Steve Zipay at Blue Notes has released a list of 19 prospects and first- and second-year pros who will represent the Rangers in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, scheduled for September 13 through September 17 in Traverse City, Michigan. This is the third season the Rangers will participate in the tournament, which is hosted annually by the Detroit Red Wings. This year’s tournament will pit the Rangers’ top prospects against squads from the Atlanta Thrashers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning. A full tournament schedule is available at Red Wings Central.
A year ago, the Rangers prospect squad went undefeated en route to taking home the tournament title, thanks to strong performances by Alex Bourret (3-4-7), Brandon Dubinsky (3-4-7), Artem Anisimov (2-1-3) and Lauri Korpikoski (2-0-2). The defense was buoyed by the likes of Marc Staal, Mike Sauer and Bobby Sanguinetti. Of the players listed, only Anisimov and Sanguinetti will return to Michigan this September, and they’ll be looked upon to lead the team, along with second-year pros Brodie Dupont, Tommy Pyatt, and Vladimir Denisov. Other notables missing from last year’s line up include Corey Potter, David Kveton and Michael Busto, who attended the Rangers’ summer development camp, but who’s status within the organization seems to be in question based on this exclusion.
The defense, which includes only five players so far, is the biggest area of concern, though the organization is likely hoping for big things from 2008 first round draft pick Michael Del Zotto and 3rd round pick Tomas Kundratek, the top-rated Czech in the draft, who’s signing was finally confirmed by the club yesterday. Up front, 2008 draft picks Evgeni Grachev, Dale Weise, and Chris Doyle will get their first chance to represent the team that drafted them, while Tomas Zaborsky and David Skokan will look to improve on noteworthy performances at the tournament last fall as they each prepare for their first full pro season. In goal, Matt Zaba will make his debut at the tournament, while Antoine Lafleur will return for a second shot at the tournament title. Forwards Sergei Demagin, who’ll make his North American debut at the tournament, Rangers 2007 7th round pick Skokan, and Mike Taylor, who picked up four points in an 8-game tryout with the Hartford Wolf Pack last spring, and defenseman David Urquhart, who graduated from McGill University in May, are all signed to AHL contracts and are set to play the upcoming season in Hartford. Twenty-one year old free agent signee Justin Soryal rounds out the roster as it stands currently after completing a 4-year career with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League.
The Rangers also provided the names of 5 players who have been invited to rookie camp on a tryout basis. Most notable among them is the eldest son of former Ranger Captain Mark Messier, 21-year old Lyon Messier. He’ll join three other defenseman, including 6′5″, 225lb 20-year old Tysen Dowzak, 19-year old Czech David Stich and 20-year old Nick Pageau, who impressed enough at the Rangers’ summer development camp to earn himself a tryout. 19-year old right wing Matt Meropoulis will join the four defensemen in trying to earn an invite to the prospects tournament, and, if that goes well, main camp. Expect at least two defenseman — from that list or elsewhere — to supplement the currently shorthanded blueline corps in Traverse City.
Ryan Hillier (injured)
Michael Del Zotto
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