Even without Chris Kreider in the lineup tonight, several key Ranger prospects will be on display when the Connecticut Whale opens up its pre-season schedule against the Albany Devils Wednesday night at the Whale's practice rink in Cromwall, CT.
JT Miller, the Rangers first round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft (pictured), heads the list of Blueshirt prospects set to play Wednesday night for the Whale. The 19 year-old first-year pro will be joined in the lineup by high-scoring forwards Christian Thomas (2nd round, 2010) and Andrew Yogan (4th round, 2010), as well as by 22 year-old Kyle Jean, who earned a pro contract after an impressive development camp tryout and who has excelled in the Whale's training camp, so far.
In addition, Chad Kolarik, a three-time 20-goal scorer in the AHL who missed all of last season due to knee surgery, will dress for the Whale this evening. It will be his first game of any kind since April of 2011.
"I wouldn't wish what I went through on anybody, but I think it has made me a better player and person," Kolarik said of his comeback, which included months of arduous rehab on his knee. "You realize what you had and how much you miss it when you don't have it. So I am excited to be out there again."
Based on the line combinations Whale head coach Ken Gernander used at Wednesday's morning skate, it would seem Kolarik will skate on a line with Miller and former Islander Michael Haley against Albany. In addition, Jean was centering Yogan and Thomas Wednesday morning, while Kelsey Tessier centered Scott Tanski and Francis Verrault-Paul, and Ryan Flanigan, Nicolas Tremblay, and Shayne Wiebe formed the fourth line.
Kreider, Marek Hrivik, Ryan Bourque, Brandon Segal, and injured veteran Kris Newbury are among those in Whale camp who will not play on Wednesday night. Newbury did take to the ice for the first time in three days, testing his sprained right knee in various skating drills with assistant coach Jeff Beukeboom after the morning skate was over.
On defense this evening, Gernander will dress 28 year-old AHL vet Sean Collins, who has 21 games of NHL experience under his belt with the Washington Capitals. He will be joined by 6-foot-7 veteran Brent Henley, slick-skating Sebastien Piche---who scored a pair of goals in three scrimmages this week, 6-foot-6 Steven Delisle---who was acquired from Columbus in the Rick Nash trade this summer, former Red Wings prospect Logan Pyett, and Kyle Haines---a teammate of Kyle Jean's at Lake Superior State University who is in camp on a tryout.
Jason Missiaen, the 22 year-old 6-foot-8 goalie who played in the ECHL as a first-year pro last season, will split time in goal with Bryan Hince---another netminder who played in the ECHL a year ago and is in camp on a tryout.
BlueshirtsUnited.com will have video game highlights and a Blueshirts Beat analysis of the game posted either Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, so make sure to check back to see how the Whale and its group of prospects fared against Albany.
Share your thoughts below on the news from Wednesday's morning skate.