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Preseason's here for some prospects

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Kreider, Bourque Eye Team USA

Werek in Running for Team Canada
Czech/Slovak Preseason Prospect Watch

Just under two months remain until the Rangers begin their 2010 preseason schedule, but the preseason has already begun for Rangers prospects playing in Europe and auditioning for North American national junior teams.

On Tuesday, Lukas Zeliska, a Slovak forward selected in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, became the first member of the Rangers reserve list to compete in a 2010 preseason game. Zeliska's MHC Martin team of the Slovak Extraliga beat HK Poprad 2-0 at home.

Two Rangers prospects with bright pro hockey futures will also be back at work on Friday, when the USA National Junior Evaluation Camp begins in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Forwards Chris Kreider, the Rangers' 2009 first-round pick, and Ryan Bourque, a 2009 third-rounder, will be competing for spots on the 2011 U.S. World Junior Championship roster. Last year, both Kreider and Bourque played on the USA team that upset Canada for the gold medal in Saskatchewan. This time around, they'll be looking to defend their gold on home soil in Buffalo.

Kreider, entering his sophomore year at Boston College, and Bourque, who plays major-junior hockey with the Quebec Remparts, grew up in the same town of Boxford, Mass., and hope to be NHL teammates with the Blueshirts one day. Earlier this month, they took part in the team's annual Development Camp for prospects, and both are all but a lock to return to the World Juniors with Team USA.

The U.S. team is scheduled to play several games during its development camp with the first coming next Tuesday against Sweden.

Also next Tuesday, fellow Rangers prospect Ethan Werek will begin his quest for a spot on Canada's World Junior roster, when the Canadian National Junior Team Evaluation Camp gets under way in Newfoundland. The Canadians will not play other nations in their preseason camp, but do have an important Red-White scrimmage set for Saturday, Aug. 7.

Other Rangers prospects and members of the reserve list who will be on ice over the next seven days include Roman Psurny, whose Ceske Budejovice team in the Czech Extraliga opens preseason play on Thursday, and defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen. The former Hartford blueliner, a restricted free agent who saw limited action with the Rangers in 2009-10, is playing in Novosibirsk, Russia, this season.

Keep an eye on through the remainder of the summer for updates on the progress of Rangers prospects and others on the Rangers reserve list.
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