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Training Camp Already Underway for Hopefuls Meskanen, Lindqvist

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The spotlight has shined brightly on the Rangers' draft picks and players acquired at this year's trade deadline, and rightfully so, headed into and through one game at the 2018 Traverse City Prospect tournament.

The Blueshirts added two first round picks in Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil in the 2017 draft, and both found themselves on Broadway to close out last season. In February, New York added former first round pick Brett Howden and defensemen Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren, both second-round choices in 2016, giving the organization depth throughout its system.

But two forwards could be just as close to finding their names on the opening night roster.

Ville Meskanen and Michael Lindqvist signed as free agents with the club in May after spending last season in Finland and Sweden, respectively.

Now, they're stateside and ready to show the Rangers' decision makers they're ready to compete for NHL spots.

"This is a good place to show my skills and what I have," Meskanen, 22, told Saturday after scoring New York's first goal of the tournament Friday night against Dallas. "I think if I play well here, it's going to be a good thing for training camp. If I score a couple goals, [management will] remember me."

The former Ilves skater from Finland's Liiga, Meskanen said while he wants to make a good impression, he also has faith in his game, which allows him to not overthink things on the ice.

"I have pretty good confidence," he stated. "I know I'm here for a reason. I just do my own thing and do whatever it takes" to succeed.

Video: Traverse City Game 1 Highlights

Like Meskanen, Lindqvist made a good first impression by scoring and adding an assist in the loss to the Stars. The 23-year-old, who is coming off a strong season with Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League, admitted he's still getting adjusted to a new environment.

And with that new environment is of course a new ice surface, one smaller that he's not accustomed to from back home. But, he said, his game should benefit from the tighter angles, namely in the offensive zone.

"I'm a shooter, so [the smaller ice] is pretty good," he said. "You get the pucks on the boards here and it's pretty close to the net and allows you to shoot right away, so I like that. Just some things in the game. You've got to be quicker with the puck and stuff like that. I still have little things to improve on, but it'll get better and better."

The adjustments also come away from the rink, especially for Meskanen, who is the only Finnish player on the roster. But, as he said with a smile, he "tries to be a friendly guy" and is getting know his new teammates well even after just a few days together.

Training camp, in essence, is underway for both players look to prove they belong in New York. Both know the evaluation process has begun, and results now can add points in a few weeks back east.

"You've got to be ready now," said Lindqvist. "The guys are here, the coach and the general manager and everyone, so you've got to have good games here and show that you're ready. Get off to a good start and get into training camp with confidence and a good feeling."

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