In the first Traverse City Prospect Tournament contest, the New York Rangers were defeated by the Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-2.
It’s only one game, yet the expectations for this New York Rangers prospect team is very high. The young Blueshirts never looked comfortable despite scoring the first goal of the game and went on to lose 6-2 in the first game of the round-robin portion of the tourney at Traverse City.
Kaapo Kakko sat out the game due to an illness. His Rangers debut will have to wait until Saturday, at the earliest.
Igor Shesterkin made his North American debut in goal for the club; but unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as he had hoped for.
The 23-year-old allowed six goals on 31 shots, at least four of them he would want back. The young netminder looked shaky early on in the contest but did keep Columbus off the scoreboard in the third period.
He will need time to adjust to the smaller ice rinks and faster style of games than he has played in previously in the KHL on larger surfaces.
Shesterkin will almost certainly start the year in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack under rookie head coach Kris Knoblach, who is also the coach of this current prospect team.
The play from the team in front of him didn’t help as the Rangers were guilty of many turnovers. The team will have to tighten up in all the areas of the ice if they want to improve on Thursday’s loss.
The club struggled to get any sustained offensive chances in the Blue Jackets end of the ice and their power play didn’t help the situation as it went scoreless in three opportunities.
A bright spot for the club was the play of Brett Kemp, who scored the only two goals for the Rangers. Kemp is a free agent invite who played last season for Medicine Hat of the WHL.
Defenseman Adam Fox, acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes at the end of last season, was one of three players named as an alternate captain. He played a simple game, showed some speed and overall had a strong outing in his first professional hockey game.
Players and coaching staff alike have to stay patient. The final score of these tournament games is not the most important aspect to look at. The coaching staff must focus on the player’s skill level along with how they handle themselves on the ice with and without the puck.
The Rangers won’t have much time to think about this loss as the will play their second game of the tournament Saturday night against the Dallas Stars at 7:00 p.m. ET.