Saturday, July 27, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: New York Rangers

Off to Broadway, as the New York Rangers are next on the list.

Tommy Hughes - London Knights
Hughes is the first of two overage signings that the Rangers made this season. He's definitely an unheralded member of the Knights, but has a skill set that could transfer well to the NHL level. Offensively, there's not much to speak of. He plays a very safe game and is a pure stay at home defender. He'll elect to pass off to his defensive partner most times if there is no pressure, rather than skate it/pass it out himself. But, he's not a turnover machine in his own end and can handle the puck when required to. It's his defensive skills that got him noticed. He's a big guy but skates quite well. His defensive positioning is top notch. You'll rarely see him get beat one on one and he's certainly not afraid to use his size in the defensive end. The fact that he also wore a letter in London this year speaks volumes about his character. The upside isn't much and he'll likely toil in the minors for a few years before getting a shot, but he could certainly develop into a solid 5-6/PK guy for the Rangers. I wouldn't even be surprised if he sees time in the ECHL this year, given the Rangers depth at the position (organizationally).

Michael Kantor - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Going into the season, I thought he was going to be one of the more coveted overage free agents. But he had a pretty disappointing year. He battled injuries (mostly a facial injury from blocking a slapshot) and failed to find a groove offensively. He's still an interesting prospect for the Rags to sign. He entered the OHL as an enforcer but his skill with the puck really developed over the course of his OHL career. He'll surprise you with his overall skill level. He's got some decent speed and he can make defenseman miss if they try to play him too aggressively. But his offensive hockey sense isn't terrific so it doesn't translate to serious numbers on the score sheet. His career in the NHL will be made by his ability to drop his gloves, throw checks, and work the forecheck. There's no doubt that his ticket is in an energy role. Like Hughes, I'd expect Kantor to start in the ECHL and maybe work his way up to the AHL level. I wouldn't expect much in the way of offensive numbers until he gets used to the speed of the pro game.

*of note, the Rangers chose not to sign Peter Ceresnak, making him a free agent.