Fans eager to see the 2009-10 hockey season get under way won't even have to wait a full month to see players competing in Rangers uniform.
The first group to represent the Rangers in 2009-10 will be a team of prospects that hits the ice on Sunday, Sept. 6, in Traverse City, Mich. The prospects will take part in the annual Traverse City Prospects Tournament at the Detroit Red Wings' training facility.
|Evgeny Grachev played on the Rangers' prospects team at Traverse City last year, setting the stage for a dominating rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League. |
This marks the fourth consecutive year that a team of Rangers prospects will be going to Traverse City for the eight-team tournament. Two years ago, the Blueshirts went undefeated in four games to win the 2007 championship, beating Columbus in the title game. Last year, the Rangers got off to a slow start but finished in sixth place, beating Tampa Bay and St. Louis in their last two games.
Competing in the tournament's Eastern Conference group, the Rangers will play round-robin games against Atlanta, Carolina and the host Detroit team. Their placement in the round-robin will determine who they face in the championship round that concludes the tournament.
On Sept. 6, the prospects open play against Carolina, followed by games against Atlanta on Sept. 7 and Detroit on the evening of Sept. 9. That game promises to be a thriller, since the Red Wings are the overwhelming crowd favorites at this tournament each year, and their games draw a capacity crowd to the relatively small Republic Rink in Traverse City.
Should the Blueshirts place first in the Eastern Division, the Rangers would face the Western champion for the tournament title on Sept. 10. Regardless of their finish, they will appear in at least one of the Sept. 10 placement games. This year's Western Conference teams are Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota and St. Louis.
The tournament's Sept. 10 conclusion gives the Rangers prospects ample time to return to the MSG Training Center for the team's main training camp, which begins the following week. As has been the case in past years, many members of the prospects team will be participating in the main camp.
Many of the Rangers' recent draft picks -- outside of those playing college hockey -- are expected to participate in the tournament, which has been a launching pad for the pro careers of current Rangers such as Marc Staal
, Ryan Callahan
and Brandon Dubinsky
Look for a complete Traverse City roster here on newyorkrangers.com in the days leading up to the tournament.