The New York Rangers’ can address their dwindling prospect pool in this year’s draft. Let’s look at the styles of player that the Rangers should target at each position.
The New York Rangers have developed most of their current core themselves. Through either great drafting in mid to late rounds, pro scouting in Europe and the NCAA, or trading for younger assets, they have managed to be a consistent playoff team with a great average age. With players like Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich turning pro, the importance of drafting well is that much more evident.
The prospect pool in recent years has regressed some, with most of the talent graduating to the NHL. Not having a first round pick since 2012 has not helped their case, but the Rangers have managed to keep the youth alive by signing players out of Europe, like Alexei Bereglazov, and NCAA players like Jimmy Vesey and Neal Pionk.
This year, the Rangers have a first round pick. While the mid to late rounds will still be important for the growth of the prospect group, the first round pick will be the biggest. The Rangers will need to draft based on their needs, and the most glaring need is defense.
Specifically speaking, the Rangers will need to look for a puck moving defenseman in the draft. The first two rounds will likely feature the highest quality of these. The best place to look for one of these would be in Europe; there, players have experience against men and are eligible for the AHL immediately.
Having a defenseman on an entry level contract, whether it be now or in the future, will be immensely important to the Rangers success. This is an area the Rangers have not only struggled in, but also suffered greatly cap-wise.
Should the best available player be a forward that simply cannot be passed on for a defenseman, the Rangers should hope he is a fast, skilled playmaking center. The Rangers are currently strong down the middle, but could benefit from more speed at the center position to match the wingers they will have to carry.
Drafting a goalie is not a necessity for the Rangers. Igor Shestyorkin is the Rangers strongest goaltending prospect by a country mile. He is followed by another talented netminder in U-Conn’s Adam Huska. The Rangers are confident that they have their replacement for Henrik Lundqvist waiting in the ranks.
If they decide to add to the goalie prospects they currently have, they cannot use their first round pick on one. History does not bode well for goalies selected in the first round, though. Many NHL caliber goalies can be found in rounds five through seven.
The Rangers have an opportunity to make a good positive change to the team. Adding depth at the positions they need and developing those prospects through the organization will determine the team’s future success. Whatever it may entail, that success begins with the players they select now.
Stay tuned for individual prospect profiles, draft targets, and other draft analysis!