The Wolf Pack played three pre-season games this year–with only one at home. No games at the comfy Quinnipiac College (what a beautiful arena; if you get a chance, go watch a game up there), and none at Trinity College. This year, the sole “home” game was on Sunday, in Cromwell, Connecticut, at the Wolf Pack’s practice facility.
Earlier in the week, two Rangers’ prospects, Troy Donnay and Sam Noreau, were reassigned to Greenville (ECHL). For Noreau, this had to be very disappointing. He had made such great strides coming out of junior and just could not step up to do the job over the last two professional seasons. Apparently, he was not doing any better this fall, and off he went to South Carolina to play for the Swamp Rats. Unless a miracle happens, Noreau’s career as a Rangers’ prospect is almost over (he is not expected to be resigned by the Rangers after his ELC expires next summer).
Donnay is younger and will begin his professional career in Greenville. It is a very good place for him to begin, as Hartford has no room on the blueline, and Donnay, the huge tough blueliner, has a long road ahead of him to get to the NHL.
Noreau and Donnay were reassigned after the team won its first pre-season tilt against the Islanders’ triple A franchise. On Saturday, Hartford won its second pre-season game, against Lehigh Valley (Phillie’s AAA team), where two Rangers’ prospects, Petr Zamorsky and Marek Hrivik, had excellent games. Another round of cuts came Sunday morning, with Michael St. Croix and Josh Nicholls sent to Greenville.
Like Noreau, Nicholls is another prospect who has spent almost all of his pro career at the ECHL level. He just does not seem to have the game to be a real NHL prospect. Do not expect the Rangers to resign him after his ELC expires this summer.
St. Croix is still only 22 years old, and although he has played for Greenville almost exclusively since turning pro, he may be able to play on the AHL level somewhere else. He is not likely to be resigned for next season, but he may be able to get an AHL contract on another team.
Now to Sunday’s game. Bridgeport was looking to avenge its loss earlier in the week, and succeeded–they won 3-1. The Sound Tigers were solid in every zone, with rookie pro Carter Verhaeghe, new to the Islanders organization after a September trade with Toronto, giving an impressive performance. Verhaeghe could be a roster player in Brooklyn next season–he looked that solid.
Now for Sunday’s take on the Rangers’ prospects. This will only include those who stood out–good or needing improvement.
Magnus Hellberg was in net. Big, but not confident with the puck at all. Needs quite a bit of work and he will get it in Hartford. Has the size and the athleticism, but… we will have to see what Benoit Allaire can do with him.
Brady Skjei–sees the ice so well. Makes the solid, safe play. Knows where he is at all times. Does not look like he will need a huge adjustment to the pro game. Looks confident and can carry the puck.
Ryan Bourque–he works so hard. Always in the play, and outstanding on the PK.
Michael Kantor–after sitting out most of the last two seasons with injuries, Kantor was working incredibly hard on Sunday. Not afraid to use his body, an excellent forechecker, Kantor was one of head coach Ken Gernander’s favorites this training camp. It did not stop the inevitable though and Kantor was sent back to the ECHL yesterday morning.
Adam Tambellini–He looks bigger than he is. Tambellini looks like he is one of the biggest players on the ice, and he is not. He takes faceoffs well and he handles the puck well, but it is clear that he needs some experience. He could be a top six player at this level (and maybe beyond), but not sure that he can finish. Thus far, he is off to a good start.
Calle Andersson–needs to adjust to the North American game. Had a very good shot for a goal on Sunday, but he took the puck up ice in the second period, the Sound Tigers were making a (terrible) change, and instead of taking the puck forward into Bridgeport’s zone, he passed it backward to his D partner. Really bad play, but apparently one done in Europe all the time. He looked better here than in camp (development and training) lately, so I am optimistic for Andersson.
Petr Zamorsky–What a heavy shot. Now if he could only hit the net. He did in the second pre-season game, but on Sunday, it was the boards he kept hitting. One of Zamorsky and Andersson will run the power play in Hartford this season. My money is on Zamorsky.
The Wolf Pack made their final cuts yesterday (including Kantor, assigned to Greenville), and if Raphael Diaz reports, they will start the season this coming weekend with 22 players.