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Oceanside, CA • United States • 33 Years Old • Male
Now that the Stanley Cup Finals have concluded, its time for us fans to start looking at the offseason and how are we going to improve our rosters so we can compete for a cup next year. I'm going to put a little different spin on that thought by discussing what I would do if I was GM of the Rangers and we had the first overall pick in this year's draft instead of the Isles. The top two candidates to be selected #1 overall are Swedish Defenseman Victor Hedman and Canadien goal scorer John Tavares. Both players bring tons of potential and skill to the table. Obviously, both players have different strengths as well.

First, I will analyze why each player would be appealing to the Rangers and what reasons I may have for drafting or not drafting them. Then I will give my final choice and the reasons I made that choice.

Victor Hedman - He has been likened to Chris Pronger because of his size and skill. He hasn't displayed the same level of nastiness as Pronger but scouts feel that will develop in time as he matures. When Pronger expressed his desire to be traded from Edmonton, I was hopeful that the Rangers could put together a package to bring Chris to Manhattan. Given that, I would love to see a player of Hedman's skill set patrolling the Rangers blue line. One school of thought on how to build a consistent contender is to build your roster from the goal out. With Henrik Lundqvist providing great play in the Rangers net, young starters Marc Staal and Dan Girardi on the blue line already and with former 1st round picks Bobby Sanguinetti and Michael Del Zotto set to join them in a year or two, the Rangers have a good start on that. Adding Hedman would put the Rangers in a category above almost anyone in the league.

John Tavares - Would likely have been the top selection in 2008 ahead of Steven Stamkos had he been born a few weeks earlier. Instead he may be the top pick in 2009. Tavares is a pure offensive force who averaged better than a goal per game in the OHL this past season. He has decent size at 6' and 185 pounds. He played very well at the World Juniors scoring highlight reel goals. Cerainly he could provide the type of offensive firepower that was missing last season after Jagr was sent packing to Europe.

Some negatives about drafting a defensemen #1 overall instead of a forward is that defensemen tend to take longer than forwards to develop and they tend not to have as high a ceiling as a forward. I looked at the #1 overall selections in the NHL between 1990 and 1999. I chose these years because the players drafted during that time have had enough time to fully develop and we can assess more easily how the pick worked out. Here's what I found:

Defenseman were selected #1 overall 4 times; 1992 - Roman Hamrlik, 1994 - Ed Jovanovski, 1995 - Brian Berard, and 1996 - Chris Phillips. Of these players, none seem destined for the Hall of Fame. There are several All-Star appearances sprinkled throughout but I don't beleive that any of these players had the impact expected of a #1 overall pick. Jovanovski has probably had the most impact but when you remember that he was often compared to Scott Stevens leading up to the draft, it seems fair to say that he didn't live up to the lofty expectations. Hamrlik has had a nice career as has Phillips. Berard could have been a real stud if not for a terrible eye injury which nearly forced him to retire. He managed to continue his career but wasn't the same kind of impact player.

Fowards drafted during this time include; 1990 - Owen Nolan, 1991 - Eric Lindros, 1993 - Alexandre Daigle, 1997 - Joe Thornton, 1998 - Vinny Lecavalier, and 1999 - Patrik Stefan. Of these players, 2 were complete busts (Stefan and Daigle), 1 was considered the best player in the league for a portion of his career but injuries caused him to fall short of expectations (Eric Lindros), 1 has had a very good career befitting a top selection (Owen Nolan) and the other two (Thornton and Lecavalier) are two of the top players in the league and seem certain to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

It would appear that drafting a defenseman 1st overall is safer than drafting a forward #1 overall as none of the defensemen drafted could be considered "busts". However, you lose out on upside when going that route. Also, looking back at the player Hedman is most often compared to, Chris Pronger took several seasons to develop into the top defenseman he is today. He played 2 good seasons in Hartford before a trade to St. Louis seemed to open things up for Pronger. It wasn't until his 4th season that Pronger recorded double figures in goals. He didn't average better than .5 points-per-game until his abbreviated 6th NHL season. Forwards often contribute more quickly (at least statistically) than defensemen.

