Ranger Prospect March Madness

A wild Friday night for the seven New York Ranger prospects who saw action. A combination of regular-season games and college conference playoffs saw possible additions to the Hartford Wolfpack either get closer to joining them or in the case of some extend their current season that much longer.

Tyler Wall stopped 31 out of 32 to lead his 12th-ranked UMass-Lowell River Hawks to a 3-1 win over the UConn Huskies. The win clinched third place in the Hockey East conference and home-ice advantage for the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.

Wall stopped 13 shots in the first period and in the second carrying a shutout into the third period but lost the shutout bid at 7:54. Wall would make eight saves in the third period as his regular-season career with the River Hawks comes to an end.

For Wall, the win improved his season record to 18-8-6, 2.10 goals against (tie 16th NCAA), and 0.931 save percentage (tie 8th NCAA). The win over UConn was Wall’s 58th career win, the most by a UMass-Lowell Division One goalie.

The River Hawks will host whoever earns the sixth seed in Hockey East. A fun fact for you is that the River Hawks have not played a road playoff game in the last eight years, they are the only team in the Hockey East who can make such a claim.

As for Wall, it is hard to see the Rangers not sign him to an NHL entry-level contract mainly because there is no such thing as having too many NHL quality goalies. Adam Huska has had his struggles at Hartford and Olof Lindbom hasn’t shown that he is ready to come over from Sweden.

I don’t see UMass-Lowell not making it to the Hockey East semifinals and if they do that then they would pretty much be a lock for the NCAA tournament. According to the College Hockey News and their Pairwise Probability Matrix, the River Hawks were 13th in Pairwise with a 58% chance of making the NCAAs.

And that was before they clinched third place and home ice for the first round. If the River Hawks lose sooner than the faster it will be for Wall to join the Wolfpack

K’Andre Miller (Wisconsin Badgers)

K’Andre Miller maybe just a college sophomore but if his Wisconsin Badgers play like they did in their 9-1 loss to 11th-ranked Ohio State then he will be leaving school by Monday. Horrible performance by the Badgers in game one of their Big Ten playoff series doesn’t need anything added to it.

I would bet the house that once Wisconsin loses their next game that Miller will announce that he is leaving school and turning pro. I would expect him to report to Hartford as soon as next Tuesday.

In my eyes, Miller and Wisconsin are a poor fit for each other. Why should Miller risk the next two seasons on a team that has a lot of rebuilding to do? The answer is he shouldn’t and given that he needs some polish to his skill set then why not start on it right away?

I think Kris Knoblauch will do more to prepare Miller for his eventual NHL career than the coaching staff at Wisconsin.

Tyler Nanne (Minnesota Golden Gophers)

Tyler Nanne’s college playing career is now just one loss away from ending after his Minnesota Golden Gophers dropped game one of their Big Ten playoff series to Notre Dame 1-0. Nanne didn’t record a shot on goal and had one blocked shot.

Minnesota needs a win on Saturday to force a game three on Sunday. The senior Nanne who was drafted by the Rangers in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft isn’t NHL material so it would be a miracle if he was offered any kind of pro contract by the Rangers.

If Glen Sather was still running the Rangers then I could see Sather giving Nanne an ATO so he could play a game or two with his cousin Vinnie Lettieri at Hartford. Both are grandchildren of former longtime NHL GM Lou Nanne.

Nanne had to overcome a heart ailment just to play college hockey is a great person and I hope he goes into coaching as he has a lot to offer the game.

Riley Hughes (Northeastern)

Riley Hughes was scoreless as his Northeastern Huskies lost to Boston University 3-0. Hughes was a -1 on two shots as his Huskies lost their fifth straight.

With just one game left in their Hockey East season, Northeastern is in eighth place of the Hockey East. Win on Saturday and the Huskies jump up to seventh place and into the playoffs. A loss and they will need help from Boston College defeating New Hampshire.

Hughes spent most of the season on Northeastern’s fourth line so he isn’t going anywhere after just his freshman season. He is a project that remains a long way away from even an AHL contract.

Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Matthew Robertson had a secondary assist on Edmonton’s final goal of the game as they defeated the Swift Current Broncos 4-1. For Robertson, the assist gives him a season total of 13-33-46 which pretty much assures him of being the leading prospect scorer in North America.

Robertson despite signing his ELC with the Rangers is not eligible to join the Wolfpack this year as he missed the cutoff birth date by nine days. His Oil Kings though are about to clinch home-ice advantage for the WHL’s Eastern Conference playoffs so it is doubtful that Robertson would have joined them anyway.

Hunter Skinner was scoreless as his London Knights won their fifth straight 4-1 over the Sarnia Sting. Skinner was credited with five shots on goal and had a high-sticking minor for the game.

Now because the Rangers drafted Skinner while he was intending to attend Western Michigan, Skinner is eligible to sign an ATO and join the Wolf Pack. But London has the second-best record in the OHL, it is hard to see Skinner’s season coming to an end in time to join the Wolf Pack.

Nico Gross had a primary assist but his Oshawa Generals lost via the shootout to the Guelph Storm 4-3. Gross earned his assist on Oshawa’s first goal as he has been on an assist binge with 10 assists in his last 10 games.

Overall Gross is 9-24-33 in 52 games this season. This is his second year as a Ranger’s draft pick but right now it is a question mark whether the Rangers will sign him or not.

I think given the depth at the position, I just don’t see the Rangers signing him to an NHL ELC.

Waiting Their Turn

Morgan Barron and top-ranked Cornell along with Simon Kjellberg and Rensselaer got to enjoy the week off after earning first-round byes in the ECAC playoffs. Cornell (first seed) and Rensselaer (fourth seed) will begin playoff play next Friday against teams to be determined.

Zac Jones and his ninth-ranked Massachusetts Minutemen finished their regular season on Thursday clinching second in the Hockey East. They will have home-ice and will host whoever the seventh seed in the Hockey East is.

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