Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stealth Loses Top Prospect

Blake WheelerIn a move that was not surprising, top prospect Blake Wheeler, a 6'4" 200 pound forward from the University of Minnesota has signed with the Boston Bruins. The reason? Wheeler liked the Bruins youth movement in general and particularly the way they handled rookies David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Mark Stevens. Supposedly twenty teams including the Rangers were hot after Wheeler's body but he chose to dance with the Bruins. Wheeler is all of 20 years old.

David Krejci, 22 years old, had 27 points in 77 regular games and played all seven Bruin playoff games scoring 5 points. Milan Luci, 20 years old, had 27 points in 77 regular games and two goals in seven playoff games. Mark Stuart, 24 years old, a defenseman, got 8 points in all 82 games and one point in his seven playoff games. The thing to look at here is that these guys played meaningful ice time.

Perhaps Wheeler, who had 42 goals, 54 assists and 96 points in 127 games for the University of Minnesota, took a look at the Ranger record of how they treat their young players and decided that coach clueless's conservative, defensive approach to the game was not for him. Perhaps he took a look at what has happened to young players like Prucha, Dawes, Callahan and Baranka, who is going to Russia, and he decide to go with a forward, young looking team rather than one being Czech mated to its past. Perhaps he knew that a long stint to Hrtford was in the cards for him to 'develop' into a Ranger and that did not excite him. Perhaps!

Before you all bombard me with how coach clueless 'developed' young players like Dubinsky and Staal, let me remind you that coach clueless was forced into moving both into key slots due to the inability of some of his vets to perform and the inability of clueless to know and understand what he had. This is the first shot of what promises to be a very disappointing off season if the Stealth GM pursues in his attempt to sign Jagr and disregards the spine of the team, Sean Avery. Let the games begin.

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  • jb said...

    The Blueshirt Bulletin is referring to Sather as the "the tortoise GM" apparently because he's been slow to make a decision on Jagr. You have to wonder if Sather is flip-flopping day-to-day on his opinion of keeping Jagr? I'll start calling him Mr. Dithers.

  • blow-me-down said...

    I found out a bit more about him over the last week or so. I'm sure the Rangers organization did what they could, but hats off to Blake for being smart enough to pick the Bruins. I only say that because the Bruins have, and are, proving that they play their young players. While it is premature to guess at Mr. Wheeler's impact in the NHL, I think he picked a team that will give him a very good chance.

    Damn them Bruins!!

  • blow-me-down said...

    I have to add that Blake probably did a fair bit of research, and consulted some knowledgeable hockey people.
    Remember Tomas Pock? Seems to me he didn't look all that bad in the very few games I got to see him in a couple of years ago. Apparently, he has been banished, he's been disappeared. Kind of like the Twilight Zone, though it was more fun when Rod Serling was involved!

  • Section 335 said...

    My guess on the Jagr situation is that Sather is delaying while he is looking to put a deal together. He cannot do a deal for a $6-7 million dollar player (trade or free agent)and have money for Jagr (unless he pays Jagr in 2009 money).

  • jb said...

    Thomas Pöck's career stats show a downward slide over the last few season. A couple of years ago he was one of their most promising defensemen. Hartford has become a blackhole for many promising Rangers prospects. Does that town have a bad hockey mojo? The Wolf Pack's playoff performance has deteriorated the last two season. Doesn't look like a good omen for the big club.

  • blow-me-down said...

    jb - Thank you for the link to Pock's stats. Too bad, because for a while I thought he was going to make it.
    It does underline how difficult it can be to make the jump as a young player, they not only have to elevate their game but also hope they are in the right place at the right time. In Wheeler's case, he can't ask for more than being able to pick his team.

  • mike said...

    Under the "leadership" of the Stealth and Schoenfeld the Hartford Wolfpack have become a graveyard for young players and a non entity as an AHL playoff contender.

    Thomas Pock is the poster boy for the incompetence of coach clueless. After scoring three points in a four game sweep of Atlanta in the 2006-07 playoffs he was benched for one of the Stealth's boys, Rachunuk, as the Rangers were eliminated by the Sabres.

    Pock also made the mistake of signing a two year deal with the Rangers rather than test free agency. He may be two years too late.

    Wheeler was probably aware of all this and made the right move in going to a youth oriented team rather than a bunch of over the hill vets.

  • blow-me-down said...

    I remember posting something on the old New York Times discussion group a while back about how I found the Rangers to be very tentative about bringing up talent and getting them going. I couldn't figure it out at all. There was discussion about the scouting being pretty good, which I would mostly agree with. But it still left me wondering what was happening on the ice.
    I know what it is now. As a young player, you can lose all your chops, and more importantly your confidence, waiting for a chance to actually show what you can do. Dubinsky is doing okay, somehow he has passed through that microscopic filter used by NYR that can as easily relegate a talented player to the scrap heap as find him a spot in the big picture. As much as I never liked New Jersey Devils and their style of play, at least they already knew when they brought a player up that the player was very close to being on the big team, and the odds were fairly good that he was a fit. He would not even have been in their system any longer if that was not the case. The Devils aren't perfect, but they are a good example of an organization that knows how to put a team together. It seems Detroit cannot stop putting on a clinic on how to do things right.

    With the Rangers over the last bunch of years, it's like some high school tryout and you hope the coach is in a good mood and likes you. A year or two, or three in Hartford, come up, make an appearance and be disappeared. It does show some signs of being better. If Dubinsky ever gets shafted, it should be torches and pitchforks to MSG. He is getting ice time, so hopefully a precedent has been set.

    Renney is still not a good bench boss, and I do not trust him to manage talent that is given to him.

  • jb said...

    Regarding the development of young players. I would like to look over the Rangers entry level draft selections for the last 5-6 years and see how they have panned out.

    The first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft will begin Friday evening at 7 p.m. (et) and rounds 2-7 will start on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. The entire first-round order is as follows:

    1. Tampa Bay; 2. Los Angeles; 3. Atlanta; 4. St. Louis; 5. NY Islanders; 6. Columbus; 7. Toronto; 8. Phoenix; 9. Nashville (from FLA); 10. Vancouver; 11. Chicago; 12. Anaheim (from EDM); 13. Buffalo; 14. Carolina; 15. Nashville; 16. Boston; 17. Calgary; 18. Ottawa; 19. Columbus (from COL); 20. NY Rangers; 21. New Jersey; 22. Edmonton (from ANA); 23. Washington; 24. Minnesota; 25. Montreal; 26. Buffalo (from SJS) 27. Philadelphia; 28. Los Angeles (from DAL); 29. Atlanta (from PIT); 30. Detroit