NY Rangers get the job done with Bryce McConnell-Barker selection

NY Rangers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NY Rangers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The NY Rangers just addressed a key need at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and, in doing so, they added an intriguing prospect to the farm system. On Day Two of the Draft, the Rangers entered play with six selections including the No. 63 overall pick in the Second Round. With that selection, they took Slovakian left-wing Adam Sykora, who was a late riser up many draft boards.

However, it was their first pick of the Third Round that could end up being the most significant for the franchise moving forward. It is hardly a secret that the Blueshirts lack depth at center. Badly. And that isn’t good when you consider that the center ice position is one of the most important in the NHL. It is as vital as the quarterback in the NFL, an ace pitcher in baseball and a point guard in basketball that can lead their team on the floor.

The NY Rangers are getting a good prospect in Bryce McConnell-Barker

As such, the Rangers front office ensured that their next two picks were spent on pivots by taking Bryce McConnell-Barker with the No. 97 overall pick and Noah Laba being selected at No. 111.

While both selections addressed a pretty glaring need, McConnell-Barker in particular is a really interesting pick with a lot of upside. It could turn out to be a really smart piece of drafting by General Manager Chris Drury.

Boasting good size at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, McConnell-Barker is considered a reliable two-way center that can play a real 200-foot game. He has high-end speed, a lethal shot, high hockey IQ, great awareness and astute decision-making. All qualities and intangibles you seek in a center.

The forward was also productive for the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL during the 2021-22 season, putting up 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points in 68 games. Only 18-years-old, it is safe to assume that McConnell-Barker will only grow offensively as he gets older and also gets access to high-end coaching in the Rangers’ system.

Plus, with blistering speed, slick hands and an ability to read the game, the left-shot could prove to be a real weapon on the penalty kill when it comes to shorthanded goals. With all the intangibles there, McConnell-Barker has the potential to morph into a top-six center for the Rangers that can make sizeable contributions at both ends of the ice.

He back checks well, finishes his checks and hits hard, and he also plays responsible defense in his own zone. Again, there’s a lot to like about this kid and his size means he could play up and down the lineup.

Of course, it will take the forward some time to develop but viewed by some as a potential late pick in the First Round, McConnell-Barker has the potential and the ceiling to rise up the depth chart for the Blueshirts and potentially be ready to make the leap to the NHL in the next couple of years.

With Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp both set to test Free Agency, that leaves the center depth behind Mika Zibanejad and Filip Chytil dangerously thin. And, while the Rangers will need to add a center in Free Agency or via a trade, their movements today at the Draft were a huge step in the right direction.

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Drafting two pivots with lots of upside immediately bolsters the center depth in the farm system, and McConnell-Barker has all the tools needed to potentially become a valuable NHL center for the Rangers later down the line.