Scoping out the Traverse City lineup...
No scrimmage for the Rangers prospects today, just drills run by the Wolfpack coaching staff and goaltending guru Benoit Allaire, who offered advice to Scott Stajcer and Cam Talbot.
What we saw, in a word? Potential.
Mark Messier, who was watching the 23 practice this morning before flying to the Traverse City tourney, said that no lines or d-pairings were set in stone, but the groups today were a blueprint because there’s only one other skate before the first game against Columbus Saturday afternoon. (Monday will be a practice day)
Assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld, who said the team was “deeper in all positions” than last year’s squad, said that teams often match up their best prospects against each other to gauge readiness, so I have a feeling that the Evgeny Grachev-Derek Stepan-Ryan Bourque trio will see plenty of ice time. And possibly the pairing of Ryan McDonagh and this summer’s first-round pick, Dylan McIlrath.
The other lines: Ethan Werek-Brendan Shinnimin-Randy McNaught; Jason Wilson-Roman Horak-Christian Thomas; tryout Cs Jason Bast and Kelsey Tessier alternated between LW Andrew Yogan and RW Chris McKelvie. The hard-nosed Werek is a center, so again, things may be shuffled.
Duos on the blueline: Sam Klassen/Tomas Kundratek; Jyri Niemi/Daniel Maggio; Lee Baldwin/Brandon Manning….
Thoughts from Grachev, (headed to Michigan for the third time), Stepan, McDonagh, Bourque and McIlrath as well as an interview with Schoney will be up here shortly….