1. Fedor Tyutin
Fedor was selected in the 2nd round of the 2001 draft, 40th overall. Fedor paved the way for the arrival of Pavel Bure by passing former prospect Filip Novak for the top defenseman in the Ranger system. Many experts had Fedor slotted as the #2 defenseman of the draft behind Mike Komisarek, who is currently in the Montreal farm system. It turns out the experts may have been right.
In a word: Poise. Fedor plays a smart game. He is solid in his own end and blossoming in the offensive zone. He is 6'3, 204lbs. and uses his size. He will bang when he needs to, but more importantly plays a solid positioning game. He does not get caught up ice, realizing his first goal is to play defense. Fedor makes crisp outlet passes and can carry the puck up ice. He takes possession of the puck and keeps it, and his game is doing what he wants with the puck. In protecting the zone he sees the ice well and has good anticipation of where the play is headed.
Last year in the OHL, playing for Guelph Storm, he displayed continued development of the offensive side of his game. As a rookie in the OHL he posted startling offensive numbers. His 19 goals and 40 assists lead all rookie defensemen and placed him 7th in scoring among all rookies and 3rd among all defensemen. This was a pleasant surprise from his Russian Elite numbers. Most scouts knew he would score some with his incredible feel for the game, but his development has come as a surprise and enabled the Rangers to deal Novak in a trade to acquire Pavel Bure. He has earned extensive power play time as a result of his solid play and continues to rebuff reports that his offensive game needs work.
Fedor realizes his primary responsibility is to play defense and he played on the penalty kill unit for the Storm. He also continued his playing career with a teammate from his Russia days in Leonard Zhvachin. At 18 years of age, he turns 19 in July; he is exceeding expectations with his poise and solid play. Most defensemen take time to develop and are contributors in their mid-20's. Fedor could be in the lineup long before that.
Of course like any young defenseman he needs to work on his consistency. He plays a mental game and it would be nice if he used his body more to clear the front of the net. He also needs to play against better competition, as he did in the Russian Elite League, to see if he can sustain his offensive stats or if it was just a mirage playing in the high scoring OHL. AHL time is in his future so he can hone his skills as a defensive specialist with offensive upside. He also needs to add more muscle to his frame to endure the NHL life. If he continues at the pace he has established for himself he could be a Ranger in 2003. He may need to temper his aggressiveness against the better competition as he does try and force the play and has been able to make up for it against the lesser competition. It will remain to be seen if he can do the same versus top-level talent but all signs point that he can and will make that transition. Fedor projects as a solid #2/3 defenseman in he NHL. He still needs some time and other prospects may pass him but he is a name to watch and is in the Rangers plans for the future.
2. Jamie Lundmark
Jamie was selected in the 1st round of the 1999, 9th overall. Jamie has been compared to the likes of Steve Yzerman for his commitment to team defense and his leadership both on and off the ice.
Jamie is a solid in all zones. He does not try and do too much and his learning curve is still pretty high. He is an extremely agile skater, has pinpoint passing, great vision and is tough to knock off the puck. Jamie has great mobility and quick acceleration. Jamie also has a hard, accurate slap shot and very solid wrist shot. Tremendous conditioning and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win are his trademarks. Whether that be taking a hit to make a play or being responsible defensively he does not back down. While not one to take the body, he will in the right situation if it helps the team and does not leave him out of position. Jamie is very mental in his approach to the game and all that goes into making him a more complete player.
After 4 years in the WHL where Jamie posted impressive numbers and 2 camps with the Rangers Jamie headed to the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL to fine tune all the tools he has. After a slow start Jamie came back with a vengeance to score 59 points in 79 games and place second among rookie scoring in the AHL. He showed his meddle by placing second on the Hartford team in shots while also while still assisting with 32 helpers. Jamie also had a strong showing in the playoffs with 7 points in 10 games. It seemed he adjusted better as the season progressed, a sign he is poised for bigger things in the future.
One of the most impressive aspects of his game is Lundmarks willingness to commit to defense. How is that possible you ask given his offensive numbers? Why not ask Steve Yzerman the same question, as Lundmark seems to get many comparisons to the future Hall of Famer. Being responsible on both ends of the ice is one example of how Jamie is a true leader and is the most likely candidate to take over the Captaincy of the Rangers down the road.
Jamie is still filling out and needs to add muscle to his frame to endure the rigors of an NHL season in the rough Eastern Conference. At 6'0, 190 Jamie needs to bulk up to the 200 lb area to be effective. Jamie also has to complete his transition to wing considering it will be tough for him to crack the top lines as a Center, his natural position. He needs to work on his positioning as a winger and depending how the off season goes the progress of Radek Dvorak from injury Jamie Lundmark and could be on the 2nd line to start the year and get quality minutes. It is also possible Jamie could get another year down with the Wolfpack to continue refining his game while adding some bulk and could be a quick call up if the injury bug hits the Big Club.
3. Garth Murray
Garth was selected in the 3rd round of the 2001 draft, 79th overall. Garth has shot up the Ranger prospect board with his solid play on both ends of the ice and getting better every day.
Garth is a lightning quick skater and actually placed second in a fastest skater competition back in 2001. At 6'2 and 210 lbs. Garth is vaulting himself into the elusive "power forward" category. While he may have a ways to go, Garth is undeniably doing everything it takes to attain that goal. He is a tireless worker on his game and has gotten better every step of the way.
His numbers continue to grow as he played for the Regina Pats of the WHL last year and posted 63 points in 62 games with 154 PIM. Garth is not afraid of anyone and stands his ground. His game is physical and he is tough on his skates. A dying breed of players who sacrifice their body to camp in front of a net and get the tough goals. While not supremely gifted with soft hands, he puts in the work to make it at the next level. Garth could also develop into a solid captain if nothing more than based on his game in, game out effort he displays.
There are no glaring weaknesses besides the level of competition in Garth Murray's game. Garth needs to get out of the high scoring league of the WHL and into fiercer competition in the AHL with the Wolfpack. There he can refine his game for this year and concentrate on his progression without too much pressure. He also needs to learn when to hit and when not to take silly penalties along the way. Right now he could step in and be an adequate 3rd liner but the goal is he will progress enough to become a 2nd liner winger who bangs and can effectively play the role of a power forward, hitting, scoring and clawing his way through the NHL season.
These top 3 are the jewels of the organization. The lesser-tiered prospects and a few surprises will be coming in the next installment of "Rangers Prospects".
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