He is on the third pair tonight and playing with Brendan Bell, which I saw as his pairing in Hartford. He is in the last year of his contract, RFA after the year, and probably has a better chance to play and make money in the KHL. It could really open up a spot for Blake Parlett to move up on the depth chart.
Leslie Treff wrote at Hockey’s Future that Tank looked comfortable as Girardi’s partner yesterday.
Interesting development in the third pair defenseman search. Tim Erixon doesn’t need waivers and Michael Del Zotto still has about 50 or so games until he needs to pass through waivers. I think that both are ahead of Valentenko on the depth chart, but if it is close, do you try Tank there to start? He is an asset and I would hate to see them lose him to a waiver claim, but is that enough of a reason to have him start with the Rangers over Erixon or Del Zotto?
I have unfairly discounted him as someone who can take one of the final roster spots and win a job out of training camp. He hits, he has a shot and John Tortorella was a big fan of his last year. The best players in camp will make the team, and if Tank is one of them, he will make the team an either Tim Erixon or Michael Del Zotto, or possibly both if they only go with six, will end up in Hartford.
At NYRangers.com, they continue their “20 Prospects in 20 Days” series with a look at Pavel Valentenko.
Tank, who almost made the team last season after returning to North America, has a special place in his heart for blocking shots:
“One of his strengths would be shot-blocking. He loves to block shots and he’s fearless in that regard,” said Connecticut Whale head coach Gernander. “So that makes him a pretty strong penalty-killer. He’s going to be a defensive type of defenseman.”
Click HERE for more on how much Valentenko loves blocking shots.
I tend to not think about Tank as much, but those last two spots are open to competition. If Tank is the best defenseman in training camp, he will get a spot. He kind of reminds me of Dan Girardi, at least from this reading. He has as good a chance to be a Ranger as Tim Erixon or Michael Del Zotto. The best player will make the team. Hopefully it leads to a great battle in training camp.
“I’ve had a hard shot all my life, but it has always gone the wrong way,” a smiling Valentenko said after practice Tuesday at the XL Center in Hartford. “Now I’ve been practicing my shot almost every day with (assistant coach) J.J. (Daigneault), and it goes in the net. I’ve worked on shooting quicker and hitting the net.”