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Adam Huska

Traverse City Is Not Meaningless

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Wow from the moment the New York Rangers fail to make the playoffs until say yesterday, all folks would talk about was the prospects, the prospects, and the prospects. But all of a sudden I start seeing people call Traverse City a meaningless event and that ticks me off. Why? Well because it is so far from the truth.

Ryan Dmowski (Hartford Wolf Pack)

Look I understand the people are excited for the start of training camp and the new season, I am too. But Traverse City should be seen as the beginning of training camp, not a distraction to kill time until camp opens.

Traverse City has become a very important part of the Ranger year that to dismiss it as “meaningless” shows how little a person understands the role of player development. For the Rangers, it starts with the Rookie and Prospect Camp held right after the NHL Entry Draft. It is at that camp where every prospect is given their off-season “homework” to start them on their off-season work.

Each prospect is given a program designed for them individually from a workout program, suggested changes to their diet and areas to improve their overall hockey game. So when Traverse City comes, it is a chance for the coaching staff as well as the player development staff to see how well the prospects followed their “homework”.

Traverse City is also an opportunity for the staff to show the prospects the “who, what, when and why” of their programs. From giving tomorrow’s Rangers a chance to bond and form friendships to the on-ice measurement of how well these prospects have improved. Just watching the setup that Kaapo Kakko did for Vitali Kravtsov against the Minnesota Wild prospects hopefully is that start of chemistry the two first-round picks will develop.

Come Thursday there will be as many as 60 players invited to the training camp and it will be next to impossible for the coaching staff or player development team to offer the kind of individual coaching that they can do at Traverse City.

It isn’t meaningless or a distraction from training camp, it is the start of tomorrow for the Rangers.

Three Wins Plus

Karl Henriksson(Hockeydb.com)

By defeating the St. Louis Blues prospects for the fifth-place trophy, the Ranger prospects finished with a 3-1 record at this year’s tournament. Considering that the difference from playing in the championship game to the fifth-place one was a weak opening game then call this year a success. For a team that had all of two players returning from last year’s team as well as the youngest and most inexperienced then to win three games was outstanding.

Against the Blues, the Rangers choose to sit out Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, Adam Fox, and Yegor Rykov but it mattered little. Adam Huska stopped 34 out of 37 shots to earn his second win of the tournament. Ryan Dmowski recorded his team-best third goal while Karl Henriksson added his team-leading fourth assist in the win.

Adam Huska finished with the third-best save percentage (0.892), fifth-best goals against (3.50) and tied with several others for second in wins (2). Ryan Dmowski was seventh in goals (4), Karl Henriksson tied for third in assists (4), and Adam Fox, Vitali Kravtsov, and Karl Henriksson tied for sixth in points (5).

The Rangers who have traditionally struggled to find offense at Traverse City got points from 16 out of the 20 skaters and goals from 12. As a team, they finished fourth on the power play (4 for 15, 26.67%) and first on the penalty kill (1 for 13 92.31%). With three straight wins after dropping their opening game, the Rangers tied for longest win streak (3) with Detroit.

Want to keep going with the stats? Then try third best for shot percentage (17.8%) and fifth in save percentage (0.860), third in goals scored (18), fifth in goals allowed (16) and third in shots stopped (98).

Overall when you take everything into consideration then this year’s Traverse City squad was a winner and showed a lot of promise.

Now we can move on to training camp.

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Adam Fox’s Five Point Game Leads Prospect Win

Adam Fox (Robert Sabo)

It may have been just one game but boy did Adam Fox make it look like Jeff Gorton got a steal from the Carolina Hurricanes.  Fox had a five-point game (2-3-5) with the game-winning goal as the Baby Rangers earned a 7-4 win over the Baby Dallas Stars.

Five different goal scorers and ten total players with points as the team bounced back from Friday’s 6-2 loss.  Adam Huska stopped 24 of 28 shots as the team evened their record at 1-1.  Hartford-bound left-wing Ryan Dmowski added two goals while 2018 first-round pick Vitali Kravtsov had two assists.

The Baby Rangers also got goals from Yegor Rykov, Matthew Robertson and Karl Henriksson as the compete level was better overall from the team. No Kaapo Kakko for this game as he recovers from the flu.

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Not a perfect game as there remains a need for serious improvement among the team defense, giving up way too many odd-man rushes. Still, the improvement was there and so was the stepping up from the Rangers top prospects. This game should go a long way in silencing the critics of these prospects but seriously why anyone doesn’t like the quality of this squad remains mindboggling.

Got to show this goal from Karl Henriksson as he tips in an Adam Fox point shot in the first period.

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This has been a huge missing element from the Rangers offense from both the point shot that was dead on to Henriksson’s setting up in the slot and tip-in. And to think Henriksson is all of 5’9 176 so I would keep this and show it to the returning veterans when training camp opens. Really wish Henriksson was willing to stay in North America and play in the CHL this season as it would help speed up his development.

Off day on Sunday before the team returns to play on Monday against the Baby Minnesota Wild.