Brandon Halverson will be one of the United States’ two goaltenders at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. The Rangers’ second round pick (59th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft also represented the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, posting a shutout in his only appearance of the tournament.
Rangers prospects 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 and each of their country’s respective rosters have not been finalized as of Dec. 21.
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
Brad Morrison, C, Prince George Cougars (WHL) – Morrison registered five points (two goals, three assists) in three games during the past week. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (113th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft tallied two assists, including one on the game-winning goal, and posted a plus-two rating on Dec. 15 at Seattle. Morrison posted his fifth three-point game of the season on Dec. 19 vs. Victoria, recording two goals and one assist, as well as a plus-three rating, in the contest.
Morrison has registered a point in seven of the last nine games, tallying 11 points (five goals, six assists) over the span. In addition, he has recorded 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in the last 11 games, 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in the last 13 games, and 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in the last 21 contests.
The 18-year-old ranks third on Prince George in points (28), and is tied for third on the team in goals (12) and assists (16) in 2015-16.
Ryan Gropp, LW, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) – Gropp tallied a point in two of three games this past week, registering three points (two goals, one assist) in those contests. He notched an assist on Dec. 18 vs. Tri-City and registered two goals on Dec. 19 at Tri-City. Gropp has recorded a point in eight of the last ten games, tallying 12 points (five goals, seven assists) over the span.
The Rangers’ second round pick (41st overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has recorded a point in 14 of the last 19 games, including a goal in ten of those contests, tallying 23 points (13 goals, ten assists) over the span. In addition, he has registered a point in 16 of the last 23 contests, including a goal in 12 of those games, notching 28 points (16 goals, 12 assists) during the stretch. In his last 32 WHL regular season games (dating back to last season), Gropp has registered 24 goals and 15 assists for 39 points. Including last year’s playoffs, Gropp has tallied 47 points (25 goals, 22 assists) in his last 38 contests.
Gropp leads Seattle in goals (18), is tied for third on Seattle in plus/minus rating (plus-seven), ranks fourth in points (32), and ranks fifth in assists (14) this season.
Igor Shesterkin, G, SKA-Neva (VHL) – In two appearances with SKA-Neva this past week, Shesterkin posted a 1-1-0 record, along with a 1.01 GAA, a .960 SV% (48 saves on 50 shots), and 1 SO. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft stopped 23 of 25 shots he faced on Dec. 15 against Zauralye, and he stopped all 25 shots he faced to earn a win and a shutout on Dec. 17 against Rubin.
In his last 21 appearances (KHL and VHL games included), Shesterkin has posted a 15-3-3 record, along with a 1.08 GAA, a .958 SV%, and 6 SO. He has allowed two goals or fewer in 20 of the 21 appearances over the span, including all 18 of his appearances in the VHL during the stretch. In addition, he has allowed one goal or fewer in 14 of his last 21 appearances.
Emerging from the Pack
Brady Skjei recorded an assist and posted a plus-one rating on Dec. 19 at Utica. The Rangers’ first round pick (28th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has registered four assists/points in his last three AHL games. Skjei has tallied a point in eight of his last 15 AHL games (two goals, eight assists over the span), and he has notched 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in his last 19 AHL games. Skjei is tied for the team lead in assists (11) and ranks fifth on the Wolf Pack in points (13) in 2015-16. In addition, he leads team defensemen in assists and points.
Adam Tambellini registered a goal in regulation and tallied a shootout goal on Dec. 19 at Utica. The Rangers’ third round pick (65th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft ranks second on the Wolf Pack in goals this season (seven).
Pavel Buchnevich, LW, SKA-St. Petersburg (KHL) – Buchnevich was traded from Severstal to SKA St. Petersburg on Dec. 20. SKA St. Petersburg is the defending Gagarin Cup Champion and its head coach is former Rangers defenseman Sergei Zubov.
Robin Kovacs, RW, AIK (Allsvenskan) – Kovacs registered a primary assist in AIK’s game on Dec. 15 against Asplöven HC. The Rangers’ third round pick (62nd overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has tallied six points (three goals, three assists) in the last six games and has registered 20 points (12 goals, eight assists) in 26 games with AIK this season. He leads all players younger than 20 years old in Allsvenskan in goals and points in 2015-16.
Ryan Mantha, D, Niagara IceDogs (OHL) – Mantha tied single-game OHL career-highs with two assists/points and posted a plus-one rating on Dec. 17 vs. Sudbury. The Rangers’ fourth round pick (104th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has tallied four assists in the last seven games and eight assists in the last 15 contests. Mantha ranks third among Niagara defensemen in assists (nine) and points (11) this season.