Three Rangers prospects – Brandon Halverson (United States), Adam Huska (Slovakia), and Aleksi Saarela (Finland) – are representing their country in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Saarela tallied two goals, recorded four shots on goal, and was selected as Finland’s Player of the Game on Dec. 28 against Russia. The Rangers’ third round pick (89th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft recorded a goal on Dec. 30 against Slovakia, and he notched two points (one goal, one assist) in Finland’s 6-5 win against Canada in the Quarterfinals on Jan. 2.
Saarela is tied for first among all skaters in the tournament in power play goals (three), is tied for fourth in goals (four), and is tied for 11th in points (six). He has also registered 16 shots on goal and has posted a plus-two rating in five games thus far in the tournament.
Huska made 32 saves and was selected as Slovakia’s Player of the Game on Dec. 28 against Czech Republic. The Rangers’ seventh round pick (184th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft made 25 saves on Dec. 31 against Russia and made 49 saves in Slovakia’s Quarterfinals loss against Sweden on Jan. 2.
Huska finished the tournament with 169 saves in five appearances (33.8 saves per game). As of the conclusion of the week, Huska led all goaltenders in the tournament in saves.
Halverson stopped all 20 shots he faced in relief on Dec. 30 against Switzerland. In addition, the Rangers’ second round pick (59th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft stopped 16 of 17 shots he faced and earned a win on Dec. 31 against Denmark.
In two games in the tournament, Halverson has posted a 0.65 GAA and a .973 SV%. In three appearances in the IIHF World Junior Championship over the last two years, Halverson has posted a 0.40 GAA and a .980 SV% (50 saves on 51 shots). Halverson is the first goaltender who was drafted by the Rangers to play in two consecutive IIHF World Junior Championships (2015 and 2016) since Henrik Lundqvist with Sweden in 2001 and 2002.
(Note: Al Montoya played in the 2004 and 2005 IIHF World Junior Championships, but he had not been drafted by the Rangers at the time of the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championship)
Emerging From the Pack
Ryan Graves posted a three-game assist/point streak during the past week, registering four assists over the span. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (110th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft notched an assist, recorded five shots on goal, and posted a plus-two rating on Dec. 29 vs. Providence, and he established a single-game AHL career-high with two assists on Jan. 2 vs. Albany. Graves has tallied six points (two goals, four assists) in the last 11 games.
Mat Bodie registered a three-game point streak during the past week, tallying three points (one goal, two assists) over the span. He has recorded a point in four of the last five games (one goal, three assists), in five of the last eight games (one goal, four assists), and in seven of the last 12 contests (one goal, six assists).
Ryan Bourque tallied a goal/point in each of Hartford’s first two games during the past week (two goals). Bourque has registered a point in three of the last four games (two goals, one assist) and he has notched seven points (three goals, four assists) in the last 13 contests. He is tied for fourth on the Wolf Pack in goals (seven) and ranks fifth in points (15) this season.
Ryan Gropp, LW, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) – The Rangers agreed to terms with Gropp on an entry-level contract on Dec. 31. The Rangers’ second round pick (41st overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft leads Seattle in goals this season (18).
Keegan Iverson, RW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL) – Iverson registered two goals on Jan. 2 vs. Spokane. The Rangers’ third round pick (85th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has recorded 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in his last 18 games.
Robin Kovacs, RW, AIK (Allsvenskan) – Kovacs tallied the game-winning shot in the shootout in AIK’s 4-3 win against IF Björklöven on Dec. 29. The Rangers’ third round pick (62nd overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is tied for fifth in Allsvenskan (min. four goals) in goals per game (0.46; 13 goals in 28 games) and he is tied for 11th in the league in goals this season. Kovacs leads all players younger than 20 years old in Allsvenskan in goals and points (21) in 2015-16.
Ryan Mantha, D, Niagara IceDogs (OHL) – Mantha posted a season-high three-game assist/point streak during the past week, registering four points (one goal, three assists) over the span. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (104th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft notched an assist and posted a plus-one rating on Dec. 29 at Sudbury and on Dec. 31 vs. Kitchener. Mantha also recorded two points (one goal, one assist) and posted a plus-two rating on Jan. 2 vs. Ottawa. He has tallied eight points (one goal, seven assists) in the last 11 games, including six points (one goal, five assists) in the last six games.
Brad Morrison, C, Prince George Cougars (WHL) – Morrison tallied three points (two goals, one assist) in four games during the past week. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (113th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft recorded two points (one goal, one assist) on Dec. 30 at Vancouver. Morrison has notched 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in the last 16 games, including nine points (five goals, four assists) in the last nine games.
Cristoval Nieves, C, University of Michigan (NCAA) – Nieves tallied an assist/point in each of the Wolverines’ two games in the Great Lakes Invitational, helping the University of Michigan win the tournament for the 17th time in the school’s history. The Rangers’ second round pick (59th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft recorded the primary assist on the game-winning goal in the championship game on Dec. 30 vs. Michigan Tech.
Sergey Zborovskiy, D, Regina Pats (WHL) – Zborovskiy tallied a point in two of Regina’s four games during the past week (one goal, one assist). The Rangers’ third round pick (79th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft recorded a goal and posted a plus-two rating on Dec. 30 at Prince Albert. After registering 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in 71 games during his rookie season in the WHL in 2014-15, Zborovskiy has notched 13 points (five goals, eight assists) through his first 33 games of the 2015-16 season.