Rangers Prospects Barron, Hughes Making Noise in North America

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As we prepare to indulge in that wonderfully decadent holiday called Thanksgiving, we will check in and see how the Rangers amateur prospects playing in North America are doing.

We normally center this update around K’Andre Miller and with good reason. The high-flying Wisconsin defenseman has scouts raving and Rangers fans drooling about his play and potential. Also, we normally include the Rangers two top goaltending prospects on this side of the pond in this space. Don’t look now folks but UMass-Lowell’s outstanding net-minder, Tyler Wall, is having a season that could rival Igor Shestyorkin’s KHL campaign.

Wall, through eight games, has a microscopic 1.74 goals-against-average and a superb .938 save percentage. His Hockey East counterpart, UConn’s Adam Huska, continues to impress with a 2.60 GAA and a .921 save percentage in nine contests. The Rangers are, without question, set up very nicely in goal for the foreseeable future once the inevitable happens and King Henrik Lundqvist packs up his throne, and hair care products, and calls it a career.

Defenseman Joey Keane, playing for the OHL’s Barrie Colts, has 15 points in 20 games and a whopping 38 penalty minutes. I don’t know about you guys, but I really like seeing mobile defenseman play with an edge and won’t back down from a scrum. Based on the above stat line, Keane certainly seems to fit that bill. Miller, Keane and the two aforementioned goalies have legitimate chances to someday skate on the Garden ice wearing that beautiful blue sweater. We will continue to hear quite a bit from these talented Ranger draft picks as they learn, improve and progress.

I want to take time to make this piece about two under-the-radar draftees who, more than likely, won’t play a game in the NHL. However, it is worth noting that 2018 seventh round pick Riley Hughes is in the midst of fantastic season playing for the Victoria Grizzlies in the British Columbia Hockey League. The 18-year-old Massachusetts native has compiled 27 points in 26 games. Averaging a point per game on any level deserves praise and recognition. Hughes stands 6’1″ and is still growing. The Rangers certainly hope they found a late-round gem in the tall, skilled Hughes.

Morgan Barron was the Rangers sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. The Nova Scotia native decided to play college hockey in the United States instead of going the Canadian Junior route. Thus far, playing in eight matches for Cornell University, Barron has tallied seven points in eight games which rank second for “Big Red” in points by forwards. Barron is a skilled 6’2″, 200 lbs. centerman. At the age of 19, he already has the prototypical NHL size for power forwards. One has to believe there is still room to add muscle on his 19-year-old frame.

As we’ve entailed numerous times, the NHL entry draft is a crapshoot. The NHL, more than any other sport, has a plethora of highly drafted busts and late round diamonds in the rough. Just because Hughes and Barron were taken in the seventh and sixth rounds respectively, it doesn’t mean that they’ll never play an NHL game. It just means their road to the NHL will be more difficult than first and second-round picks. Their current seasons have taken them from under-the-radar status to just be a tiny blip on the outskirt of the radar screen. Now, they each have to keep on improving and force the Rangers hierarchy to take notice.

The Rangers have great organizational depth on the blueline and in goal. Not so much in the three forward positions, however. The opportunity could arise in the upcoming next few years for either Barron or Hughes, or both, to step up and win a roster spot with the big club. We will continue to monitor their progress and we will continue to give, hopefully, positive updates regarding their play. A hockey team can never have too many skilled forwards with size, so I would love to see one of these kids suiting up for David Quinn and the Rangers some day.

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