The New York Rangers began play at the Traverse City prospects tournament two days ago where a handful of NHL teams send a team of prospects in the hope to gauge how ready their prospects are.
The Baby Blueshirts have played two games so far going up against the Carolina Hurricanes and Atlanta Thrashers, finishing the first two games with a 1-1 record.
Game 1 was a 5-3 loss to the Hurricanes where 2009 draftee Scott Stajcer started in net for the Rangers, giving up four goals. However, he played a solid enough game that allowed the Rangers to get even as fellow 2009 draftees Roman Horak and Ryan Bourque both scored quick to knot it all up in the third period. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes got a late goal and added an empty netter at the end to finish New York off 5-3.
Game 2 was a much more successful affair for the Blueshirts as they took on Evander Kane and the Atlanta Thrashers in a game New York needed to win if they wanted a chance at winning the whole tournament. Despite going down a goal early, the Rangers were able to roar back as Sam Klassen, Evgeny Grachev, Tomas Kundratek, and Dale Weise all scored to lead the Rangers to victory.
Chad Johnson, who was acquired from Pittsburgh at the 2009 Draft started in net for the Rangers and made 28 saves for the team's first win at the tournament.
If New York wants to have a shot at the tournament title, they will need to win their game against Detroit on Wednesday while Carolina will need to lose. The Ranger scouting staff has been very impressed so far with the 2009 draft class in the tournament and are hoping they will continue to lead the team to wins.
Also impressing the Ranger brass are two 2008 draftees in Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev. Both had great years in the OHL this past season and are close to being NHL ready. New York was hoping for Del Zotto to focus more on his defensive play and he certainly has shown he has improved.
Grachev had an explosive year in the OHL and the Rangers expect him to become a scoring winger in the future. Despite only one goal in the tournament so far, the Rangers have been impressed with the way he has created room for himself, with Ranger Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark going as far to say that Grachev has been a "dominating force".
Grachev and the rest of the Baby Blueshirts will need to build on the momentum and confidence they got against Atlanta if they want to defeat a tough Detroit squad tomorrow. Look back here after the last game for a wrap up of the last few days. Click here and here to go to recaps of each game so far.
Also do not forget that training camp starts on the 12th with the first game on September 15th. Hockey is almost here folks. Start getting those jerseys out.