Mistake #3: The 2018 Draft
By the the time the 2018 draft rolled around, Jeff Gorton and the Rangers must have believed that the rebuild was going great. On offense, they had first round picks Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil and Brett Howden. The defense included Ryan Lindgren, Libor Hajek, Yegor Rykov along with Tony DeAngelo. In the draft the Rangers had stockpiled six picks in the first three rounds including three in the first round.
The Rangers thought they did well in this draft, again going off the board to pick right winger Vitali Kravtsov with the ninth overall pick. With their other two first round picks, they drafted K’Andre Miller (22nd overall) and Nils Lundkvist (28th overall). With their second round pick, they selected Swedish goalie Olof Lindbom (39th overall) and in the third round they took defenseman Jacob Ragnarsson (70th overall) and defenseman Joey Keane (88th overall).
It was in this draft that the Rangers built up a prospect pool of defensemen that was the envy of the rest of the NHL, but Gorton knew that the Rangers needed offense and they used their top pick on Kravtsov, a top offensive threat.
Now, three and half years later, players picked in that draft are beginning to make their name in the NHL. K’Andre Miller is already one of the stars of that draft and Nils Lundkvist made the move to the NHL this season.
But when it comes to their top pick, the situation has been nothing but a disaster. There’s no need to go into detail about the Kravtsov situation except to say that he may never play for New York and the question is whether the Rangers will get fair value for him when he is traded.
In the meantime, forwards picked after Kravtsov who are starting to have an impact include Joel Farabee (#14), Oliver Wahlstrom (#11), Isac Lundestrom (#23), Yegor Sharangovich (#141) and Philipp Kurashev (#120). 23 players drafted in 2018 after Kravtsov have played in more games in the NHL than Kravtsov’s 20 games.
The DeAngelo disaster
Jeff Gorton looked like a genius when he got Tony DeAngelo in the deal with Arizona. It took the defenseman a couple years, but in 2019-20 he became one of the top offensive blueliners in the NHL. Even with the disastrous first round pick, if DeAngelo was still a productive player for the Rangers the deal wouldn’t be so bad. But we all know how that worked out. This wasn’t a mistake made at the time, but ultimately Gorton was turned a a smart move into a total waste.