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Hard Work Comes First for Lauri Pajuniemi

by Pasi Tuominen

Finnish forward Lauri Pajuniemi, a fifth-round draft choice of the Rangers in 2018, is enjoying an upward trend with TPS Turku of the Finnish Liiga.

Pajuniemi, 19, finished the regular season with five goals and 13 points in 44 games played. In late February, he clocked his career-high time-on-ice and later got some chances in the top six.

"I was able to do better and better as the season progressed," says Pajuniemi. "I started relatively slowly and was struggling a bit with self-confidence. But later things started working out and the coaches gave me more responsibility. As the playoffs started, I felt it was the best time of the year."

A skilled right-hand shot with some penalty killing chops, Pajuniemi is hoping to become a key player for TPS in the playoffs. He won't take anything for granted, though.

"I've improved my all-round game. Consequently, I've seen more time on ice on the penalty kill. I've gained more trust, but on the other hand, I wish I had scored more points during the regular season."

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Rangers Prospect Report: 03.18.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers

Three Stars of the Week

Jake Elmer agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with the Rangers on Mar. 15, and he registered three points (one goal, two assists) in two games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League (WHL) during the week. The 6-1, 190-pounder finished the regular season with a WHL career-high 18-game point streak (19 goals, 16 assists over the span), including a nine-game assist streak. Elmer established WHL career-highs in several categories in 2018-19, including goals (39), assists (42), points (81), plus/minus rating (plus-26), shorthanded goals (seven), shots on goal (253), and game-winning goals (eight). Elmer led the WHL in shorthanded goals, tied for ninth in game-winning goals, tied for 12th in goals, tied for 13th in points, and ranked 15th in shots on goal this season. In addition, Elmer received three of the Hurricanes' team awards in 2018-19: Three Stars Award, Fan Favorite Award, and Community Relations Award. Lethbridge begins the first round of the 2019 WHL Playoffs on Friday, Mar. 22 against the Calgary Hitmen.

Morgan Barron tallied two assists/points and recorded 10 shots on goal in three games during the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals, helping Cornell defeat Union, two games to one, and advance to the ECAC Hockey Semifinals in Lake Placid. In addition, Barron was named to the All-Ivy League First Team and was named a finalist for the ECAC Hockey's Best Defensive Forward award in 2018-19. The Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has tallied 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 32 games this season. Barron has registered a point 17 of the last 22 games, and he has recorded 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) over the span. Barron has tallied a point in 22 of 32 games in 2018-19 (Cornell has posted a 15-5-2 record in games which he has recorded a point this season). He leads Cornell in several categories this season, including goals, points, power play goals (six), and shots on goal (141). Barron also ranks second on Cornell in assists and ranks fourth in plus/minus rating (plus-nine) in 2018-19. He ranks third in the NCAA in shots on goal per game this season (4.41). Barron is currently one of 14 NCAA freshmen or sophomores who are averaging at least 1.00 points per game this season. Cornell plays Brown in the ECAC Hockey Semifinal on Friday, Mar. 22.

Tarmo Reunanen registered two points (one goal, one assist) and posted a plus-two rating in his final game of the regular season on Mar. 14 against Ilves, and he also recorded two points (one goal, one assist) while making his Liiga playoff debut on Mar. 16 against JYP. The Rangers' fourth round pick (98th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft tallied 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 58 games with TPS during the regular season in Liiga in 2018-19. Reunanen, who turned 21 years old on Mar. 1, 2019, led Liiga defensemen who were in their U21 season or younger in goals and points, and ranked second in assists during the regular season in 2018-19. Over the last 10 seasons (since 2009-10), Reunanen is one of five defensemen in Liiga who recorded at least 25 points in either their U21 season or younger (along with Sami Vatanen, Esa Lindell, Ville Pokka, and Sami Niku). He also ranked 12th in Liiga in average ice time during the regular season (21:14), and he ranked second among players who are in their U21 season or younger in the league in average ice time.

