Yes, the Baby Rangers did lose 6-2 in their opening-round game of the 2019 Traverse City Prospects Tournament. But was it a horrible disaster of a loss as some are freaking out over? No, if anything this might be the right kind of loss for this group of prospects.
Come Saturday morning when those very Baby Rangers assemble for practice, they will have hopefully learned some very valuable lessons. The first lesson they hopefully will have learned is that any dreams of making it to the NHL are going to require more hard work than they might have imagined.
Those dreams about walking in and just making the team will have gotten a huge reality check. If they thought they worked hard at the junior/European level, their eyes we hope will have gotten opened big time. For some, they might have discovered that they are no longer the very best players on the team like they were on previous teams.
The second lesson they hopefully will have learned is that they need each other in order to make the first lesson possible. That playing as individuals no matter how talented they may think they are will not turn them into winners, We might not even see here it but if the seeds of team chemistry are planted here then tomorrow’s future will be brighter.
The third lesson (this one the fans need to learn too) they hopefully will have learned is to forget the hype about the Rangers having the best prospect pool in the NHL. Maybe all this nonsense about the Rangers having the best prospect pool will stop and it won’t be a bad thing if many of them have to spend time in Hartford.
At the same time please stop with the “these kids are overrated” as they aren’t. Here is your reality and that 90% of these players are still teenagers. Please stop expecting them to just show up and start on the first or second-line without giving them a chance to develop naturally.
The speed of the NHL is nothing like any of them have seen before which is why playing in this kind of tournament is truly a great idea. They are going to discover things that the coaching staff/player development folks preached to them are so very true.
We will see just how coachable this group is by the time they take the ice at 7 PM against the Dallas Stars Prospects. Hopefully, these prospects will absorb every single word the Rangers staff offers them during the Saturday AM practice.
The now more realistic goal for this squad is to show improvement in each of the three remaining games this squad has.
Now for the fans maybe some reality will have brought them back to earth about their expectations of these prospects. Look we all want to see these prospects make it as it does represent a better future for the Rangers if they do.
But they haven’t even been together for more than two practices as a unit and they are most likely the youngest squad at this year’s tournament. Many of them got a hard lesson about the speed of the game even at this level.
Yes, it was a sloppy ugly game but it was for many of them the first game they have played in months. It would be like asking the adult Rangers to show up have two quick practices and then asking them to play against teams that had a month to prepare.
Just wait until these kids discover what the main training camp will be like. I can’t tell you how many prospects came back from an NHL training camp shocked at the speed the game is played at. For those who played on adult teams in Europe, this must-have blown their minds.
Still, I for one am not going to read way too much into this loss. Saturday is another day and this squad still has three games left to play before they head to the main training camp.