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Hajek Progressing Well with Wolf Pack

by Bob Crawford / NYRangers.com

When 20-year-old defenseman Libor Hajek speaks, a word he uses often is "experience".

Hajek is still a very young player, experience-wise, but he has already tasted of multiple different important experiences in his hockey career, and is gaining valuable experience on the Hartford Wolf Pack blue line, as a prime prospect for the Rangers.

Hajek has been a regular for the Wolf Pack since day one, logging major minutes as part of a very young Hartford defense corps. After three years of Western Hockey League action, the Smrcek, Czech Republic native has found it to be a big jump to full-time duty in the AHL, but has been excited for the opportunity to learn under pressure.

"It's hard, coming here from Junior, being a pro," Hajek said recently. "But I learn, each and every day, guys helping me lots, coaches helping me. It's good."

Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge, himself a former WHL defenseman, has been encouraged by Hajek's steady development.

"He's made good strides, his game has grown," McCambridge commented. "There's been a learning curve, obviously, that takes place with a first-year player, and even more so with a defenseman, with the pressure situations that take place being that last line of defense, but we like where he's at right now. He's a real powerful skater, he's been able to adjust and be quicker with getting back for pucks and being able to, before he gets the puck, have a strong awareness of where that first pass is going to be, and where the pressure is coming from, from the opposition. We like the strides and traction of where his game is going right now."

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Rangers Prospect Report: 12.17.18

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

  • Igor Shesterkin stopped all 22 shots he faced to earn a win and a shutout while representing Russia at the Channel One Cup on Dec. 16 against Finland. The Rangers' fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has posted a 14-3-0 record, along with a 1.30 GAA, a .947 SV%, and 5 SO in 17 appearances with SKA in the KHL in 2018-19. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Shesterkin has posted a 69-9-3 record, along with a 1.59 GAA, a .938 SV%, and 20 SO in 84 KHL appearances.
  • Riley Hughes played with Team Canada West in the 2018 World Junior A Challenge during the week, and he helped the team earn a bronze medal in the tournament. The Rangers' seventh round pick (216th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft registered three points (one goal, two assists) in six games during the tournament, including two points (one goal, one assist) on Dec. 13 against the Czech Republic. Hughes returns to Victoria of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), where he has recorded 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 31 games during his rookie season in the league.
  • Tarmo Reunanen tallied an assist/point in each of Lukko's two games during the week (two assists), and he posted a plus-three rating over the two games. In addition, Reunanen led Lukko in ice time in both games (24:15 on Dec. 11 against Pelicans; 27:02 on Dec. 14 against KooKoo), and he led all skaters on both teams in ice time on Dec. 14. The Rangers' fourth round pick (98th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft extended his assist/point streak to three games (one goal, three assists, plus-five rating over the span). Reunanen has registered an assist/point in four of the last six contests and has notched five points (one goal, four assists) in the six games. He has tallied 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 29 games with Lukko in Liiga this season. Among defensemen younger than 21 years old in Liiga, Reunanen is tied for first in goals, is tied for second in points, and ranks third in assists in 2018-19.
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Ragnarsson on Preparing for World Juniors: "It Feels Incredible"

by Uffe Bodin / NYRangers.com

Jacob Ragnarsson shakes his head in disbelief. The New York Rangers' third-round selection from last summer's draft still has a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that he's on Sweden's preliminary World Juniors roster.

"I can hardly believe it. I don't know what to say. Now that I'm on the team, it feels pretty sick. I almost got shocked when they broke the news", Ragnarsson tells NYRangers.com. "

For context: the 19-year-old defenseman was preparing for the season with his club team Almtuna of the Swedish second league Hockeyallsvenskan in September when he collided with a teammate during a practice. He suffered a knee injury that would force him to miss more than a month at the start of the season. "My goal ahead of the season was to make the WJC team", Ragnarsson confesses. "When I got injured I felt like my chance was gone. It was a pretty tough setback, but I feel like I've made some good strides after coming back."