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Elmer Excited to Show Rangers What He Can Do After Signing ELC

by Michael Obernauer

It was either 2½ hours or 12½, and it was either too early or just in the nick of time. It all depends upon your point of view, and Jake Elmer is the kind of hockey player who knows where he stands.

Elmer was born on Dec. 31, 1998 - "it was at 9:30," he says, "but whether it was a.m. or p.m. I just don't know." It is a birthdate that by conventional wisdom puts a hockey player at a disadvantage before he even loses the umbilical cord.

"Not a lot of guys are born December 31," Elmer said in an interview with NYRangers.com. "It's a pretty cool little fact about me. And it's always given me something to prove."

Of course, the timing back in 1998 is something that Jake had no control over (his parents, different story), but if the chronology of his life has brought him to the point he is at today, then he doesn't want to complain about one detail. He is right in the thick of the best hockey season of his life, playing for a Lethbridge Hurricanes team that is expected to make a run at a championship. For the week ending March 3, he was named the Western Hockey League Player of the Week, a window of recognition for a season stretch drive during which Elmer has put together a 18-game point streak and scored in 13 straight games.

On Friday he reached a major milestone of his hockey life: At 20 years, 75 days old, Jake Elmer signed a contract with the New York Rangers.

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Rangers Prospect Report: 03.11.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers

Vitali Kravtsov tallied an assist, recorded four shots on goal, and posted a plus-two rating in Game 4 of Traktor's Quarterfinals series against Avtomobilist; the game was Kravtsov's final contest of the KHL season, as Traktor was eliminated. The Rangers' first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft tied for the team lead in assists (two), ranked second on Traktor in shots on goal (12), and tied for second in points (two) and plus/minus rating (plus-one) in the playoffs this year. Kravtsov is tied for first among KHL players younger than 20 years old in assists and points in the playoffs this year. Kravtsov skated in 50 regular season games with Traktor in 2018-19, registering eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points, along with six penalty minutes. He led all KHL players younger than 20 years old in goals, assists, and points this season. Kravtsov's 21 points in 2018-19 are tied for the ninth-most by a KHL player younger than 20 years old in league history (tied with Artemi Panarin, who recorded 21 points in 2010-11), and his 13 assists in 2018-19 are tied for the eighth-most by a KHL player younger than 20 years old in the league's history. In addition, Kravtsov represented Traktor at the 2019 KHL All-Star Game. He tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (three), ranked third on Traktor in points and shots on goal (114), tied for third in assists, and tied for fourth in goals during the regular season in 2018-19. Kravtsov has recorded 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 26 career playoff games in the KHL. During the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs, he tallied 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 16 games; in the process, he recorded more playoff points in one year than any other teenager has in their career in KHL history. Kravtsov's seven career playoff assists and 14 career playoff points are the most by a teenager in KHL history, and his seven career playoff goals are the second-most in KHL history, trailing only Evgeny Kuznetsov (eight).

K'Andre Miller's freshman season concluded on Mar. 10 when the University of Wisconsin was eliminated by Penn State in the Big Ten Quarterfinals. Miller, who missed the final nine games of the season due to injury, registered 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) and posted a plus-seven rating in 2018-19. Among NCAA freshmen defensemen who have skated in at least 25 games this season, Miller ranks first in assists per game (0.65) and points per game (0.85). In addition, in the 26 games Miller played with Wisconsin this season, he was on the ice for 37 of the 76 goals the team scored (48.7%).

Here is how Miller, who finished the 2018-19 season with 26 games played, compares to other defensemen recently selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft through their first 26 career games in the NCAA:

Morgan Barron finished the regular season with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 29 games with Cornell, and Cornell will begin the ECAC Quarterfinals on Mar. 15. Entering the ECAC Quarterfinals, the Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has registered a point 15 of the last 19 games, and he has recorded 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) over the span. Barron has tallied a point in 20 of 29 games in 2018-19 (Cornell has posted a 14-4-2 record in games which he has recorded a point this season). He leads Cornell in several categories this season, including goals, points, power play goals (six), and shots on goal (131). Barron also ranks second on Cornell in assists and ranks third in plus/minus rating (plus-10) in 2018-19. He ranks third in the NCAA in shots on goal per game this season (4.52). Barron is averaging 1.03 points per game in 2018-19, and he is tied for eighth in points per game among NCAA players who are either in their freshman or sophomore year.

