Welcome to the February 2013 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various competition levels who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind. This edition features a number of defensemen who have asserted themselves recently, both offensively and in their own zone. We also check in on a pair of WCHA netminders who are experiencing opposite fortunes as their season winds down.
There are 11 "home grown" players currently on the New York Rangers' roster, including former first round selection Chris Kreider, who played with the AHL Connecticut Whale as recently as January. Of the Rangers prospects currently on the Connecticut Whale roster, there are two former first round picks (Dylan McIlrath and J.T. Miller), one second round selection (Christian Thomas), and seven rookies overall.
With the end of the lockout and the abbreviated 48-game season, the opportunities for NHL rookies to make an impression is somewhat limited. Many of the top teams, such as the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, head into the season with their lineups virtually intact from the 2011-12 season.
The New York Rangers have become one of the NHL teams that rely most on good player development. As the result of a rebuild that lasted at least half of the last decade, close to half of the players on the 2011-12 roster had either been drafted or signed as free agents out of junior hockey.
Below is the middle section Hockey’s Future’s NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.