He has indeed. Well enough to be one of eight defensemen to get a spot on Tomas Montén's roster.

"A stay-at-home defenseman with good size and good mobility", Montén says. "He's shown that he can help us on the international level."

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Lundkvist Happy to Make Sweden's Prelim Roster at World Juniors

by Uffe Bodin / NYRangers.com

Nils Lundkvist could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Before Monday's practice, the 28th overall pick of the New York Rangers in last summer's draft was approached by his assistant coach in Luleå Hockey, Henrik Stridh. Stridh, who's also the assistant coach of the Swedish U20 team, told Lundkvist he had made it. He was indeed one of eight defensemen who had been selected for the preliminary roster ahead of the World Juniors.

"I had obviously been thinking about it quite a lot", Lundkvist tells NYRangers.com. "It's been in the back of my mind and I've eagerly been waiting for their decision. You always get nervous when there's uncertainty in life, but also a lot of happiness when you finally get the good news."

The 18-year-old defensemen, who's in his second SHL season with Luleå, have been a regular on head coach Tomas Montén's Swedish tournament rosters this season. His inclusion on the roster wasn't a surprise, but with the glut of talented defensemen Sweden is producing right now, it wasn't like he could relax either.

"We have a lot of really good young defensemen", Lundkvist notes. "The competition is extremely tough. Just look at the guys we have in North America with Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, Erik Brännström and Adam Boqvist. Those are exceptionally talented players."

And that's without mentioning the first overall pick from last summer's draft, Buffalo Sabres' rookie Rasmus Dahlin, who won't be made available for the tournament in Vancouver and Victoria. For Lundkvist's part, the fight for a roster spot is far from over. Out of the eight defensemen on the roster, one will be sent home before the tournament starts on December 26th.

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Rangers Prospect Report 12.10.18

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

K'Andre Miller tallied two points (one goal, one assist), including an assist on the game-winning goal, registered six shots on goal, and posted a plus-one rating on Dec. 8 against Michigan State. The Rangers' first round pick (22nd overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has recorded an assist/point in four of the last five games, and he has registered eight points (two goals, six assists) over the span. Miller has tallied 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) and has posted a plus-11 rating in 18 games with the University of Wisconsin this season. He was also selected as the Big Ten's First Star of the Week for the week ending on Dec. 2.

Here is how Miller compares to other defensemen selected in the first round at this point of their freshman year in the NCAA:

Miller leads Wisconsin in assists and points, is tied for the team lead in plus/minus rating, and ranks second in shots on goal (45) in 2018-19. He has been on the ice for 21 of Wisconsin's 43 goals which factor into plus/minus rating (even strength goals and shorthanded goals), and he has been on the ice for 30 of Wisconsin's 57 total goals in 2018-19. In addition, Miller is tied for sixth among NCAA defensemen in assists and points this season. He is tied for first among NCAA freshmen in points and is tied for second among NCAA freshmen in assists thus far this season, and he leads NCAA freshman defensemen in both categories. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Miller was selected to the United States' preliminary roster for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship during the week.

Vitali Kravtsov registered two points (one goal, one assist) and posted a plus-two rating in Traktor's 3-2 overtime win on Dec. 4 against Avangard. The Rangers' first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has recorded 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 33 KHL games this season, including five points (two goals, three assists) in his last five KHL games. Kravtsov has also tallied a point in seven of the last 12 KHL games he has played and has recorded 10 points (three goals, seven assists) over the span. Kravtsov is tied for the team lead in points, ranks second in shots on goal (77), is tied for second in assists, and ranks fourth in goals this season. The 18-year-old leads all KHL players younger than 20 years old in goals, assists, and points in 2018-19. Kravtsov has registered more than twice as many points as any other KHL player younger than 20 years old has this season, and he also has more assists (11) than any other KHL player younger than 20 years old has points (seven) thus far in 2018-19.

Kravtsov was named to Russia's preliminary roster for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship during the past week. A native of Vladivostok, Russia, Kravtsov has represented his country in several tournaments in recent years, and he served as Russia's captain at the U20 4-Nations Tournament in November.

