Clark lauds 2009 draftees' progress
Rangers Director, Player Personnel, says top picks have all improved a lot
• Complete '20 Prospects in 20 Days' Series
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
It has been almost exactly one year since the Rangers selected seven players in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. And as excited as he was about these youngsters a year ago on draft day in Montreal, Rangers Director, Player Personnel Gordie Clark is even more enthused with them 12 months later, as they continue to develop and make strides towards one day becoming National Hockey League players.
|Chris Kreider, shown here with Gordie Clark, the Rangers' Director, Player Personnel, was the first of some very promising Blueshirts draft picks last year.
“Looking back a year there is no question that we are really, really pleased,” said Clark, who is currently in the final stages of preparation for the 2010 draft this weekend in Los Angeles.
Kreider, selected in the first round, 19th overall, in 2009 enjoyed a banner year this past season. He not only produced offensively in his freshman campaign at Boston College, notching 15 goals and recording 23 points in 38 games, but he also received big-game experience and earned a winning pedigree along the way, two important factors that should serve well as a professional in the coming years.
Kreider first helped lead the United States to the gold medal at the World Junior Championships, scoring six goals and seven points in seven games, and then played a big role as BC won the NCAA Championship.
“Kreider just had an unbelievable year for a kid,” said Clark. “He must be just shaking his head because it was quite a ride for him. We’re really proud of what he did because there is a lot of pressure on a first round pick.”
The two players selected after Kreider last year, second-rounder Werek and third-round pick Bourque, both had strong seasons, as well.
Werek put up nearly identical numbers as he did during his draft year. Werek netted 30 goals and recorded 64 points in 57 games in 2009-10 after scoring 64 points in 66 games the year before.
Bourque played in only 44 games with the Quebec Remparts of QMJHL due to various injuries, although he did score 19 goals and record 43 points, plus another ten points in nine playoff games. Like Kreider, Bourque earned a gold medal at the World Junior Championships, notching three assists in seven games.
“Bourque stepped into the Quebec League, which is a hard league to go into, especially for his size, but his work ethic and his heart were really big, and we expect him to do more scoring this year,” Clark said of the 5-foot-9 winger. “He’s found that it’s not so easy to score in the Quebec League, so I know with his work ethic he’ll be ready for the challenge this year.”
As for Horak, Clark is happy with how the Czech Republic native handled his first season playing in North America. Selected in the fifth round, 127th overall a year ago, Horak scored 21 goals and finished with 47 points over 66 games with Chilliwack in the WHL. He also improved in areas that do not necessarily show up on the scoresheet, like faceoffs and defensive play.
“Roman Horak might have been the most improved player as far as where we started,” said Clark. “He learned how to play the North American game. And his English is really, really good now which makes it easier for him to be a part of things that go on in the locker room more.”
Clark noted that these four prospects, along with goalie Scott Stajcer and defensemen Daniel Maggio and Mikhail Pashnin, all will return to their college and major junior teams this upcoming season before decisions regarding which will ones will turn pro in the summer of 2011 are made.