Day 4 of the Rangers Training Camp started with Team B on the ice, where Kevin Hayes centered Rick Nash and Jimmy Vesey on one of the practice lines. This was a great line, where, as Vesey said later, he had to get used to the fact that he was the smallest player. The three of them worked very well together, retrieving pucks and creating scoring chances for each other.
Then in the afternoon, it was Team A’s turn on the ice. One of those lines turned heads too–Mika Zibanejad centered Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich, a line that was electric. Head Coach Alain Vigneault commented later about Zibanejad, his assets are “his skill level, his speed, his instincts.” Those were surely on display today, as Zibanejad wristed in several pucks past the goalies.
Kreider also showed a lot of confidence and, at one point, went end to end with the puck and then deked it past goalie Mackenzie Skapski. Five minutes later, he skated hard to the net and then roofed it in under the cross bar. It was an exhibition of skill that the Rangers are going to need to see from Kreider to be successful this season.
One of the other players who have impressed during this pre-season (both here and in Traverse City) is defenseman John Gilmour. Signed by the Rangers as a free agent in August of this year, Gilmour, age 23, spent four years at Providence College after being drafted in 2013 by Clagary in the seventh round.
A left-handed two-way defenseman, Gilmour is 5’11”, and 180 pounds. In other words, Gilmour is one of the smaller defensive prospects within the organization. Although he could use more bulk, he does not need more height to be effective. Gilmour’s positioning, gap control, and, most of all, his ability to move the puck are exceptional.
A winner of the NCAA in 2015 with the Providence College Friars, Gilmour is used to the pressure of high stakes games. He had a choice of a few teams to sign with after the August 15th deadline, and chose the Rangers, “because it seemed like a good fit, the Rangers were the best opportunity for me.”
When asked about the Traverse City experience, Gilmour said he and his teammates “were all nervous because it is the first time in the big leagues and you are all playing with guys you don’t know. Its all new at first, but by the end of the week, we are all having a great time.” It really helped him to relax coming into training camp, because he “made a lot of friends there and there were a lot of familiar faces coming here.”
Although the Rangers did not give him a lot of feedback from Traverse City, it was clear to the Rangers, and to anyone watching the games, that he was by far the best defenseman that New York brought to the tournament.
As for this season, it is likely that Gilmour will be in the AHL, continuing to work on his defensive game. When asked about his expectations for the season, Gilmour wants to work and see where his game will take him, “to learn to contain bigger and stronger players.” He definitely is a bit raw, but keep your eyes on Gilmour, as he very well may turn out to be one of the best defensive collegiate free agents that the Rangers have signed in years.