Wolf Pack Begin Rebuild Thanks to Gorton’s Moves
The off-season and free agency have been off to a strong start for the organization. Jeff Gorton is restocking and rebuilding the prospect pool while improving the Rangers themselves. The upcoming season looks promising in Hartford with two strong signings for the American Hockey League club. The addition of Kevin Shattenkirk provided more depth in the organization as well.
The Kevin Shattenkirk Impact
Kevin Shattenkirk returns home to New York on the first day of free agency. He should provide phenomenal defense for the Rangers, but what is unknown is his impact on the blue line regarding the young defensemen in the Rangers system.
Currently, the organization has Sergey Zborovskiy, Calle Sjalin, Anthony DeAngelo, Tarmo Reunanen, Vince Pedrie, Tyler Nanne, Ryan Graves, John Gilmour, Sean Day, Brandon Crawley, and Alexei Bereglazov with the minor league clubs. And a few of the guys in this list will compete for a potential spot in Hartford.
But since Kevin Shattenkirk joined the team, there probably won’t be any available spots for the defensive prospects in New York. But, this does allow their prospects to develop for a year down in the minors, and then if ready, can make the jump next season.
From a developmental standpoint, friendly competition is great to develop prospects. The bar would rise and each player will have to up their game. The blue line would become packed in the system, especially in Hartford. None of these guys want to be sent packing from Hartford, so the battles on the back end should be intense during training camp.
New York Signs Two Impressive Forwards
On the first day of free agency, Jeff Gorton wasted no time in helping his team in Hartford. He signed forwards Paul Carey (No relation to Matt Carey of Hartford or Greg Carey of Lehigh Valley) and Cole Schneider to one year, two-way deals. Both players last season provided a strong offensive punch to their respective AHL clubs. Hartford now has two experienced veteran players. These signings Nicklas Jensen will have help to produce offense as well.
Paul Carey (24 goals, 31 assists for 55 points in 55 games with the Hershey Bears in the 2016-17 season)
Paul Carey is a 28-year-old forward with strong experience in the American Hockey League. He joins Hartford after spending two seasons in Hershey and joined the Washington Capitals for brief stints in the NHL for a total of eleven games with the club. Last season, Carey made some strides offensively. He impressed me on March 18th, 2017 as he recorded four goals against Hartford. He was noticeable in each game in the series between Hershey and Hartford. Carey is not afraid to make plays, especially on the power play. He is a well rounded player who can score and assist. His veteran presence will guide the prospects in situations throughout the season on how to successfully tackle problems.
Cole Schneider (24 goals, 39 assists for 63 points in 71 games with the Rochester Americans in the 2016-17 season)
Cole Schneider joins Hartford after completing a one man show on offense for the struggling Rochester Americans last season. The 26-year-old forward is another veteran who has produced quality numbers in the past few seasons. He has proven that he can dominate in the American Hockey League. Schneider is more of a playmaker than a scorer. He will certainly help on the power play and compliment Nicklas Jensen.
Jensen is the sniper of the club and having players who feed him the puck will boost his numbers. Schneider can score when needed if the opportunity rises. He has a quick release and is not afraid to get in the dirty areas. I look forward to another season where he produces healthy offensive numbers. He can show prospects a few tips on converting their opportunities.
Jeff Gorton still needs to sign players for Hartford and New York as his work is not done. From the standpoint of Hartford, the club is off to a strong start. He addressed the presence of quality veterans along with an offensive punch. I believe he will sign a few more proven American Hockey League players to pitch in on offense. He still needs to address the defense. Despite the depth on the blue line, we need another veteran to help the young prospects. Steven Kampfer returns but he cannot do it all himself. Having another veteran on defense will give prospects two examples on how to play defense in specific situations. As for goalies, we need him to sign a proven goalie for Hartford. The goalies in the system are not ready for the AHL. Brandon Halverson should be in Hartford next season, but he needs the guidance of a quality starting goalie, similar to Magnus Hellberg.
I am looking forward to the next moves by Jeff Gorton. In Jeff we trust.