Igor Shesterkin posted a 2-0-0 record, along with a 0.50 GAA, a .978 SV% (44 saves on 45 shots), and 1 SO in two appearances during the week. The Rangers' fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft stopped all 24 shots he faced to earn a win and a shutout on Dec. 4 against Torpedo, and he stopped 20 of 21 shots he faced to earn a win on Dec. 6 against Ak Bars. Shesterkin has posted a 14-3-0 record, along with a 1.30 GAA, a .947 SV%, and 5 SO in 17 KHL appearances with SKA in 2018-19. He ranks third in the KHL in SV%, ranks fourth in the league in GAA, and is tied for fourth in the KHL in shutouts this season. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Shesterkin has posted a 69-9-3 record, along with a 1.59 GAA, a .938 SV%, and 20 SO in 84 KHL appearances. He will represent Russia at the Channel One Cup, which begins this week.

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Prospect Report: 12.03.18

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

K'Andre Miller tallied five points (one goal, four assists) in two games during the week, and he registered four points (one goal, three assists), including the game-winning goal, and posted a plus-two rating on Dec. 1 against Penn State. The Rangers' first round pick (22nd overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft extended his assist/point streak to three games (one goal, five assists over the span). Miller has tallied 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) and has posted a plus-nine rating in 16 games with the University of Wisconsin this season. He leads Wisconsin in assists and points, is tied for the team lead in plus/minus rating, and is tied for third in shots on goal (38) in 2018-19. In addition, Miller is tied for second among NCAA freshmen in assists and points this season.

Riley Hughes tallied six points (three goals, three assists) in three games during the week, and he registered five points (three goals, two assists), including an even strength goal, a power play goal, and a shorthanded goal, on Nov. 30 vs. Coquitlam. The Rangers' seventh round pick (216th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has recorded a point in five of the last six games (five goals, five assists) and in nine of the last 11 games (11 goals, six assists over the last 11 games). Hughes has recorded 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in 31 games with Victoria this season. He is tied for 11th in the BCHL in goals thus far in 2018-19. Hughes ranks second among BCHL rookies in goals, ranks fourth among BCHL rookies in points, and is tied for fifth among BCHL rookies in assists this season.

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Rangers Prospect Report: 11.26.18

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

Vitali Kravtsov recorded an assist, registered four shots on goal, and posted a plus-one rating in 16:33 of ice time on Nov. 24 against Torpedo, and he also posted a plus-one rating in two of three games he played during the week. In addition, during the past week, Kravtsov was selected to participate in the 2019 KHL All-Star Game, as he was one of 12 players selected by journalists to play in the game. As part of the selection format, Kravtsov was the only forward from the Kharlamov Division who was selected by journalists to play in the game.

The Rangers' first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has recorded 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 29 KHL games this season, and he has tallied a point in five of the last eight KHL games he has played, recording six points (one goal, five assists) over the span. Kravtsov is tied for third on Traktor in assists, ranks fourth in points, is tied for fourth in goals, and is tied for second in shots on goal (68) this season. The 18-year-old leads all KHL players younger than 20 years old in assists and points, and is tied for first among KHL players younger than 20 years old in goals this season. Kravtsov has registered more than twice as many points as any other KHL player younger than 20 years old has this season, and he also has more assists (nine) than any other KHL player younger than 20 years old has points (six) thus far in 2018-19.

Vinni Lettieri registered five points (three goals, two assists) in Hartford's three games during the week, and he posted two multi-point games in the three contests. He recorded his first AHL goal/point of the season on Nov. 21 vs. Providence when he tallied the game-winning goal in overtime. Lettieri recorded two goals, including the game-tying goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, registered the only goal in the shootout, led all skaters with eight shots on goal, and was selected as the game's First Star on Nov. 23 at Bridgeport. In addition, he notched two assists, including an assist on the game-winning goal, in Hartford's win on Nov. 24 vs. Bridgeport.

