Rangers hope to learn about Zac Jones, top prospect at rookie camp

The Rangers’ 2021-22 season ended simply over three months in the past, but it surely’s already time to get again on the ice, though the New York warmth may point out in any other case.

Rookie camp will start at MSG Training Center in Tarrytown on Wednesday and can run by Sept. 20. The camp will embody two prospect video games on Sept. 16 and 17 in Allentown, Pa., towards their counterparts with the Flyers. The Rangers will then dive proper into the primary camp on Sept. 21 earlier than the six-game preseason schedule begins on Sept. 26 with a recreation towards the Islanders at the Garden.

The group shall be evaluating a number of rookies intently as administration items along with the Rangers’ roster for the 2022-23 season. Here are the top prospects to watch at rookie camp and what the Rangers are hoping to learn about them:

Zac Jones: Can he defend nicely sufficient at the NHL stage?

Jones shall be competing for the sixth/seventh defenseman function together with Libor Hajek and Matthew Robertson. There’s at all times an opportunity the Rangers may invite a veteran defenseman on knowledgeable tryout contract, however their cap state of affairs makes filling the job internally extra interesting. Hajek stands out as the most skilled of the three, with 4 seasons and 94 NHL video games underneath his belt, however Jones is a extremely expert possibility who not solely has some NHL expertise of his personal, but in addition impressed with the AHL Wolf Pack final season.

Rangers defenseman Zac Jones

“He was superior, I assumed he was our greatest participant for the complete season,” Hartford’s assistant coach turned participant improvement assistant Casey Torres informed The Post. “He was so dynamic. He created offense from excessive and low chance conditions. He competed laborious. Such nice imaginative and prescient on the ice and only a actual dynamic presence for us offensively on the again finish.”

Jones, drafted 68th total in 2019, totaled six assists by 10 video games in 2020-21 and 12 video games in 2021-22 for the Rangers. Not each younger defenseman’s transition to the NHL could be as seamless because it was for Braden Schneider, however Jones may enhance as he beneficial properties extra confidence and familiarity with the tempo of the league. His potential to successfully quarterback the top energy play for Massachusetts and the Wolf Pack set him aside, however Jones does not have a transparent path to such a job for the Rangers, with Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba already cemented in these spots. Aside from additional strengthening his shot, the offensive aspect of his recreation isn’t a priority. The query now’s whether or not he is ready to absolutely translate to the NHL his robust ice imaginative and prescient and skating potential in his defensive recreation.

Will Cuylle: Is he higher off getting top-six minutes in Hartford or fourth-line minutes in New York?

The very last thing the Rangers need to do is rush one other prospect who is not prepared for the NHL. Almost every little thing about Cuylle, nevertheless, screams NHL-ready. From his 6-foot-3, 212-pound construct, which he is aware of how to use, to his highly effective left-handed shot, Cuylle has a chance to show he can skate with the large guys this upcoming coaching camp. The Rangers’ no. 60 decide within the 2020 draft can have to beat out the likes of Dryden Hunt, Julien Gauthier, Jonny Brodzinski, Ryan Carpenter and Gustav Rydahl, however there is definitely a path for Cuylle to make the Rangers’ roster at some level, if not proper out of coaching camp.

Will Cuylle taking part in for Team Canada.
Getty Images

The Rangers can have to resolve whether or not Cuylle would profit extra from massive AHL minutes or a a lot lesser function within the NHL.

Brennan Othmann: Can he crack the top 9 with an important camp and persuade the Rangers to give him an audition?

Considering Othmann cannot be assigned to the AHL, the Rangers have few choices when it comes to the left winger. He will both make their opening-night roster or shall be assigned again to the Ontario Hockey League’s Flint Firebirds. There’s additionally a risk that the Rangers desire a longer look at Othmann within the lineup, which may earn him some NHL video games whereas administration makes a ultimate determination. Othmann was chosen sixteenth total final 12 months, and his offensive abilities are finest suited to the top six. Given what number of younger wingers the Rangers have already got within the combine for the top two traces — resembling Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov — Othmann could also be edged out of a spot this season.

Matthew Robertson: Can he enhance his consistency?

Robertson’s 6-4, 201-pound body makes him troublesome to ignore on the Rangers’ depth chart. Last season was his first with the Wolf Pack and he mixed for one objective and 10 assists with 36 penalty minutes in 65 video games. It’s additionally value noting that 2021-22 was Robertson’s first season away from residence after he performed 5 seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings.

His first skilled season had its ups and downs, so it could be within the Rangers’ finest curiosity to let Robertson marinate within the AHL for a bit longer to acquire some extra confidence. Now that Schneider has moved up and Jones could observe swimsuit, Robertson would have a chance to be the top defenseman in Hartford.

“He’s obtained that bodily presence,” Torres stated. “He does an excellent job of ending performs within the defensive zone, like that is a extremely good ability set for him.”

Bobby Trivigno
Robert Sabo

Bobby Trivigno: Can his total recreation outweigh what he lacks in measurement?

As one of many newer gamers within the Rangers’ prospect pool, Trivigno shall be trying to make an impression. He’s not essentially as shut to making the NHL roster as the remainder of the prospects on this record, however the feisty winger is a particular type of participant and is value searching for.

“The final weekend, he had a extremely good weekend stretch, gamers on the opposite workforce wished to kill him,” Torres stated. “I believe that is a part of his recreation. He brings such depth and such hearth that it makes folks need to hate him, however I believe that is attribute. Sounds like he had a extremely good summer time coaching off the ice, he is added some muscle. He’s actually doing every little thing in his energy to give himself a shot.”

The main concern surrounding Trivigno is his 5-8 stature — even when he performs a a lot greater recreation than his measurement signifies.


Leave a Comment