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Goalie Prospect Tyler Wall Focused on Taking His Game to the Next Level

by Shawn Hutcheon

The Rangers selected Tyler Wall in the sixth round (174th overall) of the 2016 NHL Dntry Draft after he posted an outstanding season with Leamington of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Most junior players in Canada who are drafted come out of the three major junior leagues, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and the Western Hockey League (WHL). For Wall, it was a bit of a surprise to be selected from the GOJHL.

"I really didn't think I had a shot (at being drafted) playing in Junior B," Wall said. "I had a pretty good year but a lot of people don't take much notice of that league and so I was pretty surprised when everything fell into place there.

"It was surreal. I mean, an original six team with such an amazing fan-base. You couldn't really ask for a better team than the Rangers."

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Rangers Prospect Report: 03.04.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

  • Yegor Rykov recorded three assists/points, posted a plus-one rating, and averaged 22:52 of ice time per game over four playoff games with HC Sochi during the week. Rykov led HC Sochi in ice time in each of the final three games during the week, logging more than 23:00 of ice time in each game, and he ranks ninth among KHL defensemen in average ice time thus far in the playoffs. In addition, Rykov leads all KHL defensemen younger than 22 years old in average ice time thus far during the Gagarin Cup Playoffs. Among all KHL players younger than 22 years old (forwards and defensemen), Rykov is tied for first in assists and points in the playoffs this year, and he leads KHL defensemen younger than 22 years old in both categories. He is tied for second among all KHL defensemen in assists and is tied for fourth among all KHL defensemen in points in the playoffs this year.
  • Vitali Kravtsov registered an assist in Game 2 of Traktor's playoff series against Avtomobilist on Feb. 28, and he has recorded eight shots on goal through the first three games of the series. The Rangers' first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, who led all KHL players younger than 20 years old in goals (eight), assists (13), and points (21) during the regular season in 2018-19, is one of six KHL players who are in their U20 season or younger who have tallied a point in the 2019 Gagarin Cup Playoffs. Kravtsov has registered 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 25 career Gagarin Cup Playoff games; last year, Kravtsov registered six goals and five assists for 11 points in the playoffs, and his 11 points were the most a KHL junior player (younger than 20 years old) registered in one playoff year in the league's history, eclipsing the previous record of nine held by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Valeri Nichushkin.
  • Joey Keane agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with the Rangers on Mar. 4. The Rangers' third round pick (88th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft also recorded a goal and posted a plus-three rating on Mar. 2 at Hamilton. Keane has skated in 61 games in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this season with the Barrie Colts and London Knights, registering eight goals and 29 assists for 37 points, along with a plus-14 rating and 91 penalty minutes. He is one of 11 OHL defensemen who have registered 37 or more points and have posted a plus-14 rating or better thus far this season. Keane ranks third among OHL defensemen in penalty minutes, ranks 10th among OHL defensemen in shots on goal (167), is tied for 11th among OHL defensemen in power play assists (13), is tied for 13th among OHL defensemen in power play goals (four), and is tied for 17th among OHL defensemen in assists and points this season.
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Rangers Prospect Report: 02.25.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

