Rangers General Manager Glen Sather has a knack for picking real talent. Sure, there are hits and there are misses, but when he finds a diamond in the rough, or several gems all at once, it’s difficult to say which one gets the nod. Sometimes all of the hot talent shows up all at once.
That seems to be the case this year in this year’s Rangers camp.
There are more than a couple of players looking to gain a spot this year on the New York Rangers. Ruslan Fedetenko and Pavel Valentenko have looked amazing along with Derek Stepan. Throw Sean Avery onto their line and they were able to capture two goals and four assists between the four of them in the Rangers’ 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night.
“It was like getting a monkey off my back,” Stepan said of getting his first goal. “I was kind of gripping the stick a little tight, so it felt good to finally tap one in.”
“I felt more comfortable on the line,” he said of centering the Avery-Fedetenko line. “We clicked well. We played really well.”
Stepan, who is only 20 years old, has all of the right credentials to go along with his amazing performance so far this preseason. His father, Brad, was drafted by the Rangers in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He attended the elite school of hockey, Shattuck-Saint Mary’s (which boasts former graduates Zach Parise, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews). He even captained the United States to the gold medal in the 2010 World Junior Championships.
Shattuck Saint-Mary’s has seen their graduates lead their teams to the highest level of NHL success around. Two graduates have captained their team to the Stanley Cup in the last two years (Toews, 2010 and Crosby, 2009). Four graduates won a medal at the 2010 Olympics: two gold (Toews, Crosby) and two silver (Parise and Jack Johnson).
With credentials from one of the top hockey schools in the country, along with one gold medal under his belt captaining Team USA at the World Championships, Stepan could be the next big thing in the NHL. It could lead to a Stanley Cup like the last two Shattuck graduates that were chosen as captains of their NHL teams.
If anything, he has a lot of people back home in Minnesota that are cheering him on. They’re all hoping he makes the club (even if they can’t watch the Rangers games back in Minnesota).
Fedetenko, who was originally rumored to be vying for Avery’s spot, has been a compliment to Avery’s wonders on the ice. So far this preseason, he has tied for the top spot with five points alongside Michael Del Zotto and Alexander Frolov. Marian Gaborik follows with four points. Stepan and Ryan Callahan follow with three points. Fedetenko and Stepan are the two leading the pack in forwards that are looking to make the Rangers roster this season.
Another defenseman looking to make the club is Mike Sauer. He tallied his first goal of the preseason last night.
“I just made sure I showed up and did what I could do best,” Sauer said. “I got that opportunity and I capitalized, so that’s good.”
“I’m not too worried about it,” he said of possibly not being picked for the roster. “If they send me down…obviously there’s that possibility, but I gotta make sure that I keep going the way I am and make sure I get better every day.”
There have been only three defensemen that have scored goals this preseason: Sauer, Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy. All three have received positive marks from coach John Tortorella.
Because of how well the remaining prospects are doing, there will not be another cut from the Rangers roster, yet. It’s really tough to pick and choose which one to release and send down when they are all giving such great performances.