Prospects Shooting for Title in Traverse City

Friday, 09.07.2007 / 9:19 AM / News
New York Rangers
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Prospects Shooting for Title in Traverse City
The Rangers prospects held a practice at the MSG Training Center on Thursday before leaving for Traverse City, MI.
The New York Rangers take the first step in their 2007-08 season on Friday with the opening of the 2007 Traverse City Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.

The Blueshirts are sending a team of 22 prospects to the eight-team tournament, including 14 draft picks and two other players whose NHL rights belong to the team. A dozen of the players are already signed to NHL contracts, including 2004 first-round pick Lauri Korpikoski, 2005 first-rounder Marc Staal and 2006 first-rounder Bobby Sanguinetti. Brandon Dubinsky, who played six games with the Rangers last season, is the only player on the team with NHL experience.

This marks the second consecutive year that the Rangers have gone to Traverse City. A year ago, the Blueshirts prospects placed fourth in the tournament, going 2-2. Eleven members of last year's team will be taking part in the tournament again this year.

The team will be led by head coach Ken Gernander, who will be working with many of these players over the coming years in his role as head coach of the Rangers' AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. Rangers assistant coach Perry Pearn will also be part of the coaching staff in Traverse City, helping to prepare many of these prospects for their upcoming experience at the Rangers' main training camp.

The prospects gathered at the MSG Training Center on Thursday morning for fitness testing and a practice session. They left for Traverse City later in the day, and will play their opening game on tonight against Tampa Bay at 7 p.m. Between-periods updates and a wrap-up story will be available on newyorkrangers.com.

A schedule and complete roster are linked below. Here is a look at the 16 prospects whose NHL rights are currently controlled by the Rangers:

FORWARDS:

Artem Anisimov
2006-07: Yaroslavl (RUS) -- 39 games, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points, 6 PIM

A hulking center who possesses a deadly combination of size and quickness, Anisimov skated as an 18-year old in the Russian Super League last season. Coming off a six game stint with Russia in the Canada/Russia Super Series, Traverse City will offer Anisimov, a 2006 second-round draft pick, his very first taste of North American pro hockey.

Joe Barnes
2006-07: Albany (AHL) -- 15-2-1-3-19

Acquired over the summer from Carolina along with Andrew Hutchinson in exchange for Matt Cullen, Barnes was limited to just 15 games in the AHL last season after suffering a concussion early in the season. A former third-round draft choice of the Hurricanes, he put up impressive offensive numbers during his final season in the WHL, notching 25 goals and 27 assists for 52 points in 55 games in 2005-06.

Alex Bourret
2006-07: Chicago/Hartford (AHL) -- 68-16-34-50-58

Described by Head Coach Tom Renney as a "buzz saw" of a player, Bourret led the Hartford Wolf Pack with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) during their postseason run. The 14th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry draft is a gritty, no nonsense player who constantly aggravates the opposition.

Brandon Dubinsky
2006-07: Hartford (AHL) -- 71-21-22-43-115

Impressive in his brief, six-game stint with the Rangers last season, Dubinsky is an agitator with a mean streak. Selected in the second round in 2004, the fierce competitor is a solid two-way center with a deft scoring touch who made his presence felt during last year's tournament.

Brodie Dupont
2006-07: Calgary (WHL) -- 70-37-33-70-121

Another bruising and physical presence up front, Dupont had a breakout year with the Hitmen of the WHL, notching 37 goals and 33 assists for 70 points. The hulking center thrives in the dirty areas of the game, whether it means battling hard in the corners or parking his wide frame right in front of the net.

Ryan Hillier
2006-07: Halifax (QMJHL) -- 70-32-27-59-79

A speedy playmaker with good hockey sense, Hillier's stock has risen considerably since being drafted in the third round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The nifty winger netted 32 goals after tallying just 19 the year before with the Halifax Mooseheads while maintaining his solid defenseman game.

Lauri Korpikoski
2006-07: Hartford (AHL) -- 78-11-27-38-23

Although Korpikoski plays an aggressive game, he is a finesse player who possesses great top speed. Selected by New York in the first round, 19th overall, in 2004, the winger took time to adjust to the North American game, yet still managed to put up 38 points while playing mostly a third line checking role.

David Kveton
2006-07: Gatineau (QMJHL) -- 31-5-27-32-17

Kveton averaged over a point a game in his first season in the Q. Drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round in 2006, the crafty winger known for his playmaking ability in the offensive zone has shown great improvement in his all-around game and was a dominating player for Gatineau after spending part of the season with his club team back home in the Czech Republic.

Tom Pyatt
2006-07: Saginaw (OHL) -- 58-43-38-81-18

For two years in a row, Pyatt has been identified by Renney as a model prospect for conditioning and physical standards not only amongst young players, but among those currently on the pro roster as well. Pyatt put together one of the finest seasons in all of major junior hockey last season, as his 81-point outburst in just 58 games established him as a true up-and-comer in the Rangers' ranks.

