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Rangers Prospect Report: 12.14.15

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

2016 IIHF World Junior Championship

During the past week, Rangers prospects Brandon Halverson (United States), Adam Huska (Slovakia), Aleksi Saarela (Finland), and Sergey Zborovskiy (Russia) were selected to their respective country’s preliminary roster for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. This year’s tournament is being held in Helsinki, Finland and will take place from Dec. 26, 2015 to Jan. 5, 2016.

Three Stars of the Week

Adam Huska, G, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – Huska was named the USHL Goaltender of the Week for the past week. He was selected as the league’s Goaltender of the Week for the second time this season (also for the week ending on Nov. 22). Huska posted back-to-back shutouts on Dec. 11 vs. Madison and on Dec. 12 at Chicago, making 43 saves over the two games.

The Rangers’ seventh round pick (184th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has posted a 2-1-0 record, along with a 0.34 GAA, a .987 SV% (77 saves on 78 shots), and 2 SO in his last three appearances. In addition, Huska has posted an 11-4-0 record, along with a 1.39 GAA, a .952 SV%, and 4 SO in his last 15 appearances. He has allowed one goal or fewer in 10 of the 15 appearances over the span.

Huska leads the USHL in GAA (1.65), SV% (.942), and SO (four), is tied for third in wins (11), and ranks fifth in saves (439) and time on ice (980:09) this season. Huska is the only goaltender in the USHL who has posted a GAA better than 2.00 thus far in 2015-16.

Brad Morrison, C, Prince George Cougars (WHL) – Morrison registered a goal/point in two of the three games he played during the past week, recording three goals in those contests. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (113th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft posted his second multi-goal game of the season on Dec. 8, tallying two goals and registering a plus-three rating against Kootenay. Morrison also notched a power play goal with 6:07 remaining in regulation, which was the game-winning goal, on Dec. 12 at Portland.

Morrison has registered a point in five of the last six games, tallying six points (three goals, three assists) over the span. In addition, he has recorded nine points (four goals, five assists) in the last eight games, ten points (four goals, six assists) in the last ten games, and 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in the last 18 contests.

The 18-year-old ranks third on Prince George in points (23), is tied for third on the team in goals (ten), and ranks fifth on the team in assists (13) in 2015-16.

Ryan Gropp, LW, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) – Gropp tallied an assist/point in two of three games this past week, registering three assists in those contests. He recorded two primary assists and posted a plus-one rating on Dec. 11 vs. Spokane. Gropp has recorded a point in six of the last seven games, tallying nine points (three goals, six assists) over the span.

The Rangers’ second round pick (41st overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has also recorded a point in 12 of the last 16 games, including a goal in nine of those contests, tallying 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) over the span. In addition, he has registered a point in 14 of the last 20 contests, including a goal in 11 of those games, notching 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) during the stretch. In his last 29 WHL regular season games (dating back to last season), Gropp has registered 22 goals and 14 assists for 36 points. Including last year’s playoffs, Gropp has tallied 44 points (23 goals, 21 assists) in his last 35 contests.

Gropp is tied for the team lead in goals (16), is tied for second on Seattle in plus/minus rating (plus-11), ranks fourth in points (29), and is tied for fourth in assists (13) this season.

Emerging from the Pack

Brady Skjei posted his first career AHL multi-assist/point game on Dec. 12 vs. Bridgeport, tallying two assists while helping the Wolf Pack earn a 4-2 win. The Rangers’ first round pick (28th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has tallied a point in seven of the last 14 games (two goals, six assists over the span), and he has notched nine points (two goals, seven assists) in the last 18 games. Skjei leads Wolf Pack defensemen in assists (nine) and points (11) this season.

Quick Hits

Pavel Buchnevich, LW, Severstal Cherepovets (KHL) – Buchnevich tallied an assist on Dec. 9 against Torpedo. He has tallied 17 assists with Severstal in 2015-16, tying his KHL career-high. The Rangers’ third round pick (75th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has recorded ten points (five goals, five assists) in the last 12 games, including six points (two goals, four assists) in the last eight games.

In addition, Buchnevich has registered a point in 13 of his last 23 games (six goals, 11 assists over the span). Buchnevich has tallied a point in 17 of his last 27 games (eight goals, 13 assists) and in 21 of his last 33 contests (11 goals, 16 assists). Dating back to last season, Buchnevich has registered 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in his last 64 games in the KHL. Buchnevich has recorded 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists) in his last 54 KHL contests, including 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in his last 45 games in the KHL.

PAVEL BUCHNEVICH – 2014-15 AND 2015-16 COMPARISON

SEASON

GP

G

A

PTS

G/GP

A/GP

P/GP

2014-15

48

13

17

30

0.27

0.35

0.63

2015-16

40

12

17

29

0.30

0.43

0.73

*Note: His 2014-15 totals in goals, assists, and points were all KHL career-highs entering this season

In his first 140 KHL regular season games, Buchnevich has tallied 33 goals and 46 assists for 79 points. Here is where Buchnevich ranks compared to current NHL players Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeny Kuznetsov through their first 140 KHL games:

PAVEL BUCHNEVICH, VLADIMIR TARASENKO, AND EVGENY KUZNETSOV THROUGH THEIR FIRST 140 KHL REGULAR SEASON GAMES

PLAYER

G

A

PTS

Evgeny Kuznetsov

43

52

95

Pavel Buchnevich

33

46

79

Vladimir Tarasenko

39

34

73

Brandon Halverson, G, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) – Halverson made a season-high 40 saves and was selected as the game’s First Star while leading the Greyhounds to a 4-1 win on Dec. 10 at Peterborough. With the win, the Rangers’ second round pick (59th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft extended his winning streak to a season-high four games. In five appearances in December, Halverson has posted a 4-1-0 record, along with a 2.40 GAA and a .928 SV%. In addition, he has made at least 30 saves in 11 of his 19 starts in 2015-16.

Robin Kovacs, RW, AIK (Allsvenskan) – Kovacs registered two points (one goal, one assist), including the game-winning goal, on Dec. 11 against Mora IK. In addition, he registered a shootout goal to help AIK earn a win on Dec. 9 against VIK Hockey. The Rangers’ third round pick (62nd overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has tallied 19 points (12 goals, seven assists) in 25 games with AIK this season. The 19-year-old is tied for seventh in Allsvenskan – and leads all players 20 years old or younger – in goals this season. In addition, Kovacs leads all players 20 years old or younger in Allsvenskan in points in 2015-16.

Cristoval Nieves, C, University of Michigan (NCAA) – Nieves tallied a goal in Michigan’s 8-3 win against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 11. The Rangers’ second round pick (59th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has recorded six points (three goals, three assists) and has posted a plus-four rating over the last six games, including four points (two goals, two assists) in the last three contests. Nieves has notched ten points (four goals, six assists) and has posted a plus-five rating in 12 games this season, and Michigan has registered a 7-2-3 record when Nieves has been in the lineup. Dating back to last season, Nieves has tallied 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in his last 41 games.

Igor Shesterkin, G, SKA-St. Petersburg (KHL) – Shesterkin made 20 saves to earn a win in his third KHL appearance of the season on Dec. 11 against Metallurg. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has posted a 3-0-0 record, along with a 1.65 GAA, a .942 SV% (81 saves on 86 shots), and 1 SO in three KHL appearances this season. In his last 19 appearances this season (VHL and KHL appearances included), Shesterkin has posted a 14-2-3 record, along with a 1.09 GAA, a .957 SV%, and 5 SO. He has allowed 21 goals over the 19 appearances.

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