Monday, July 28, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - New York Rangers

Off to the Big Apple, where they have few prospects playing in the OHL.

Troy Donnay - Erie Otters
Donnay is coming off a very solid 4th season in the OHL. For the vast majority of the season he partnered with the young Travis Dermott, a pairing which many Otters' fans probably would have considered Erie's top and most consistant pairing. Donnay also saw a ton of work shorthanded. I felt like he gained a lot of confidence in his puck skill this year, making crisper breakout passes and doing a better job fighting off forecheckers to make good plays. He's no offensive defenseman, but being able to make quicker decisions in his own end was an area that needed improvement previously. Defensively, I thought he played significantly meaner this year, finally using his 6'7 frame to push people around in the corners and in front of the net. I think by nature, he's still more of a positional guy who prefers to keep forwards honest with his long reach, but it was good to see him be more assertive too. Next year Donnay will have the opportunity to turn pro, which is what I expect will happen. Whether that means playing in Hartford or the ECHL remains the be seen. He remains a project, as he'll take him to adjust the pro game but he does have potential to be a reliable third pairing guy in the NHL.

Brandon Halverson - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
It was no surprise to see Halverson come off the draft board early in 2014, despite having played very little this past year. Off course, the Hounds rode veteran Matt Murray, a Penguins draft pick. Next year, Murray will be turning pro and it will be Halverson's show to run. And I know the Sault Ste. Marie organization has a ton of confidence in him. He's a super big kid who is still learning to properly use his size (challenging shooters, working angles, etc), but he got a lot better from the start of the OHL season to the end. The most noticeable component to his game is his ability to handle the puck. He really helps out his defense and has a ton of confidence making passes. Next year, Sault Ste. Marie should be good yet again and I expect Halverson will be central to that.

*Of note, 4th rounder Ryan Mantha has signed with the Niagara IceDogs and will be suiting up for them next year. They have a young, but deep defense so it will be tough for Mantha to crack into the top 4. But he should see some power play time if he's able to show competence in those situations.

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