- Played in the NHL YoungStars Game
By the time Ranger attended his first rookie camp for the Tampa Bay Lightning in August of 2002 he was still just 17 years old making him by far the youngest Lightning prospect attending the camp. He did not, however, look out of place amongst his older peers and returned to the OHL poised for a breakout season. In 2002-2003 Paul Ranger had 10 goals and 38 points in 68 games and made a reputation for himself as one of the most mobile and offensively aggressive defensemen in the OHL. In his final campaign in 2003-2004, Ranger set career highs with 12 goals and 43 points and was nominated by Oshawa for the Max Kaminsky Trophy for the best defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League. He also represented the Western Conference in the 2004 OHL All-Star Game. In the summer of 2004, Ranger was signed to a standard three year entry level contract by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ranger's stint in Springfield would be a short one however. In two preseason games with the Falcons Ranger registered 1 goal and 2 assists including the overtime game winning goal in the preseason finale against the Hartford Wolfpack. Then, in the season opener, Ranger potted the game winning goal and 2 assists in a 4-2 victory over the Portland Pirates. At the recommendation of Springfield head coach Dirk Graham, the Tampa Bay Lightning recalled Paul Ranger on 10-14-05. The next day, Ranger made his debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 3-1 Lightning victory.
At 6.02, 215 lbs, Ranger has good size but even more importantly he's extremely mobile. In skills testing at the CHL Top Prospects Game in 2002 his performance in the skating events rated comparable to that of top defenseman draft choice Jay Bouwmeester. Ranger also possesses a hard slap shot although he tends to prefer to rely on a sharp, accurate wrist shot from the point. Coach John Tortorella has also praised Paul Ranger's prowess at making strong breakout passes. Above all though, when Ranger is on top of his game he's the most offensively aggressive defenseman to ever come through this system save only Dan Boyle.
Ranger is still learning how to use his size to his advantage, particularly in his own third of the ice. He's gotten more physical as the years have progressed and he has filled into his frame, but there are still times he shies away from contact. Often he gets away with it due to his outstanding ability to slip and duck checks, but Ranger would be even more effective in pursuit if he would use his 215 pound frame to separate opposing forwards from the puck more consistently. Beyond that, he merely needs more time and experience to become more confident in his offensive abilities at the NHL level.
Jay Feaster was quoted in the summer of 2005 as believing that Ranger had the most raw potential of any defenseman in the Lightning organization at the time. That's considerable praise given the amount of high draft choices the Lightning have used on defensemen in recent years. Feaster also considers Ranger the Lightning's top offensive defenseman prospect while Head Scout Jake Goertzen believes Ranger is on track to become a top-4 caliber defenseman in this league.
Bolt Prospects agrees. Ranger was just a month past his 22nd birthday when he made his NHL debut for the Lightning. Despite his young age, Ranger was quickly promoted to playing on a top pairing with veteran Dan Boyle. Ranger is already playing 15 minutes a night at the NHL level and performing with a level of play and consistency rarely seen from prospects his age. Once he gets more comfortable with the NHL and begins to earn more power play time, Ranger is very likely to become a 25-30+ point a year top-four defenseman in this league. Moreover, with his mobility, he should become a defenseman capable of eating up 20-25 minutes a night easily once he fully adjusts to hockey's top level.
|Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||76||1||17||18||58|||||Playoffs||5||2||4||6||0|
|2006-2007||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||72||4||24||28||42|||||Playoffs||6||0||1||1||4|
|2007-2008||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||72||10||21||31||56||||
|2008-2009||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||42||2||11||13||56||||
|2009-2010||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||8||1||1||2||6||||
|2010-2011||Did not play||||
|2011-2012||Did not play||||
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