Nico Gross tallied three points (one goal, two assists) in two games during the week, and he was selected as the game's First Star when he registered two points (one goal, one assist) on Nov. 23 vs. Hamilton. The Rangers' fourth round pick (101st overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has tallied a point in eight of the last 14 games (two goals, seven assists over the span), and he has recorded 11 points (three goals, eight assists) and a plus-13 rating in 24 games with Oshawa this season. Gross leads Oshawa in plus/minus rating in 2018-19, and he is also tied for ninth among OHL defensemen in plus/minus rating this season.

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Prospect Report: 11.19.18

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

  • Riley Hughes registered five points (four goals, one assist) in three games during the week, and he posted a multi-goal/point game in two of the three contests. Hughes recorded three points (two goals, one assist), including his first career BCHL game-winning goal, on Nov. 16 against Coquitlam, and he also registered two goals on Nov. 18 against Vernon. The Rangers' seventh round pick (216th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has tallied a goal/point in five of the last six games; he has posted three multi-goal games and four multi-point games in the last six contests and has registered 10 points (eight goals, two assists) in the six contests. Hughes has recorded 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 26 games with Victoria this season. He is tied for eighth in the BCHL in goals thus far in 2018-19. Hughes ranks second among BCHL rookies in goals, ranks fourth among BCHL rookies in points, and is tied for seventh among BCHL rookies in assists this season. In addition, Hughes leads Victoria in goals, is tied for fourth on Victoria in points, and is tied for fifth on the team in assists thus far in 2018-19.
  • Tyler Wall posted a 2-0-0 record, along with a 1.00 GAA, a .971 SV% (66 saves on 68 shots), and 1 SO in two appearances against UConn during the week. The Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft stopped 38 of 40 shots to earn a win on Nov. 16, and he stopped all 28 shots he faced to register a win and a shutout on Nov. 17. In eight appearances with UMass-Lowell this season, Wall has posted a 4-3-1 record, along with a 1.74 GAA, a .938 SV%, and 2 SO. Among NCAA goaltenders who have appeared in at least five games this season, Wall is tied for fifth in SV% and ranks seventh in GAA in 2018-19.
  • Morgan Barron recorded a goal and tied for the game-high with four shots on goal on Nov. 16 vs. Quinnipiac. The Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has tallied seven points (five goals, two assists) in eight games with Cornell this season, and he has recorded a point in five of the eight games. Barron has recorded five goals in eight games this season after tallying five goals in 33 games during his freshman year in 2017-18, and he leads Cornell in goals and shots on goal (39) thus far this season. He ranks second in the NCAA in shots on goal per game thus far in 2018-19 (4.88; 39 shots on goal in eight games). Barron will play at Madison Square Garden this week, when Cornell faces Harvard on Saturday, Nov. 24 following the Rangers' game in the afternoon against Washington.
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Rangers Prospect Report: 11.12.18

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

Vitali Kravtsov represented Russia at the U20 Four Nations Tournament this week, and he registered five points (one goal, four assists) and a plus-four rating in three games during the tournament. The Rangers' first round pick (ninth overall) tallied four points (one goal, three assists), posted a plus-four rating, and was on the ice for all of Russia's six goals in the team's 6-5 win against the Czech Republic on Nov. 10.

Kravtsov rejoins Traktor this week; he has recorded 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 24 KHL games this season, and he has tallied an assist/point in each of the last three KHL games he has played (four assists over the span). The 18-year-old leads all KHL players younger than 20 years old in assists and points this season, and he has more assists (eight) than any other KHL player younger than 20 years old has points (six) thus far in 2018-19.

