Statistics and final scores from a scrimmage held in late June at Prospects Development Camp are quickly forgotten, but impressions made on an organization's brain trust--especially first impressions--can be invaluable to young players looking to make their way as New York Rangers.
To that end, a pair of Swedish forward prospects stood out and made positive impressions Wednesday during the the first scrimmage held at the Rangers annual Prospects Development Camp at the MSG Training Center.
Both 21 year-old Malte Stromwall, signed as a free agent this past April, and 19 year-old Robin Kovacs, a third-round selection by the Rangers in the 2015 NHL Draft, scored a pair of goals despite their White Team losing to the Blue Team by a final score of 8-5.
"I'm just trying to have fun out there," Stromwall said following the scrimmage. "We play because we love the game. I try and play with my head up and I see the ice pretty well. I like to shoot the puck. That's my strength."
Clearly Stromwall, a 25-goal scorer last season with AIK in Sweden where he was a teammate of Kovacs', played to his strengths on Wednesday. Early on in the scrimmage he used his speed and strength to create two excellent scoring opportunities for himself--one of which he whistled just past the top corner and wide of the net and the other which required a strong pad stop by goaltender Brandon Halverson.
Two shifts later Stromwall (pictured) snapped a quick shot past Halverson--the only goal the Rangers 2014 second round pick surrendered in 25 minutes of running time four-on-four hockey. Kovacs started the scoring play with a steal along the boards and a slick feed into the middle where his pass found Stromwall.
"Robin is a huge talent," Stromwall said of Kovacs. "He has great skating ability and a great shot. He has good hands and sees the ice well. He's easy to play with because his speed creates space for you and he has a knack for finding you with good passes."
Stromwall scored a power play goal against goaltender Tyler Wall, the Blueshirts sixth round selection in this past weekend's 2016 draft, in the second half of the scrimmage; and several minutes later had a clean breakaway during a three-on-three sequence which was denied by Wall.
With the White Team working on the penalty kill Kovacs twice created prime chances for his team to score--his speed causing the Blue Team's power play fits in the process. He also made a slick pass off the rush to generate an excellent scoring chance for Boo Nieves at even strength.
Kovacs then scored twice in a row, both on breakaways against Wall, to tie the score 4-4 before the Blue squad eventually pulled away.
"I feel more comfortable being here (at development camp) this year than a year ago," explained Kovacs, who scored 21 goals in 44 games with AIK last season. "I have been on ice all summer already and have prepared for this camp for a long time. I want to show them I am always prepared and ready to do my best."
Kovacs will return to Sweden to play another year at home this season and hopes to play in North America in 2017-18. The 6-foot, 185-pound Stromwall will come to training camp in the fall and will play his first season in North America this year, likely with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
"I'm ready for this," stated Stromwall. "I'll probably be in the AHL at first and that's a good landing place for me, a good place to develop this year. It's a good step. I'm still young so we'll see what happens."