Thanks for the welcomes on the first blog. In this one, I will take a relatively brief look at who the Rangers have drafted recently (see Gmkiller’s blog for a more detailed look at the draft over the years) and some prior 19th picks; how our recent selections might impact who we draft this year; possible candidates for the 19th pick and my choice.
The past few years have seen the Rangers pick fairly close to where they select this year, which obviously is a good sign as it means that long stretch of not making the playoffs finally came to an end. I’ll start with 2003, which for any Rangers fan, is probably the worst and the most painful draft of late. Instead of taking Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrok, Robert Nilsson, Steve Bernier, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, etc., who do we take Huge Specimen. Why, because we have forever been searching for that elusive power forward, and guess what, we still are as that selection was a major bust.
2004 was a mixed bag. With the sixth pick, New York took Al Montoya, who was expected to be the team’s future starter but who was overshadowed and replaced by King Hank. Montoya was later dealt to Phoenix in a deal for Fredrik Sjostrom. Their second pick has panned out a lot better as Lauri Korpikoski, who incidentally went at 19, has carved out a solid role on the team. The best Rangers’ pick in that draft so far was Brandon Dubinsky at 60 with Ryan Callahan at 127.
In 2005, New York moved from 16 to 12 in a trade with Atlanta and grabbed Marc Staal, who also was being targeted by Philadelphia. The Rangers grabbed another defenseman at 40, taking Mike Sauer, the selected Brodie Dupont in the third and Tom Pyatt in the fourth.
The Rangers went d-man again in 2006, taking an offensive blue liner in Bobby Sanguinetti, and then added two potential solid scorers in Artem Anisimov in the second and David Kveton, who exploded as a prospect, in the fourth, as well as Ryan Hillier in the third..
2007 saw the Rangers get what looks to be a steal at 17 in Alexei Cherepanov, who was expected to take over from Jaromir Jagr as the team’s main offensive weapon. Tragically he passed away in shady circumstances due to an undetected heart condition in a KHL game last October.
Last year, the Rangers grabbed another offensive blue liner in Michael Del Zotto with the 20th pick. Del Zotto became an OHL All-Star defenseman, scoring 63 points in 62 games last season and adding 19 points in 14 playoff games for the London Knights. As good as Del Zotto is, the team and its fans are higher on their third round pick Evgeny Grachev, who was named OHL rookie of the year last season after getting 40 goals and 40 assists in 60 games and projects to be a top-six forward possibly as early as 2010.
Some 19th selection pick history
NHL draft selections are in many cases a crapshoot at best and picking further down in the first round adds to that uncertainty. More times than not, that pick does not pan out, evidenced by the last two times the Rangers have selected here. As noted above, Korpikoski was taken there in 2004 while Stefan Cherneski, remember him, was picked there in 1997. Some recent picks from 2000 forward: Krys Kolanos, Shaone Morrison, Jakub Koreis, Getzlaf, Korpikoski, Jakub Kindl, Mark Mitera, Logan MacMillan and Luca Sbisa only serve to highlight the uncertainty, with some good, bad and indifferent picks. With any luck, if the Rangers stay in that spot, we will end up with someone who pans out to have the career of Olaf Kolzig, Keith Tkachuk or Getzlaf or maybe like former Rangers Jeff Beukeboom and Martin Straka.
Possible candidates at 19:
So heard any good rumors? Depending on who you listen to or read, the Rangers may deal Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Michal Rozsival, Wade Redden etc in order to acquire Dany Heatley or move up in the draft. Obviously, depending on who is traded, and obtaining someone like Heatley, could change what type of player the team looks to select in the draft. I will list, in no specific order, players who may be there for the taking at 19.
Possible pick with current player comparable from TSN etc:
Nazem Kadri, Center, London (OHL) – Andy McDonald
Scott Glennie, Right Wing, Brandon (WHL) – Jeff Carter
Zack Kassian, Right Wing, Peterborough (OHL) – Todd Bertuzzi/Milan Lucic
Jacob Josefson, Center, Djurgarden, SWE – Henrik Zetterberg
Ryan Ellis, Defenseman, Windsor (OHL) – Reijo Ruotsalainen
John Moore, Defenseman, Chicago, USHL - Ryan Suter
Jordan Schroeder, Right Wing, Univ of Minnesota – Steve Yzerman
Chris Kreider, Center, Andover High-MA – Alexander Mogilny
Tim Erixon, Defenseman, Skelleftea, SWE – Mattias Ohlund
Simon Despres, Defeseman, Saint John (QMJHL) – Jay Bouwmeester
Landon Ferraro, Center, Red Deer (WHL) – Patrick Sharp
Louis Leblanc, Center, Omaha (USHL) – Mike Richards/David Krejci
Nick Leddy, Defenseman, Eden Prairie High-MN - Paul Martin
Kyle Palmieri, Right Wing/Center, U-18 USDP – Chris Drury
David Rundblad, Defenseman, Skelleftea, SWE – Mike Green
Calvin De Haan, Defenseman, Oshawa (OHL) – Tomas Kaberle
Peter Holland, Center, Guelph (OHL) – Patrick Marleau
Carter Ashton, Left Wing, Lethbridge (OHL) - Mike Knuble/Bill Guerin
Jordan Caron, Right Wing, Rimouski, (QMJHL) – Steve Bernier
Jeremy Morin, Center, U-18 USDP – Ray Sheppard
The Rangers have an abundance of defensive depth in the system with Redden, Roszival, Staal and Dan Girardi in the majors as well as unrestricted free agents in Paul Mara and Derek Morris. In the minors, Del Zotto, Sanguinetti, Sauer and Corey Potter are there and that does not include Matt Gilroy, the Hobey Baker Award winner, who the Rangers signed as a free agent. The team lacks a physical defenseman, but is more likely to sign in free agency rather than drafting one, and unless they deal one or two blueliners to grab a forward, look for the team not to select one in the first round unless a projected game-breaker really falls.
New York desperately needs a sniper, one who can score 30-40 goals consistently or at least make the other team focus on him freeing up others. Cherepanov was thought to be that player, but tragically that will not come to be. Grachev may prove to be that player while Anisimov projects to be a solid but not game-breaking center.
Obviously, the draft is a crapshoot and trying to project a specific player is difficult given who may slide, possible trades for current NHL players and Gordie Clark’s willingness to trade up and pick someone who he believes is value for that spot. The player pool is deep, maybe not the top-end talent of years’ past, but enough where Clark could slide down, get a comparable forward to further up and obtain additional selections, otherwise known as the Bill Parcells/Bill Belichick/Jimmy Johnson style of drafting.
If I had my druthers, which I don’t, the players I would like, in order, are Kassian (has a bit of a mean streak, uses body well, skating could improve, prototypical power forward), Glennie (projectable frame, good shot, solid skater, power forward), Ashton (family pedigree, big frame and room to grow, needs to play more physical, solid all-around forward), Kreider (questions if talent at current level projects forward, excellent skater, dominated his level) and Morin (pure goal scorer, some character issues, skating needs improvement). Others are Palmieri, Caron, Ferraro, Holland and Zach Budish.
The Rangers also have picks in the second (47, compensatory pick for Chrepanov), third (80), fifth (139, 150), sixth (169), and seventh (199) rounds.
Many of the comments on my first blog focused on possible selections, feel free to weigh in and tell me if I am way off-base with who I like and your preferences.