Morgan Barron registered two points (one goal, one assist), both on the power play, tallied an assist on the game-winning goal, and tied for the game-high with six shots on goal in Cornell's 3-2 win against Northern Michigan on Nov. 10. Barron also recorded six of Cornell's 21 shots on goal in the contest. The Rangers' sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has tallied six points (four goals, two assists) in six games with Cornell this season, and he has recorded a point in four of the six games. In addition, Barron has registered either the game-winning goal or an assist on the game-winning goal in three of six games in 2018-19. Thus far in Barron's collegiate career, Cornell has posted a 17-2-0 record in games which he has tallied a point, including an 8-0-0 record in games which he has recorded a goal. Barron has recorded four goals in six games this season after tallying five goals in 33 games during his freshman year in 2017-18, and he leads Cornell in goals thus far this season. He is tied for fifth in the NCAA in game-winning goals thus far this season (two), and he also ranks second in the NCAA in shots on goal per game thus far in 2018-19 (5.33; 32 shots on goal in six games).

Tim Gettinger recorded a goal/point in each of Hartford's two games during the week (two goals). The Rangers' fifth round pick (141st overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has tallied a point in five of the last seven games (three goals, two assists over the span), and he has registered nine points (six goals, three assists) in 16 games with the Wolf Pack this season. Gettinger ranks second on Hartford in goals, is tied for second in shots on goal (35), and is tied for fourth in points thus far this season. In addition, he is tied for fourth among AHL rookies in goals in 2018-19.

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Rangers Prospect Report: 11.5.18

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

Three Stars of the Week

Vitali Kravtsov tallied three assists/points over two games he played with Traktor during the week, including two assists on Nov. 1 against Barys Astana. The Rangers' first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft extended his assist/point streak to three games (four assists over the span). Kravtsov has recorded 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 24 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) games with Traktor this season; he is tied for the team lead in assists, is tied for third in points, and ranks second in shots on goal (55) in 2018-19. Among KHL players younger than 20 years old, the 18-year-old Kravtsov (who turns 19 years old on Dec. 23) ranks first in the league in assists and points this season.

Kravtsov will represent Russia at the U20 Four Nations Tournament this week. The tournament begins on November 9, and Russia will play against Finland, Sweden (whose team includes Nils Lundkvist), and the Czech Republic in the tournament. Russia and Sweden play against each other on the final day of the tournament (November 11).

K'Andre Miller was selected as the NCAA's Rookie of the Month for the month of October. The Rangers' first round pick (22nd overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft tallied an assist and posted a plus-two rating on Nov. 3 at North Dakota. Miller has registered eight points (two goals, six assists), a plus-nine rating, and 20 shots on goal through his first eight career collegiate games, and he has also recorded a point in five of those eight contests. He has registered a point in each of Wisconsin's four wins thus far this season, and he has also been on the ice for 13 of Wisconsin's 21 goals at either even strength or while shorthanded this season. In addition, Miller has tallied six points (one goal, five assists) and has posted a plus-six rating in the last five games. Thus far this season, Miller is tied for fifth among all players in the NCAA in plus/minus rating. In addition, among freshman defensemen in the NCAA, Miller ranks first in assists and points, is tied for second in goals, and is tied for third in shots on goal thus far in 2018-19.

Nils Lundkvist posted the first multi-assist/point game of his Swedish Hockey League (SHL) by tallying two assists, which he tallied in a span of 28 seconds, on Nov. 1 against Timra. The Rangers' first round pick (28th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has recorded four points (one goal, three assists) in the last five games and six points (one goal, five assists) in 16 SHL games with Lulea thus far this season. Lundkvist registered his sixth point of the 2018-19 season in his 15th game of the season, eclipsing his 2017-18 points total in the SHL in 13 fewer games (he notched five points (two goals, three assists) in 28 SHL games with Lulea last season). Of the 19 defensemen younger than 20 years old who have skated in at least one SHL game this season, the 18-year-old Lundkvist is one of only two who have recorded at least one goal and is one of only four who have tallied at least one point. Lundkvist leads all SHL defensemen younger than 20 years old in assists and points thus far in 2018-19.

Lundkvist will represent Sweden at the U20 Four Nations Tournament this week. The tournament begins on November 9, and Sweden will play against Finland, Russia (whose team includes Vitali Kravtsov), and the Czech Republic in the tournament. Sweden and Russia play against each other on the final day of the tournament (November 11).

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