The 2012-2013 New York Ranger prospect season got underway on Friday evening when Samuel Noreau (2011 5th)
made his season debut for his Baie-Comeau Drakkar as the Drakkar defeated the Chicoutimi Saguenéens 6-1 in their preseason home opener. It is an important season for Noreau who is in the 2nd year of his draft status with the Rangers and needs a big year to earn a contract.
Noreau is also in his 3rd year with the Drakkar and at least on Friday was wearing an "A" on his uniform. Several people who watch the QMJHL have high expectations for the Drakkar including a couple who think this team could be a legit contender for the QMJHL Championship.
If you have forgotten about Noreau then he is a 6'5 225 defender who was 2nd to Dylan McIlrath for Ranger prospect fighting majors last season. He is very much a project player who at best I have projected as a 3rd pair/enforcer at the NHL level.
This is where I am going to really miss Traverse City because it would have a great way to see where Noreau is from last year. This year I am hoping to see Noreau reach double digits in goals and at least 30 points while leading the Ranger prospects in fighting majors.
Against Chicoutimi Friday evening, Noreau was what I like to call "quietly active" which is where you have a couple of shots, a penalty and a hit. Really just enough to get your name on the stat sheet but not enough to get you a star or in the doghouse.
Noreau's biggest advantage is that he is huge which is going to keep the Rangers interested in him. To earn a Ranger contract, Noreau has to breakout and be no less than a 2nd pair defender.
Anything less and Noreau will wind up as somebody's enforcer in the lower level pro leagues.
One player I have to admit caught my eye just by his name Bokondji Imama
but I got to give the kid credit as he is a 6' 185 LW who is just 16 years old. He has a good chance to stick with the Drakkar mainly because he shows up with lots of energy and a willingness to play physical.
The evil side of me wants to see Imama develop into a NHL player that the Rangers draft just so I can watch everyone butcher the poor kid's name. I can already see Sam Rosen calling Imama for a Ranger power play goal.
The QMJHL camps are in full swing and the OHL and WHL will start their camps over the next couple of weeks.
A Must Read
Our friend Neate Sager of Yahoo's Buzzing the Net
wrote an interesting piece regarding the NHL/CHL agreement. It turns out that the agreement that kept CHL players from playing in the AHL before they turned 20 actually expired when the last NHL/NHLPA CBA expired in 2004.
Sager though cautions people from expecting to see a flood of teenagers in the AHL
Getting back to the point, it's too early to tell what will happen with respect to 18- and 19-year-old juniors who are under contract. It's just one of many moving parts. People should also remember that assigning players in their early 20s to the AHL, which happened during the 2004-05 lockout, could be higher priority. That could create more competition for AHL jobs and make it tougher for a teenager to stick for the whole season.
It is an interesting point to consider as in the case of the Rangers I have to wonder which players they might try to assign to the AHL in the event of a lockout. My best guess suggests that Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin might be the only players that the Rangers can assign to the CT Whale because of their waiver status (believe last time anyone who was waiver eligible was not allowed to be sent to the AHL).
But then the question is what happens to someone like a J.T. Miller? If you read what Sager says then the Rangers might not bother using a year of Miller's Entry Level Contract during a lockout.
We shall see what the Rangers do come the middle of September as if the NHL locks out players then who will be invited to the CT Whale camp?