  • Igor Shesterkin posted a shutout in each of his two appearances during the week, and he stopped all 53 shots he faced in the two contests. The Rangers' fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft posted a 24-3-1 record, along with a 1.11 GAA, a .953 SV%, and 10 SO in 28 KHL appearances with SKA St. Petersburg during the regular season in 2018-19. Shesterkin led the KHL in both GAA and SV%, and he was tied for first in the KHL in shutouts this season. In addition, his 1.11 GAA is the second-best GAA a goaltender has posted in one season in KHL history, and his .953 SV% in 2018-19 is tied for the second-best a goaltender has posted in one season in league history. In addition, he became the fourth different goaltender to earn at least 10 shutouts in one season in KHL history. Shesterkin concluded the regular season by earning a win in each of his last 10 appearances. He posted a 0.60 GAA, a .974 SV% (222 saves on 228 shots), and 5 SO over the 10 appearances, and he allowed one goal or fewer in nine of the 10 games. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Shesterkin has posted a 79-9-4 record, along with a 1.49 GAA, a .940 SV%, and 25 SO in 95 KHL appearances. In his KHL career, Shesterkin has posted a 1.68 GAA, a .935 SV%, and 27 SO. Among goaltenders who have made 50 career KHL appearances, Shesterkin's career 1.68 GAA is the best in league history and his career .935 SV% is the second-best in league history. Shesterkin begins the Conference Quarterfinals with SKA in the 2019 Gagarin Cup Playoffs on Feb. 26 against Spartak.
  • Vitali Kravtsov concluded the 2018-19 KHL regular season with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 50 games with Traktor. The Rangers' first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft led all KHL players younger than 20 years old in goals, assists, and points this season. The 21 points Kravtsov recorded this season are tied for the ninth-most by a KHL player younger than 20 years old in the league's history (tied with Artemi Panarin). In addition, he became the eighth different player in KHL history to register 20 or more points in a season when they were younger than 20 years old (along with Panarin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Pavel Buchnevich, Kirill Kaprizov, Eeli Tolvanen, and Nikita Filatov). Kravtsov tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (three), ranked third on Traktor in points and shots on goal (114), tied for third in assists, and tied for fourth in goals this season. Kravtsov begins the Conference Quarterfinals with Traktor in the 2019 Gagarin Cup Playoffs on Feb. 26 against Avtomobilist.
  • Morgan Barron tallied a goal and posted a plus-one rating on Feb. 23 against Union. The Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has registered a point 14 of the last 17 games, and he has recorded 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) over the span. Barron has registered 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 27 games with Cornell this season, and he has tallied a point in 19 of those 27 games (Cornell has posted a 13-4-2 record in games which he has recorded a point this season). He leads Cornell in several categories this season, including goals, points, power play goals (six), and shots on goal (128). Barron is also tied for second on Cornell in assists and ranks third in plus/minus rating (plus-nine) in 2018-19. He is tied for second in the NCAA in shots on goal per game this season (4.74). Barron is averaging 1.07 points per game in 2018-19, which is tied for 28th among all players in the NCAA. In addition, Barron ranks ninth in points per game among NCAA players who are either in their freshman or sophomore year. He has already established collegiate career-highs in goals, assists, and points this season.
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Rangers Prospect Report: 02.18.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

  • Igor Shesterkin stopped 27 of 28 shots and earned a win on Feb. 11 against Severstal. The Rangers' fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has earned a win in each of his last eight appearances, and he has posted a 0.75 GAA, a .966 SV%, and 3 SO over the span; Shesterkin has allowed one goal or fewer in seven of those eight appearances. Shesterkin has posted a 22-3-1 record, along with a 1.19 GAA, a .949 SV%, and 8 SO in 26 KHL appearances with SKA this season. He leads the KHL in SV% and ranks second in the league in GAA in 2018-19. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Shesterkin has posted a 77-9-4 record, along with a 1.53 GAA, a .939 SV%, and 23 SO in 93 KHL appearances.
  • Vitali Kravtsov registered a goal on Feb. 11 against Neftekhimik, and he tallied a goal in the shootout on Feb. 13 against Severstal. The Rangers' first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has tallied 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 47 KHL games with Traktor this season. Kravtsov leads all KHL players younger than 20 years old in goals, assists, and points this season. Kravtsov's 21 points thus far this season are tied for the ninth-most by a KHL player younger than 20 years old in the league's history (tied with Artemi Panarin).

