On Aug. 9, 2022, the New York Rangers named a captain for the first time since 2018, the 28th in their storied history. Two of the Rangers’ top prospects are playing well together at the World Junior Championships (WJC) in Edmonton, AB, for Team Canada, while the Blueshirts signed a Calder Cup winner and more.
Trouba Will Wear “C” Proudly
Jacob Trouba will don the “C” for the Blueshirts when the 2022-23 NHL season gets underway. He has undoubtedly earned the honor of becoming the 28th team captain in franchise history. He’s served as an alternate captain for the past couple of seasons and has been a leader on and off the ice. The players and staff have immense respect for his style of play, approach to the game, and how he handles himself off the ice.
Rangers president and general manager (GM) Chris Drury says, “Anyone that has been around our team for the last few seasons, I think, certainly understands the impact Jacob has had on our group, day to day, day in, day out, on ice, off ice, game days or practice days. He’s a terrific leader, and we think he’ll be a great Rangers captain for years to come.”
Trouba is coming off career highs in goals, assists, and plus-minus. He’s also made a tremendous impact with his physical presence, coming up with big hits at timely moments to help shift games in the Rangers’ direction. He had the second most blocked shots (177) in the NHL last season and was the only player to have over 175 blocks and more than 200 hits. Perhaps what solidified the decision to name him captain was during the first round of the 2022 Playoffs when the Blueshirts were down 3-1; Trouba called a players-only meeting, which helped catapult them to come back and win the series.
After the announcement, Trouba said, “I believe in this group and the group of players we have, and I’m just really grateful for this opportunity and look forward to leading this team.”
There have only been two occasions when a Stanley Cup winner didn’t have a team captain, the 1970 and ’72 Boston Bruins. Drury, who served as the Rangers’ captain from 2008-11, was asked if he felt a team needs a captain to win the Cup, and he acknowledged the group leaders they have and then said, “We just felt like it was time, and the evolution of this team and this organization, it’s been a while. I know Jacob will do a great job as captain and push us toward our ultimate goal of winning a Cup.”
Head coach Gerrard Gallant added, “I didn’t know our team last year. I was a first-year coach. I had 102 games with my players, Troubs played 101 of those games, and you get to know your team over the year. I just think it evolved to this situation. … Jacob was our captain last year without wearing a ‘C.’ We got to the point where we feel real comfortable, and we think he’s a great leader for us” (from ‘Rangers naming Jacob Trouba captain after long stretch without one,’ NY Post, 8/09/22.)
Othmann & Cuylle Team Up at WJC
Rangers’ prospects Brennan Othmann and Will Cuylle are representing Canada at the 2022 World Junior Championships in Edmonton. Both players are high on the Rangers’ prospect depth chart, and one of them might even crack the opening day roster. Othmann didn’t play in Canada’s first game but was inserted into the lineup in their second against Team Slovakia. He notched a goal and two assists, helping Canada to an 11-1 win.
Cuylle has played in both games so far and has a goal and an assist. His assist came on a nice feed to Othmann after a turnover in the Slovakian zone. The two forwards battled against each other during the Rangers’ developmental camp in July. Now they’re looking to win gold, and they complemented each other well in Thursday’s blowout win. Team Canada has won both of their games so far and has a stronghold on the top seed to come out of Group A.
Smith Signs One-Year Deal
Last week, the Rangers signed C.J. Smith to a one-year contract. Smith is coming off a successful American Hockey League (AHL) campaign with the Carolina Hurricanes affiliate, Chicago Wolves, where he helped the Wolves to a Calder Cup Championship. He had 24 goals and 34 assists in 60 games. The 27-year-old from Des Moines, Iowa, has 200 points in 244 AHL games. Smith played one game with the Hurricanes last season and has played a total of 15 career NHL games with the Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound forward out of UMass-Lowell set a career-high for assists and tied his career high for points last season. He added nine points throughout the Wolves’ playoff run.
Recent Signee Sykora Gaining Valuable Experience
Adam Sykora, the Rangers’ second-round, 63rd overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, is playing for Team Slovakia at the WJC. So far, the 5-foot-11, 172-pound forward has yet to register a point, playing for an outmatched team. Slovakia has lost both of their games so far by 11 total goals. Although it will be tough for him to produce against typical powerhouse teams in his first WJC, he’s gaining valuable experience heading into training camp. The Rangers signed the 17-year-old Sykora shortly after developmental camp.
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, by way of Detroit, MI. Uniquely diverse experiences have shaped Scott’s life in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world, learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts, becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents. Scott is available for interviews and welcomes questions and topic ideas.