As promised, the prospects were put through a 45-lap marathon - 36 laps for the four goalies - and no other on-ice activities. As to be expected, some players were completely gassed by the end. But one thing the brass was looking for was a bit of burst on that last lap to cross the finish line. Shows competitiveness. It's the little things that tell a lot.
Waiting to see if we'll be able to talk to either GM Glen Sather or assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld about the start of free agency tomorrow. The Rangers could make their big splash in advance if they acquire Dany Heatley from the Senators, who would like to avoid paying him a $4 million roster bonus tomorrow. Despite Ottawa GM Bryan Murray's insistence that Heatley could be back in a Senators uniform if teams don't offer enough, the sense around the league is that Murray has to deal him. One report today had the Rangers and the Oilers as the only two teams still with an active interest.
One reporter's speculation here but would Ottawa accept a package of a first rounder, Brandon Dubinsky or Ryan Callahan and Scott Gomez or Michal Rozsival? Surely, Murray would have wanted more but his back likely is against the wall and he may be forced to get as much as he can. Other (strong) possibility is that Nik Zherdev is included in the deal.
Meanwhile, ESPN.com is reporting Nik Antropov is seeking a five-year deal worth $5.25 annually. To quote GM Glen Sather from the draft, that's "ridiculous."
As for the prospects in town, one impression from the hard skate today: Evgeny Grachev is a beautiful skater, long, fluid strides, great balance. We'll see what he looks like in hockey competition but the sense in the building is he's going to be the real deal for the Rangers, a potential top-line wing.
Also chatted with top pick Chris Kreider, who acknolwedged this camp has been an "eye-opener." I asked him about his relationship with fellow Boxford, Mass. resident Ryan Bourque, the team's third-round pick. Kreider said they played together in middle school before Bourque moved away for a few years. So while they hadn't seen each other in a while, they did get assigned to be roomates here at camp. Kreider also had a funny line about calling and texting people from Montreal after being drafted. He said his mother wasn't having any of that since they were roaming on their cell plan.
The Rangers will also soon announce they've signed forward Chris Chappell, a 21-year-old in camp this week who had 38 goals and 38 assists in 68 games for Saginaw (OHL). Chappell is 6-foot-4, 209 pounds.
Finally, prayers and condolences to former first-round pick Hugh Jessiman and his family. His mother was killed this week during a hiking trip while the family was on a European vacation.