David Skokan
2006-07: Rimouski (QMJHL) -- 52-14-21-35-62

Another solid two-way center, Skokan is an outstanding stick handler who skates circles around his opposition. The Rangers' fifth round pick this past June was selected to the 2007 CHL Top Prospects Game and skated for Team Slovakia at the 2006 and 2007 World Junior Championships. This will be the first chance for the Rangers coaching staff to see him up close.

Tomas Zaborsky
2006-07: Saginaw (OHL) -- 59-19-24-43-18

A shifty skater with natural offensive instincts, Zaborsky had an impressive first season in the OHL. Blessed with a powerful shot with deadly accuracy, the winger is also a crafty playmaker with great patience who creates easy scoring opportunities for his teammates.

DEFENSE

Michael Busto
2006-07: Kootenay (WHL) -- 70-20-43-63-79

Busto is a high-scoring, rugged defenseman who, according to Renney, plays with "a good amount of sandpaper to his game." The first-team WHL All Star ranked third amongst all defenseman with 63 points, and his coaches used him in all game situations. Signed as an undrafted free agent in the spring, Traverse City gives Busto his first chance to play in a Rangers jersey.

Bobby Sanguinetti
2006-07: Owen Sound (OHL) -- 67-23-30-53-58

A blueliner who grew up in New Jersey idolizing Brian Leetch, Sanguinetti is the quintessential offensive defenseman and is dangerous every time he touches the puck. A smooth skater, the Rangers' first-round selection in 2006 is an accurate passer who specialized in the all-important first outlet pass. He also has hard shot from the point that forces the opposition to worry about his blasts while on the power play.

Michael Sauer
2006-07: Portland/Medicine Hat (WHL) -- 65-5-18-23-75

Selected in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Minnesota native is an athletic and physical defenseman with a good amount of offense to his game. A superb checker who lays out his opponents, Sauer is very intelligent on the blueline and is very rarely caught out of position.

Marc Staal
2006-07: Sudbury (OHL) -- 53-5-29-34-92

A consummate, stay-at-home defenseman who starred in every area of the game during his junior career, Staal was named the Ontario Hockey League's top blueliner in 2006-07. The Sudbury captain came up clutch in the postseason, leading all OHL defenseman in the playoffs with 20 points and ranking first in assists with 15 and second in goals with five.

GOALTENDERS

Antoine Lafleur
2006-07: PEI (QMJHL) – 27 wins – 19 Losses – 3 OT losses – 2.97 GAA – 3 SO

A big, 6-foot-4 butterfly-style goalie, Lafleur excels at playing the angles and has excellent control of rebounds. Selected in the second round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the PEI netminder ranked fourth among QMJHL goaltenders with a 2.97 goals-against average and was a candidate for the Marcel-Robert Trophy as the league's Scholastic Player of the Year.

RANGERS' TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Sept. 7 - Rangers 6, Tampa Bay 4
Sept. 8 - Rangers 5, Atlanta 3
Sept. 10 - Rangers 3, Detroit 2
Sept. 11 - Rangers 5, Columbus 1 (championship game)

NEW YORK RANGERS 2007 PROSPECT TOURNAMENT ROSTER
FORWARDS
No. Player POS. HT WT 2006-07 Team (League)
51 Artem Anisimov C 6-4 190 Yaroslavl (Russia)
45 Joe Barnes C 6-3 212 Albany (AHL)
50 Alex Bourret RW 5-11 205 Chicago/Hartford (AHL)
48 Brandon Dubinsky C 6-1 210 Hartford/NYR (AHL/NHL)
63 Brodie Dupont LW 6-2 210 Calgary (WHL)
73 Ryan Hillier LW 6-1 190 Halifax (QMJHL)
60 Lauri Korpikoski LW 6-1 190 Hartford (AHL)
85 David Kveton RW 5-11 180 Gatineau/Vsetin (QMJHL/Czech)
71 Mark Lee C 5-11 184 Charlotte/Hartford (ECHL/AHL)
65 Jordan Owens LW 6-0 166 Mississauga/Hartford (OHL/AHL)
84 Tom Pyatt C 6-0 190 Saginaw/Hartford (OHL/AHL)
62 David Skokan C 6-0 191 Rimouski (QMJHL)
56 Tomas Zaborsky LW 6-1 180 Saginaw (OHL)
DEFENSE
No. Player POS. HT WT 2006-07 Team (League)
87 Clayton Barthel D 6-3 200 Kelowna/Phoenix (WHL/ECHL)
72 Lukas Bohunicky D 6-3 215 Kootenay (WHL)
64 Michael Busto D 6-2 210 Kootenay (WHL)
47 Corey Potter D 6-3 205 Hartford/Charlotte (AHL/ECHL)
59 Bobby Sanguinetti D 6-3 190 Owen Sound/Hartford (OHL/AHL)
76 Michael Sauer D 6-3 206 Portland/Medicine Hat (WHL)
42 Marc Staal D 6-4 205 Sudbury (OHL)
GOALTENDERS
No. Player POS. HT WT 2006-07 Team (League)
98 Antoine Lafleur G 6-4 186 Prince Edward Island (QMJHL)
94 Miika Wiikman G 5-11 177 Hameelinna (Finland)