The Rangers’ progression in recent years and the foundations for future successes have, in part, been built through prospect development and the presence of a good farm system. For a while now, Hockey’s Future have rated the Rangers’ prospect pipeline highly. A lot of that passes through the Connecticut Whale and the AHL.
Brian Ring, on behalf of the Whale – for the second time – has kindly agreed to answer some questions for us about the Whale and in particular some of the Rangers’ prospects expected to see ice time on the farm. Here’s part one of the latest Q&A series, focussing on a few of the young players that may (or may not) be with the Whale this season.
- The CT Whale promise to be much changed this coming season. Which forward do you expect a breakout offensive season from?
Brian: Carl Hagelin. The team figures to have some offensive depth, and should Hagelin not make the Rangers this season it would seem that he’s set up to have a very nice year given his skill set.
- Regarding Tommy Grant; following a solid college career Tommy had an equally solid yet brief stint last season with the Whale, leading to a professional contract. What can Rangers fans expect from Tommy?
Brian: With Tommy Grant, I think fans could expect a two-way player that isn’t afraid to get in the dirty areas of the ice. He has decent size and quite a bit of skill, and as you mentioned he spent four years in college for Alaska-Anchorage and will be more seasoned than some players in the AHL this season. I think he’s a good candidate to put up some real numbers this year.
- Another player that had a brief cameo with the Whale last year was Andrew Yogan. Despite his trade within the OHL, do you expect Andrew to be a Whale player and if so, what impact over a full season can be reasonably expected?
Brian: I think it depends on if the Rangers end up taking Hagelin or Bourque with them out of camp, right now looking at a depth chart of potential forwards in Connecticut it doesn’t look like there will be room for Yogan. That is not a slight on Yogan, he is a very skilled and talented young player, but I think the extra year of over-age eligibility might hurt his chances of playing for the Whale this season. If he does end up here, he certainly didn’t look out of place with two goals in his first pro game, and he totalled three points total in just two games. I think he would fit in quite well here
- What hopes to do the two organisations (NYR and CT) have for relative unknown (at least to most fans), Kelsey Tessier?
Brian: While not the biggest guy on the ice, Tessier raised some eyebrows with a pretty impressive rookie season (10-18-28 in 75 games). He is a smart player that sees the ice well and despite the fact he is smaller than most of the other players out there, he plays very hard and competes at a high level every night. Tessier can certainly be an asset in Connecticut as a third or fourth line energy player and could maybe even play the same role in New York one day.
- Wade Redden aside (assuming he starts the year, still a member of the organisation); who will be counted on for leadership in Connecticut this coming season and why?
Brian: The team has been lucky to have a healthy locker room culture where everyone seems to do their part to push each other and be supportive. But returning alternate captains Jared Nightingale and Kris Newbury are both guys that will be respected leaders, Brendan Bell, should he be here has a ton of experience too. But again, I think everyone takes it upon themselves to be a leader and a motivator on the ice and in the room.
Once again, a big thank you to both Brian Ring and the CT Whale for participating with the Q&A. It’s always interesting to hear insight from ‘within the system’. Be sure to follow both Brian and the Whale on twitter at @brianring and @CTWhale. Be sure to check back later this week for the next part of the Q&A where we discuss even more prospects and the CT Whale’s upcoming season.