HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack are set to begin their training camp formally on Sunday.
On tap for the first day will be physicals as well as the usual rigors of organizing what will be a changing lineup. Ken Gernander and his staff will cope with the Rangers pairing their lineup and sending several players to the capital city of Connecticut until opening night comes October 10th against the St. John’s IceCaps.
The Rangers made their first cuts yesterday.
FIRST ROSTER CUTS ANNOUNCED
Twelve players that The Rangers reassigned on Wednesday will report to training camp for the Hartford Wolf Pack:
Goalies Cedrick Desjardins and Mackenzie Skapski both listed as injured when the Rangers camp started last week.
Forwards Chris McCarthy, Chad Nehring, Josh Nicholls, Michael St. Croix and veteran Nick Tarnasky
The Rangers reassigned six to their major junior teams in the US and Canada. Ryan Gropp heads to Seattle (WHL). Brandon Halverson to Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). Keegan Iverson moves to Portland (WHL). Ryan Mantha departs to Niagara (OHL) while Brad Morrison goes to Prince George (WHL), and Sergey Zborovskiy to Regina (WHL). Zborovskiy will develop under the tutelage of former Wolf Pack head coach, John Paddock.
The one player released from his tryout agreement, Jacob Smith, will be going back to the North Bay Battalion (OHL).
The Wolf Pack announced on Thursday that Czech-born forward Richard Nejezchleb signed an AHL contract. He was a fifth-round pick, 122nd overall, in the 2014 draft.
Nejezchleb started last year with the Wolf Pack after playing two games in Traverse City tournament, but suffered an injury and saw no action after the tournament and went back to Brandon (WHL). Nejezchleb got traded after two games to the Tri-City Americans, a dreadful team, where the young forward slumped from 32 to 20 goals and a minus-27. Nejezchleb has size at 6’2 and 210 lbs and has good wheels and earned his first pro contract. Following the Rangers pre-season game loss in Boston last night, Nejezchleb was formally assigned to Hartford.
Joining Nejezchleb was Trevor Oleksuk, who signed as AHL free agent this summer after playing the last three years in Worcester.
The Rangers also released two other players from their training camp tryout contracts. Jayden Hart, who played his junior hockey with Prince Albert (WHL), will likely be seeking an AHL or ECHL deal somewhere. The enigmatic Kirill Kabanov, who played in Sweden last year, will too look at an AHL deal, but likely will return to Europe.
The Rangers on Friday announced they have sent five more players to the Wolf Pack. Those players include defensemen Brett Bellemore and Tommy Hughes, goaltender Jeff Malcolm, and forwards Adam Tambellini, a rookie, and fourth-year veteran center, Marek Hrivik.
RANGERS EXHIBITION GAMES
The Rangers won their first game 6-3 over the New Jersey Devils. Brian Gibbons had a goal and two assists, and Jayson Megna had two goals both players signed as free agents in the offseason. Lindberg had a goal with Bourque assisting on it.
The Rangers lost in Philadelphia to the Flyers 5-3 on Wednesday with Oscar Lindberg making a strong bid to remain with the Rangers by contributing a goal and an assist in the 5-3 loss.
Meanwhile, last night, at the Boston Garden, Brady Skjei had a strong night chipping in a goal and an assist in their 4-3 shootout loss. The Rangers entered the third period with a 3-1 lead. Henrik Lundqvist was superb in his forty minutes of action before Malcolm relieved him to play the remainder of the game.
Ryan Bourque, another forward seeking a roster spot, had three shots on goal against the Flyers. Bourque demonstrated a strong two-way game, especially on a critical third-period defensive play. The son of Hall-of-Famer, Ray Bourque, used his outstanding speed to come back to pick up a wide open Bruin, Jimmy Hayes, on the doorstep and prevented a sure fire easy late regulation game-winner.
In the shootout, Bourque was nearly the hero as he snapped a hard wrist shot over the glove of goalie Jeremy Smith, but his shot clanged off the crossbar.
The Rangers play the Devils Saturday night in New Jersey in their next game.
Former Wolf Pack captain, Dane Byers, has become another AHL’er, who’s left for Europe. Byers signed with Ilves Tampere (Finland-FEL). Dany Heatley, the one-time high-flying NHL winger, who split last year between Norfolk and San Antonio, has signed with Nuremberg (Germany-DEL). Nick Sorkin of Hamilton will skate for VIK Vasteras HK (Sweden-Allsvenskan).
The total number of AHL’ers from last season who have signed in Europe is now 73.
Another former Pack captain, Aaron Johnson, has been assigned to the Stockton Thunder by the Calgary Flames.
In the camp of the Springfield Falcons are ex-Pack Kale Kerbashian (already signed with Rapid City-ECHL) and defenseman Steve Delisle, who makes a second tour with the Falcons after signing with them in the off-season.
Former Salisbury Prep player, Kevin Quick, is in camp with the Rockford IceHogs, but signed with Indianapolis (ECHL) their Double AA affiliate in the summer.
Former Wolf Pack goalie Jason Missiaen has signed a deal with the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL).
Fairfield native and Avon Old Farms graduate, Quinn Smith, has signed his first professional contract with Idaho (ECHL).
Phil Osaer, a one-time Wolf Pack goalie, was named by USA Hockey as the Manager of their American Development Model for goaltending. Osaer was the Director of Hockey Operations at Michigan State (Big 10).
Former Trinity College assistant Peter Roundy takes on the same role just up the road with Holy Cross (AHA).
Former Wolf Pack, Zdenek Bahensky, signs with HC Slavia Prague (Czech Republic Division-2).
The now retired one-time Pack goalie, Vitali Yeremeyev, has started a new career as a goaltending coach in the Russian junior league MHL in Kazakhstan with Snezhnyk Barys Astana.
Former Ranger and New Haven Nighthawk, Raimo Helminen, was an assistant coach got sacked along with their head coach by Barys Astana (Kazakhstan-KHL) after a 1-4 start.
Last year’s Toronto Marlies captain Troy Bodie has retired to become a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Congratulations are due to the following CT based players for making their USHL teams for the upcoming season that begins this weekend:
- Mike O’ Leary Salisbury Prep (Dubuque)
- Connor Sundquist Glastonbury and Austin Dittenhafer CT Jr. Wolf Pack (Sioux City)
- Eric and Alex Esposito of West Haven and Loomis Chaffe prep (Youngstown)
- Jack Badini, Old Greenwich (Lincoln)
- Matt Foley, Yale University commit 2016-17 (Bloomington).
HOCKEY AND FIGHTING
The tragic suicide of former NHL enforcer Todd Ewen last week has reignited the debate on fighting in hockey. Here is a very thoughtful and balanced piece by Lindsay Kramer of the Syracuse Post-Standard. Read about it HERE.