"He Earned His Contract"

Marek Hrivik came up big for the Connecticut Whale during the 2012 AHL playoffs. Now he wants to prove himself as a future NHL player in his first full professional campaign in 2012-13.

An undrafted free agent, Hrivik signed a PTO with the Whale following the completion of his 29-goal, 70-point season with Moncton in the QMJHL last spring, and registered one loan goal in eight games to close out Connecticut's regular season. However Hrivik came alive in the post-season, leading the team with five goals and nine points in nine playoff contests, earning his first pro contract as a result.

"He came to us without a contract or anything, just on the recommendation of our scouting staff because they saw a lot of promise in him," explained Whale head coach Ken Gernander recently. "You have to tip your hats to the scouts because Marek has quite a bit of skill and was a big part of our playoff run. He was one of our better playoff performers."

The 6-foot-1, 195 pound Slovak forward scored 26, 38, and 29 goals in three seasons with Moncton, but somehow was not drafted by an NHL organization. 29 of his 93 goals were netted on the power play at Moncton.

He also showcased his skills by representing Slovakia two straight years at the World Junior Championships. In the 2011 WJC he scored twice, including one game-winner, for Slovakia in six games.

"Hrivik came in and performed exceptionally well with the Whale last season," noted Rangers Assistant General Manager Jeff Gorton. "He earned his contract. We like what we see in him, and now want to see what he shows over a full season."

Hrivik will be one of a number of Whale players taking part in his first professional season this year, possibly joining first-rounders Chris Kreider, Dylan McIlrath, and JT Miller, and key prospects Christian Thomas, Andrew Yogan, and Scott Stajcer.

"It's going to be interesting to see all of these kids grow as professionals," said Gernander. "You can see that sense of being a part of the Rangers system with some of the guys who have come through Hartford and now graduated to New York--- they have a certain kinship or bond that started in the prospects camp and continued through their time in Hartford. That's what we want to continue to foster with these kids this year."

Share your thoughts below on what you think of Marek Hrivik's future as a pro in the Rangers organization.

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