While Stepan has obviously caught some eyes early on, the subject of our Ranger Countdown profile – Sam Klassen – will have to work much harder to make and impression.
The chances of Sam Klassen making the Rangers’ opening night roster are pretty close to zero, and to be honest, his chances of making it to the NHL at this stage of his career are pretty long.
A relative late blooming two-way defenseman, the Saskatchewan native was signed as to a pro contract in 2009, but sent back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL as an overager. While the Blades welcomed him back, he only modestly improved on his offensive numbers, managing just 3 goals in his last year of junior eligibility.
He got a solid look at Traverse City, but it’s almost certain that the 21 year old will be heading down to the minors, and will likely face some stiff competition for a spot with Hartford.
If he does manage to stick with Hartford, then he’ll need to prove that he can be sound defensively, as well as try to find a way to contribute a little more offensively.
While he played often against the top offensive lines in the WHL, he’ll likely start lower down the order in the Pack, which could help him adjust. At best he’s probably a couple of years away from competing for an NHL spot, so look for him to build a solid base this season, and hopefully move from there.
Team: Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Stats: 3 goals, 27 assists and 98 penalty minutes in 67 games
Team: Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Stats: 2 goals, 12 assists and 95 penalty minutes in 70 games
Klassen was a teammate of fellow Ranger defensive prospect Jyri Niemi.