Anchorage hockey player picked by New Jersey

Devils, Rangers mine Alaska talent during the NHL draft

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2002

ANCHORAGE -- Anchorage's Jason Ryznar, a power forward who left home at 16 to pursue a hockey career, has been selected by the New Jersey Devils in the third round of the National Hockey League draft.

The Devils chose Ryznar Saturday as their first pick of the third round. He was taken 64th overall.

The Devils also employ center Scott Gomez of Anchorage, a 1998 first-round pick who won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 2000. Gomez will begin his fourth season with New Jersey in the fall.

On Sunday, Joey Crabb, 19, of Anchorage was tapped by the New York Rangers in the seven round of the NHL draft. But Crabb says he plans to finish college first.

Ryznar, 19, a wing, played last season for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In his two seasons prior to that, he skated in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, which is also based in Ann Arbor and is designed to develop players who can move on to the NHL.

At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Ryznar's greatest appeal lies in his size -- he is likely to pack on more muscle as he matures and lifts weights.

Ryznar has solid, but not exceptional puck skills, though they should improve as he develops under the tutelage of Michigan coach Red Berenson, the former pro who once scored six goals in an NHL game and has guided the Wolverines to two national times.

As a freshman at Michigan last season, Ryznar scored eight goals, six assists and 14 points in 36 games and helped the Wolverines advance to the NCAA semifinals.

Though he was drafted, the most likely scenario for Ryznar next season is to return to Michigan for his sophomore season. The Devils traditionally bring their prospects along slowly. Gomez, who never skated a shift in the minor leagues and went directly from major junior hockey to the NHL, was an exception.

Ryznar is among 47 players USA Hockey has invited to an August camp to be evaluated for consideration on the U.S. Junior National Team that will play in the World Junior Championship in Nova Scotia, Canada, beginning the day after Christmas.

Prior to leaving Alaska to play for USA Hockey's development program, Ryznar played for Service High and the Alaska All-Stars.

Crabb, a 6-1, 185-pound, forward, is playing Division I hockey at Colorado College starting this fall. The rangers will retain the rights to Crabb through his college career.

Crabb spent this past season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, a junior organiation.

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