Erixon struggled during his first NHL stint in October, finishing with no points and a -3 rating in nine games before being sent to the Connecticut Whale. Those nine games would be Erixon’s longest stint with the big club, but all was not lost. Erixon dominated the AHL, finishing with 33 points (3-30-33) in 42 games). The Swede is as NHL ready as you can get. Barring a major setback, he should be a Ranger next fall.
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Per Laurie Carr of Beyond the Blueshirts (side note: If you don’t follow her on Twitter or read her blog, you’re missing out), Rangers defensive prospect Mikhail Pashnin is headed from CSKA to Yaroslavl in the KHL, in an attempt to rebuild the franchise that was devastated by a plane crash in September that killed the entire team.
Carr, citing Pashnin’s agent Alexei Dementiev, explains how the rebuilding of Yaroslavl has been taking place:
After the tragedy in occured in Yaroslavl, KHL teams adopted a “road map” with regards to restoration of the team in the Russian league. Each club has been given the opportunity to protect two players born between 1989 and 1994. Mikhail wasn’t among this number, because CSKA has a large number of promising young players, and Lokomotiv was interested in his services. Negotiations lasted a long time, but in the end he decided that he would move to the Yaroslavl team.
Pashnin was not protected by CSKA, and Locomotiv selected the former #1 overall pick of the KHL draft, and the Rangers 7th round pick in the 2009 draft.
Pashnin was rumored to be signing with the Rangers this past offseason, but instead inked a two year deal with CSKA, after some convincing from Slava Fetisov. Although Pasnin was looked on as an important piece for CSKA, he will have an even bigger role with Yaroslavl. Carr states that he will be looked upon as a leader, and this could significantly accelerate his development into a viable asset in the Rangers organization.
Per Laurie Carr, who does a fantastic job of keeping track of the Rangers prospects, Rangers 2009 7th round pick Mikhail Pashnin will not be coming to North America this year. In fact, he won’t be here next year either. Pashnin has signed a two year contract extension with CSKA Moscow, ensuring that the defenseman will remain in Russia and with the KHL for at least two more seasons.
This news refutes the initial report a few weeks ago that Pashnin will be coming to North America. However, this should not be a surprise, as Laurie stated as recently as Saturday that Pashnin was having second thoughts.
Pashnin will be 24 when his contract with CSKA expires. Considering the defensive depth on the Rangers currently and in the system, it is understandable that Pashnin wanted to remain home and receive guaranteed playing time. Also, the money provided to him in the KHL is likely to be overwhelmingly more than he would receive playing in the AHL.
It looks like Pashnin won’t be coming over unless he is guaranteed a spot on an NHL roster, which the Rangers cannot do right now. Unless something drastic happens, it doesn’t look like the Rangers will ever be able to guarantee a prospect a roster spot, considering the extensive depth in the system. Now we know why the #1 overall pick in the KHL draft can drop to the 7th round in the NHL draft. It’s not skill related, it’s transfer related.
Laurie Carr at Beyond the Blueshirts has the latest update on Mikhail Pashnin, the Rangers 7th round pick (#200 overall) in 2009, which clarifies some information provided a few weeks ago. It was initially believed that Pashnin would be coming to North America no matter what, and would likely play his first North American season in the AHL with the CT Whale this year. Laurie, translating an interview with Pashnin, states that no decision has been made yet.
Maybe having one of the greatest defenseman in your country’s history tell the press you’re making a mistake is enough to give one pause. Or maybe the New York Rangers aren’t offering the kind of contract Mikhail Pashnin and his agent were hoping for. Either way, it appears Pashnin’s signing with the club that made him the 200th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft may not be as imminent as it once seemed.
There are two things that catch my attention here, other than Pashnin having second thoughts.
The first is that phrase “one of the greatest defensemen in your country’s history”. That says a lot about Pashnin, considering Sergei Zubov is considered to be one of the best –if not, the best– Russian defensemen ever. That’s one big statement right there. Apparently I don’t know how to read. The article is referring to Slava Fetisov calling out Pashnin, not Pashning having potential to be one of the best. This is what happens when you write after midnight.
The second thing is the obvious one, that Pashnin is considering changing his mind. You can’t blame the kid really, he’s 22 and the adjustment from Russia to the US is very difficult. There is a language barrier, he would be an entire hemisphere away from his country and family, and it isn’t even guaranteed that he would play in the NHL. In fact, it is very unlikely that he would sniff NHL time this season.
The Rangers want Pashnin in the system right away so they can figure out what they have in him. It is also better for his development to start adjusting to the smaller rink of the North American game. The KHL isn’t necessarily a bad league, but the AHL would give him a greater opportunity to hone his skills against future NHL players.
For now, it looks like he will at least be in New York for camp, and maybe the Traverse City tournament. I’m sure he is going to play out camp and preseason, and make his decision then.
As per Laurie Carr, Rangers prospect Mikhail Pashnin will play in North America this year, likely in the AHL with the CT Whale. Pashnin, the Rangers 7th round pick (#200) in the 2009 draft, is a defensive defenseman who plays bigger than his 5’11, 190 lb frame. Don’t let the late draft pick fool you, he was the first overall pick in the KHL draft that same year. He fell so far in the draft because he was obliged to the KHL for a few seasons after his NHL draft year. Sometimes good things come to those who wait.
Pashnin is a stay at home guy who won’t wow you with his point production, but he will wow you his physical presence for such a small frame. The kid is tough as nails, and for those wanting to see an end to the constant run-ins of the opposition with Henrik Lundqvist, Pashnin will surely help to put an end to that. Having played in the KHL, he is likely to be more polished than some of the other prospects, but will help solidify a solid blue line with Pavel Valentenko and Tomas Kundratek leading the way.
Also, expect Wade Redden to bring him under his wing, like he did with so many prospects last season. You may laugh at that statement, but Redden has done wonders for the defensive prospects.