Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 12/15/11

 Carl Hagelin continues to impress, night in and night out. Described by Coach John Tortorella as the fastest player he’s ever coached, Hagelin is the physical manifestation of the blueprint that General Manager Glen Sather laid out several years ago when he shifted gears away from a focus on free agent acquisitions and began to concentrate instead on drafting and trading for youth.

The results of this organizational strategic shift are bearing major fruit this season after showing signs last year that the model was on its way to proving out. The Rangers are a young, fast team, up front and on the blue line, and figure to be so for quite some time going forward.

Hagelin, with six points and a plus-7 rating through his first ten games, has demonstrated that he can compete on multiple levels in terms of overall skill set. Though his speed is his most distinctive separator, Hagelin also sports a wicked and accurate shot and has shown no reluctance to throw his body around. 

Ten games is an admittedly small sample set, however with that said Hagelin does figure to be a major part of the team’s plans going forward as either a direct contributor or as bait to lure in a young, top-tier defenseman via trade at some point down the road.

 

Tim Erixon will return to the big club, having been recalled from the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. Erixon, the former first round pick of the Calgary Flames (23rd overall), spent a brief stint with the Rangers earlier this season and is being recalled primarily due to the void caused by the absence of the recently concussed Michael Sauer.

Erixon has some huge skates to fill as Sauer, after overcoming an early season shoulder injury, was consistently making it clear why Glen Sather considers him to be an untouchable in trade discussions.

 

With the Rangers having appeared to settle into predictable line combinations it will be interesting to note how the inevitable returns of Mike Rupp and Wojtek Wolski will impact Coach Tortorella’s thinking.

Obvious casualties figure to be Erik Christensen and Sean Avery over time, however one of these players has been scratched in favor of the other over the past few weeks.

Translated, Tortorella will have four players to choose from for perhaps one lineup slot, unless of course he chooses to sit either Carl Hagelin or John Mitchell or both in a rotation approach, bringing the number of personnel choices to six. It’s a nice problem to have in the end, as the Rangers will have excess talent to deal should they find themselves in need of filling a need or needs as the season progresses.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The St Louis Blues are up next for the Rangers on 12/15 in a game to be played in St. Louis. Riding a streak that has seen them win ten of their past fifteen games and collect points in all but two of those fifteen, the Blues seem to be establishing themselves as a legitimate force in the league.

For long time Rangers’ fans this is a nice development, as St. Louis is run by John Davidson, the much loved former Rangers color analyst. Davidson has struggled to get the St. Louis franchise to the place it is now, so it’s nice to see good things happen to good people. The only question that remains is whether Davidson will buy dinner for Sam Rosen, his partner of over 20 years in the Rangers broadcast booth and dear friend, or make Rosen cough up instead.

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