Monday, August 1, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - New York Rangers

The New York Rangers are next.

1. Brandon Halverson - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Halverson had an up and down season with the Greyhounds this year. His play wavered and consistency was an issue all season long. Couple weeks off, couple weeks on. For a player, playing in his 20 year old (and likely final) OHL season, I think that you would have hoped he'd been better, especially given it was his 2nd year as an OHL starter too. There's a reason that the Rangers signed him though. 6'4 and definitely athletic, Halverson continues to flash excellent NHL potential. It's his positioning and aggressiveness in using said size that continue to hurt him. He still has a tendency to overcommit on his angles, or get caught too deep in his net. But he has the athleticism to recover and just needs to refine his approach. He'll start his pro career this year and it looks like he'll have to battle Mackenzie Skapski for the backup job in Hartford behind Magnus Hellberg. Probably safe to assume he'll see some time in the ECHL and the AHL this year. I'd expect him to struggle a bit in his first pro year as he continues to work out the aforementioned issues.

2. Sean Day - Mississauga Steelheads
Safe to say that most people are pretty familiar with Day by now. And most are also familiar with the fact that this past season didn't go exceptionally well for him. This year it came out that he had some family issues affecting him (with his brother), and it helped to shed some light on the motivation issues that seem to plague him. I thought his game really turned a corner late in the year (maybe the last month, two months). A lot of that had to do with how he had upped his physical play in the defensive end. That's going to be key to his development moving forward. A defender with his size and mobility, if he can be a dominant physical player too, he could develop into a very good defensive player. Offensively, the skating remains an asset. But I'm just not convinced he's a natural offensive player (in terms of vision, hockey sense, confidence, etc). But I know others believe that the ceiling is super high offensively. IMO, I'd look at a guy like Tim Gleason as a good (best case scenario). But, again, I know others believe the upside is much higher. Next year, I don't really know what to expect. Mississauga is aiming to be a top team in the Conference. But they've got a log jam on the back end and could use some of that surplus to acquire a top 6 forward. Day has long been rumoured as a trade target, so it's certainly possible that he could be the guy dealt. Either way, I'm guessing he'll have a better draft year +1 season. If he can get his offensive production back up to his sophomore year (35+ points), in addition to continuing to be a strong, physical defender, that would be a great step forward IMO.

3. Tim Gettinger - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The Rangers drafted a player who has among the highest potential of any player drafted outside the 3rd round IMO. Gettinger has a tantalizing skill set. For starters, he's 6'6. Secondly, he's a terrific skater with a long, powerful stride which allows him to really glide up ice. But everything else is a work in progress. He has great hands, but he doesn't really have a grasp of the way he should be playing. Has a tendency to have tunnel vision off the rush and needs to utilize his teammates better. At the same time, he needs to be more aggressive in driving the net and being comfortable near the crease. Overall, he's just not as effective as he should be in traffic. Part of that is strength, but part of it is certainly personal choice. If he can figure out how to use his size offensively and round out his game, this is a guy who could be an absolutely terrific pro hockey player. Next year is a really big year for his development IMO. The Greyhounds have incredible depth at the forward position and if he's not careful, he could really see himself slide down the depth chart. At the same time, if he comes to camp and works hard, he could slide right up onto the team's first line and top powerplay unit. I do have a long term belief in this player and as such, I'm going to predict a breakout year. I'm going to say that he scores 30 and is close to a point per game player.

4. Daniel Bernhardt - London Knights
Came over half way through the year to join the Knights and had a hard time breaking into the lineup full time. London, of course, went on to win the Memorial Cup and the depth of their lineup was fantastic. He was utilized on the team's 3rd and 4th lines when he played and did provide some energy, displaying some good speed off the rush and a desire to drive the net down the wing. But he seemed to be out of place in the role he was asked to play IMO. Not really a physical player, nor a guy who is active on the forecheck. As such, it was hard for him to be noticeable IMO. His OHL career is already done as he'll head back to Sweden next year. At least he now has a good idea of what playing in North America is going to be like. Probably too early to form a definitive opinion on him as an NHL prospect. At this point, he seems like a long shot to earn a contract through.

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