Here’s why the Rangers will land Boston University’s goalie, Matt O’Connor
The Rangers may be adding another Boston college hockey (BU/BC) product to their lineup. Goaltender, Matt O’Connor could be in the fold as Henrik Lundqvist‘s backup as soon as next season.
According to Bob McKenzie, the 23 year old met with the Ottawa Senators this past Sunday and will be meeting with Vancouver and Edmonton soon. The Rangers round out the teams on his list and he will visit with the organization some time next week.
So what makes this hulk of a goaltender at a healthy 6’6″ and 205 lbs likely to land on the Rangers? Let’s quickly look at why he might rule out the other choices.
OTTAWA: Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond has been a gem for the Senators this season. Although he has struggled in his first playoffs, Ottawa has a stud on their hands. The net is also cluttered with veteran Craig Anderson and prized Swedish prospect Robin Lehner. Trades aside, where would O’Connor fit here.
VANCOUVER: This is a somewhat similar situation in the fact that Eddie Lack has been a solid goaltender. Ryan Miller is also locked up here for three years as well. O’Connor could land a backup role here if the Canucks trade Lack in the summer. They are a strong possibility.
EDMONTON: This would look like the obvious choice, no? However, winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes aside, would this be the best situation for a rookie netminder to walk into? Everyone knows that the Oilers are going to try and upgrade their goaltending situation as well, so is it worth the possible career ending setback to join this team with the hopes of being the number one starter? There are only so many Devan Dubnyk stories to go around.
Here’s why the Rangers are the lead dog in this race.
1. Cam Talbot will likely be moved this summer
The aforementioned Oilers being the destination. You can read these two stories as we’ve covered it here extensively.
Rangers believe Oilers want Talbot
Valiquette thinks Talbot will end up in Edmonton
This will open up a backup job on possibly one of the best defensive teams in the league. After seeing Talbot’s success in just 2 seasons, this could be the route to take for the young goalie.
2. Working with Goalie Jedi Master Benoit Allaire
Stephen Valiquette called Allaire the Yoda of goalie coaches and a master guru. Matter of fact, the reason Talbot re-upped with the Rangers this past December was because he wanted to work more with Allaire.
“He fixed every little tendency coming off the puck,” Valiquette said of Allaire working with Talbot. “You’re sitting there with Master Yoda, what do you think is gonna happen? Benoit gets in your head.”
3. The Rangers prospects aren’t ready yet!
Yes, MacKenzie Skapski played in 2 games this season and allowed 1 goal. Step back and realize they were against an AHL level club in the Buffalo Sabres. Regardless, the 20 year old kid was solid but therein lies the problem – he’s only 20.
It would be in the best interest of the Rangers to have him continue his development with the Wolf Pack. As for Brandon Halverson and Igor Shestyorkin – they are even younger than he is and aren’t even playing in the AHL yet.
4. The BOSTON COLLEGE HOCKEY SCENE Connection
If you think Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes aren’t going to play a big role in his recruitment, you’re kidding yourself. Even if it is simply the fact that they are on the team, these two former BC players will be a huge reason why O’Connor signs with the Blueshirts. That familiarity with players from the Boston College hockey scene (BU/BC) will help.
Finally, why are the Rangers targeting this kid? Simple…he can play.
*Note: Thank you to my readers for pointing out I had BU instead of BC in there for Hayes and Kreider. Love you guys.