Obtaining high leveled prospects and building a core within your own organization is vital to the success of a franchise. However, quality prospects are not limited to only the first round. Every good team around the NHL can attribute a portion of their success to their drafting in the later rounds, and developing those players into quality NHLers.
Having solid prospects is especially important for competitive teams, as they are usually right up against the salary cap, like the NY Rangers. Having players who can step into the lineup and contribute on an entry-level contract are invaluable.
Additionally, having a good group of prospects in the system allows for more flexibility in the trade market, as they can be used as assets to make the current, competitive team better. The Rangers have a handful of highly touted prospects by the names of Nils Lundkvist, Brennan Othmann, Zac Jones, as well as Braden Schneider and Vitaly Kravtsov (if you still wish to count them as such).
Most fans are aware of these players and their potential ceilings. But there are more Ranger prospects beyond this group that some may not be as familiar with, that could likely be contributors to the roster in the near future, or could be underrated assets in potential trades.
NY Rangers Prospects: Ryder Korczak
Center Ryder Korczak, age 19, was selected in the third round (#75 overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft. He stands at 5 ft 11 and 172 lbs, which is about twelve more than when he was drafted. Looking back to last summer, the consensus was that this pick was a steal by Chris Drury in his first draft as General Manager.
Several draft experts had Korczak ranked in the 30-40 range, and the Rangers were able to select him at pick 75. The primary positive in Korczak’s game is his skating ability. Being a strong skater as a prospect is a good framework to begin with at the beginning of NHL development.
His general strengths are seen as skating, puck protection, playmaking, and vision. The area of his game that is under construction is his physicality and faceoff ability. Korczak was recently signed to his entry-level contract in May, so this fall he will have the opportunity to work on these aspects in training camp/preseason, as well as with the Hartford Wolfpack.
He has drawn comparisons to the play style of Brayden Point. Obviously, this outcome is doubtful. But Point was also a later-round pick and turned out to be a star. It is realistic to see Korczak as a potential top-six forward. He has been playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the Moose Jaw Warriors, and thrived this season, posting 79 points in 68 games.
NY Rangers Prospects: Dylan Garand
Goaltender Dylan Garand, age 20, was selected in the fourth round (#103 overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft by former GM Jeff Gorton. Everyone is aware that goalies are often round in these later rounds (ie: Igor Shesterkin and Henrik Lundqvist). Clearly, those aren’t accurate comparisons, but it’s a testament to why it’s smart to draft your goalies late.
Garand’s stock as a prospect has risen greatly since he was drafted. He was selected to Canada’s stacked World Junior Championship this year, which says a lot about him. His glove hand, positioning, and coverage down low. High shots to his blocker is an area of his game that is still being worked on.
He has performed well in the WHL for the Kamloops Blazers, posting a save percentage of .925. His pre-draft performances have been compared to Carter Hart, and he projects to be a quality starting goalie in the NHL. When he is ready, he could make a great backup to Shesterkin for three years.
NY Rangers Prospects: Brett Berard
Winger Brett Berard, 19, was drafted in the fifth round (134 overall) in the 2020 NHL draft. He stands only 5 ft 9 inches but plays with all of his heart. Similar to Bobby Trivigno, he doesn’t let his size create a disadvantage for him.
He is a skilled winger who can fulfill a number of tasks on the ice. He is good at carrying the puck in on zone entries, but can also get into the corner to forecheck. He could be suited on the fourth line, but can also compliment star players nicely on a top line. Very Zach Hyman-esque. In the World Junior Tournament, he was linemates with top prospect Matty Beniers for team USA.
He has played two seasons at Providence College, and exploded this year, proving to be a top player in the NCAA. He is appearing to be of great value for a fifth-round pick. All three of these prospects are currently participating in the Rangers prospect development camps. Keep your eye on them, as they could surprise many in the next few years.