Now for my selection: I would, without a doubt, select Tavares. Why? The Rangers sorely need a sniper of Tavares' quality. Nik Zherdev led all Rangers with only 23 goals while Ryan Callahan and Chris Drury each chipped in with 22. The Rangers need a dynamic offensive player to match up with teams in the east like Pittsburgh, Washington and Philadelphia that all have one or more of those types.

Another reason I would favor Tavares is star quality. New York is the BIGGEST sports market in the US and they need a star player to be the face of the franchise. Right now I would say that Henrik Lundqvist is the face of the Rangers franchise. That's not a bad thing but it doesn't seem quite right for a goalie to be the face of a franchise. By rule, goalies aren't even allowed to wear the Captain's "C". Tavares could be that STAR and the face of the franchise. Just like Ron Duguay, Andy Bathgate and Mark Messier when they wore the Rangers sweater.

I have no doubt that both Hedman and Tavares will be stars in this league. But if the Rangers had the opportunity to select between the two, I would hope they take the "Face", John Tavares.
Filed Under:   Heman   Tavares   Rangers  
June 15, 2009 11:13 AM ET | Delete
I agree, if we had the opportunity, Tavares would be the one for us, although Matt Duchene would be intriguing too, considering he has been Evgeny Grachev's linemate in Brampton throughout the year.Too bad we have a snow ball's chance in hell of getting one of the top two picks though.
June 15, 2009 2:55 PM ET | Delete
At this point I'd take anyone who would come in here and score 35 - 40 goals next season. We're not likely going to go far in the playoffs until we can get more consistency in the goal scoring department.
June 15, 2009 4:11 PM ET | Delete
what we need to do is not sign anymore UFA's and let our kids develop. We have some excellent young players like Grachev, Anisimov and possibly Stepan down the line, as well as the continued development of Callahan, Dubinsky and korpikoski. We need to stop spending money.
June 15, 2009 4:59 PM ET | Delete
I agree, although it isn't neccesarily spending the money that is our problem; it's who we've spent the money on. We are paying Drury, Gomez, Redden and Rozsival to be top players and they are performing like 2nd liners and #3 or 4 defensemen. Personally, I can't wait to see how much Sanguinetti reminds us of Leetch.
June 15, 2009 5:08 PM ET | Delete
Personally I believe once any player gets really big money, they lose a little bit of the hunger in their game. there are exceptions, like Ovechkin of course, but you give anyone 7 million a year and they buy the big houses and cars etc, they lose a little bit of their willingness to play hard
June 15, 2009 5:14 PM ET | Delete
That might apply to Rozsival especially. I think with Drury he just isn't a top line player and now he is trying to hard to play like one since he is being paid like one. And then we give him the captaincy too. That's a lot of pressure. Redden had been an enigma his last few seasons in Ottawa; not sure why Sather though he would be any different in New York.
June 15, 2009 5:16 PM ET | Delete
Redden is the worst contract in sports history. I don't know what Sather was thinking in terms of dollars and length if contract. It's absolutely absurd.
June 15, 2009 5:43 PM ET | Delete
I read on Eric Smith's blog that apparently Howson had an offer in to Redden. Too bad he didn't take that one and then we could've grabbed Mark Streit or someone else. I'm doing a little thought on a blog on buyouts. I'm going to look at the ramifications of buying Redden's (among others) deal out.
June 15, 2009 6:04 PM ET | Delete
Buying out Redden now is ~2.06667 over 10 years, it goes up a bit next year over 8 years... Either way I think we could run a better organization than that man.
June 15, 2009 6:28 PM ET | Delete
I agree. With the economy possibly deflating the FA market, I'd like to think we could get a better performer than Redden at the difference between his salary and the cap hit on the buyout ($4 million ). We'd eat dead money on the cap for 5 years beyond the term left but we are the Rangers and the cap at that time might be significantly higher......at least theoretically.
June 15, 2009 9:43 PM ET | Delete
or we could just stick Redden in Hartford never never land and not worry about a cap hit at all.
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