  • Tarmo Reunanen recorded a point in two of three games during the week (one goal, one assist), and he also logged at least 22:00 of ice time in two of the three contests. The Rangers' fourth round pick (98th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has logged at least 24:00 of ice time in 17 of the last 23 games, as well as 25:00 or more of ice time in 10 of the last 19 games and 26:00 or more of ice time in seven of the last 17 contests. In addition, Reunanen has notched 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in the last 24 games, including eight points (one goal, seven assists) in the last 15 contests. He has recorded 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in 50 games with Lukko in Liiga (Finland's top league) this season, and he has established Liiga career-highs in goals, assists, and points. Among defensemen who are younger than 21 years old in Liiga, Reunanen ranks first in goals and points, and he ranks second in assists thus far this season. Since 2011-12, only five defensemen younger than 21 years old in Liiga have tallied more points in one season than Reunanen has thus far in 2018-19 (Sami Vatanen, Esa Lindell, Ville Pokka, Sami Niku, and Miro Heiskanen). Reunanen ranks 13th among all players in Liiga in average ice time in 2018-19 (21:19), and he ranks second among players younger than 21 years old in the league in average ice time this season.
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Rangers Prospect Report: 02.11.19

by New York Rangers @NYRangers

Three Stars of the Week

Morgan Barron registered three points (one goal, two assists) in two games during the week, and he tallied the game-winning goal on Feb. 9 vs. St. Lawrence. The Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft extended his point streak to five games (four goals, four assists over the span), and he has tallied a point 12 of the last 13 games (seven goals, 13 assists in the last 13 games). In addition, Barron has posted a multi-point game in eight of the last 11 games (seven goals, 11 assists over the span).

Barron has registered 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 23 games with Cornell this season, and he has tallied a point in 17 of those 23 games (Cornell has posted a 12-3-2 record in games which he has recorded a point this season). He leads Cornell in several categories this season, including goals, assists, points, power play goals (six), and shots on goal (114). Barron also ranks third in plus/minus rating in 2018-19 (plus-12). He ranks third in the NCAA in shots on goal per game this season (4.96). Barron is averaging 1.17 points per game in 2018-19, which is tied for 18th among all players in the NCAA. In addition, Barron ranks fourth in points per game among NCAA players who are either in their freshman or sophomore year (as well as fourth among NCAA players who are younger than 21 years old). He has already established collegiate career-highs in goals, assists, and points this season.

Tyler Wall stopped all 28 shots to earn a win and a shutout on Feb. 8 against Boston College, and he was selected as the game's First Star. The Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, who was named the Hockey East's Defensive Player of the Week for the week ending on Feb. 3, has earned a win in each of his last four appearances, posting a 0.50 GAA, a .981 SV% (103 saves on 105 shots), and 2 SO over the span, and he has allowed one goal or fewer in each game during the stretch. Wall has posted a 9-6-1 record, along with a 1.77 GAA, a .933 SV%, and 4 SO in 16 appearances with UMass-Lowell this season, and he has allowed one goal or fewer in seven of those 16 appearances. Wall is tied for third in the NCAA in SV%, ranks fourth in the NCAA in GAA, and is tied for fifth in the NCAA in shutouts in 2018-19. He has already established an NCAA career-high in shutouts this season.

Riley Hughes recorded an assist/point in all three games during the week, registering five points (two goals, three assists) in the three contests. The Rangers' seventh round pick (216th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft extended his point streak to six games (three goals, seven assists) and his assist streak to five games, and he has posted four multi-point games over the last five contests. Hughes has tallied 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in 49 BCHL games with Victoria in 2018-19. He ranks fourth among BCHL rookies in goals and points, and he also ranks fifth among BCHL rookies in assists this season.

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Adam Huska's Work Ethic Impresses in Third Season at UConn

by Michael Logan / NYRangers.com

STORRS,CT -- It is 8 a.m., about five hours prior to practice and the Huskies are coming off a tough loss to Sacred Heart University the night before. But goalie Adam Huska is already in gear working on defending creases, slides and conditioning. A seventh round draft pick of the Rangers in 2015, Huska is in his third season at the University of Connecticut.

After practicing with the entire team, Huska stays on the ice. The goalie will continue to work on defending the crease, slides, watch film and even have some fun with his teammates by taking shots on goal. His level of positivity has been a major strength to his team in a down year. Fellow goalie and teammate Tomas Vomacka said Huska is the type of player that his teammates gravitate toward due to his willingness to lend a helping hand.

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