Recapping Day One Of Rangers Prospect Camp

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With the NHL Draft over, it’s time for the Rangers to evaluate their prospects at their week-long prospects development camp.

This was the first chance for the entire organization to see their young assets in action before the 2018-19 season. 2018 first-rounders Vitaly Kravtsov, K’Andre Miller, and Nils Lundkvist were all on the ice today looking to prove their value to the Rangers.

Vitaly Kravtsov

Though not at NHL speed, Kravtsov showed everyone some of his smooth hands that earned him KHL Rookie of the Year honors.

Kravtsov seems to be eager to come to North America, but he still has another year left on his KHL contract. Unless the contract is bought out, Kravtsov is likely to return to Russia. Jeff Gorton said to the media after today’s on-ice activities that it is a tough decision to make, especially if Kravtsov can continue playing well in Europe. “Do we leave him over there to develop or should we put him on a smaller sheet of ice now and under our control, wherever that may be, English, all of that that goes into it. A lot of different factors go into this one. It’s a little too premature, I know his agent is coming out here at the end of the week and we will go from there.”

K’Andre Miller

The Rangers traded up to draft the forward-turned-defenseman at 22nd overall and Miller has come into this camp eager to show that he was worth the trade. Gorton said that the team was attracted to him for being “the whole package.” But perhaps even more important is the way he has adapted to his new position in a short amount of time. “With K’Andre it’s that he is just learning a new position and has so well so early is what really attracted everyone to him. Like I mentioned at the draft, his upside is really good and there is a lot of it and we don’t really know how far he can push it. It’s going to be exciting where he can take it.”

Nils Lundkvist

As mentioned above, the soon to be 18-year-old will be headed back to his native Sweden to continue his development. Lundkvist has already played in the top Swedish league, so he should keep playing against top-level competition. Gorton added that there seems to be a pattern with young Swedes. “If you look at the track record of younger players in Sweden, sometimes it’s best for them to stay over there. He was in the elite league already and that is the best course for him, he played a lot of minutes, is one of the younger guys who actually played a lot of minutes. We are encouraged with where he is at and going.”

 

Other Prospects

This development camp isn’t just about the 2018 first-round picks. Second-round pick Olof Lindbom said he is, of course, familiar with Rangers goaltender and countryman Henrik Lundqvist. Unfortunately for Lindbom, the goaltending legend didn’t reach out to him, but another current Rangers player, Jesper Fast, did. Longtime Rangers goaltending guru Benoit Allaire will have his hands full during this camp, as the Rangers have Lindbom, Adam Huska, and Tyler Wall all in attendance.

20-year-old prospect Brett Howden, who was acquired along with Libor Hajek in the trade with Tampa Bay for Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller, is confident that he will make the jump to the professional ranks from Juniors.

Hajek was also very confident in his abilities, adding a similar sentiment to Howden.

“I believe I will make it this year. That’s my goal. I feel strong, I feel I’m ready. I don’t want to (sound) selfish, but I just believe in myself and yeah, I want to make it this year.” Rick Carpiniello/The Athletic

Ryan Lindgren, who the Rangers signed as an NCAA free-agent, also made an appearance at the player development camp. Like Howden and Hajek, Lindgren is certain that his game could help him make the opening night roster, and that his mindset is to still be with the Blueshirts come October.

Jeff Gorton discussed his plethora of top prospects, saying “There are a lot of young players there, a lot to digest. It suggests that our future is bright and we have a lot of good players. When you talk to other teams around the league and GMs are telling you about it’s good and makes you feel good about where you are going.”

Editor’s Note: Unless marked otherwise, all quotes were taken from here

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