New York Rangers: Taking a look at their draft record and thoughts about the future

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DALLAS, TX – JUNE 22: Vitali Kravtsov pose after being selected ninth overall by the New York Rangers during the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

How good is the New York Rangers record at the NHL Entry Draft?   It seems like  other NHL teams have done much better than the Blueshirts, but annual playoff appearances argue that the team has actually done a good job. It’s when it come to top picks that they falter.

It’s easy to be negative about the New York Rangers’ ability to draft good players.  That perception is really based on a horrible record of drafting top picks.  They Rangers have been very good at finding solid players later in the draft and have made some spectacular finds in the late rounds.

Today we will take a deeper look at the Rangers track record at the Entry Draft.  Yesterday we took a look at the Rangers record in drafting a stud goal scorer.  It wasn’t a pretty picture.

When it comes to defensemen and goalies, the team has a pretty solid drafting resume.   Goalies include Henrik Lundqvist, Mike Richter, John Vanbiesbrouck, Doug Soetaert, Dan Cloutier and Al Montoya.

The Rangers selection of Lundqvist in the 7th round, 205th overall, ranks as possibly the best late round pick in NHL history.  Vanbiesbrouck was a fourth round pick in 1981.  While some may feel that the Rangers wasted first round picks on Montoya and Cloutier, they both ended up having long NHL careers, though not in New York.

They have drafted two Hall of Fame Defensemen in Brian Leetch and Brad Park.  Others who had notable NHL careers include James Patrick, Sergei Zubov, Dave Maloney, Ron Greschner, Mike McEwen, Mario Marois, Tom Laidlaw, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Kjell Samuelsson, Mattias Norstrom, Kim Johnsson, Fedor Tyutin, Marek Zidlicky, Michael Del Zotto, Michael Sauer and the current Rangers, Mark Staal and Brady Skjei.

Some late rounds gems include 4th rounders like Marois,  5th rounders like Zubov and 6th rounders like Laidlaw, Samuelsson and Ruotsalainen,  In 1994, the Rangers selected Kim Johnsson with the 286th pick in the 11th round, the last pick of the draft.  He made it to the Rangers, but was traded to Philadelphia in the Eric Lindros deal  in his sophomore season.  He retired after ten years in the NHL, playing  739 games.

Top Picks

As for Rangers drafting acumen, they have had a pick in the top 15 eleven times since winning the Cup in 1994.  Their track record isn’t good when it comes to those picks and if Lias Andersson doesn’t develop into an NHL star, it will just reinforce that reputation.  Here are the selections:

1998      Manny Malhotra  #7
1999      Pavel Brendl  #4
1999      Jamie Lundmark  #9
2001      Dan Blackburn  #10
2003      Hugh Jessiman  #12
2004      Al Montoya   #6
2005      Mark Staal    #12
2010      Dylan McIIrath   #10
2011      J.T. Miller  #15
2017     Lias Andersson #7
2018     Vitali Kravtsov  #9

Of those 11 picks, five were absolute busts.  It’s too early to tell about Andersson and Kravtsov.  Staal and Miller are above average NHL players while Malhotra and Montoya had decent careers.

Let’s compare that record to the Los Angeles Kings, the Rangers’ 2014 nemesis.  Since 1994, the Kings have had ten picks in the top 15.  One was a bust.  Five players had solid NHL careers for other teams.  Three went on to win Stanley Cups and one is with the current team. Of that group, Dustin Brown was picked #13 in 2003, the year the Rangers picked Jessiman.

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