It was announced yesterday that New York Rangers prospects J.T. Miller (2011 1st round pick), Brady Skjei (2012 1st round pick) and Steven Fogarty (2011 3rd round pick) have all been selected for Team USA’s final 2012 National Junior Evaluation Camp roster. Team USA will be going up against Sweden and Finland in a duo of exhibition matches this week in Lake Placid, and it is in those games which all three prospects will be evaluated and ultimately cut from or submitted onto the final roster that will compete in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Russia.
Of the three, J.T. Miller is the only player who has experience in the tournament, as he was a member of the 2012 squad, registering six points in six games.
This announcement, although meager at the moment, is actually quite noteworthy for those who follow the organization's pipeline in a close manner. As you all know, the Rangers have been working mighty hard to build up their farm system over the past few years since the lockout, and have benefited greatly from doing so when you look at some of the younger names on the current NHL roster.
More specifically, take note of how many of those names actually participated with Team USA in this tournament prior to joining the Rangers at the NHL level. You have Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider. Those are some names that should be popping off your screen right now, because all four have already proved or are on their way to proving that they are highly talented players with a very bright future ahead of them.
The United States Junior system breeds beasts, and to be able to compete in the tournament with that organization is not only an honor, but a tremendous step in terms of development. You've seen how it has groomed players already making an impact in the NHL, so it is thrilling to now see three (possible) future Blueshirts being given that same opportunity.
That being said, you know Miller, Skjei and Fogarty are going to be giving it their absolute all in these upcoming exhibition games, because the opportunity in front of them right now is not one they would like to pass up. For a U.S. hockey player, making this Junior tournament team is like adding that impressive internship to your résumé when applying for a big job.
And above all of that, this speaks to how well Gordie Clarke and company have been picking their talents out of the draft. We're seeing their strategic work pay dividends right before our eyes.