The New York Rangers committed to building a future for the organization through the annual NHL entry-level draft following the release of a letter to season ticket holders on February 8th, 2018.
In the last six years, the Rangers have selected seven prospective players from amateur leagues to create a foundation for its future. Six of the seven selected athletes have skated for the team since their name was called at the podium.
The franchise is notoriously unsuccessful in selecting young talent. With a scribed commitment to rebuilding, how has the team faired in the draft since “The Letter”?
Vital Kravstov (9th overall): Kravstov was an off-the-board selection in a loaded 2018 draft. Gord Clark was high in selecting the winger from Traktor Chelyabinsk in the organization’s first draft following “The Letter”.
The pick ultimately busted. His poor relationship with two different front office regimes and an inability to adapt his skill and game to the NHL disappointed Rangerstown, as he was touted as a skilled scoring winger. The Rangers had not drafted a player of that profile in their modern era.
The twenty-three-year-old has moved back home to Russia. In the NHL, he skated in sixty-four games, recording six goals and six assists for the Rangers and Vancouver Canucks.
K’Andre Miller (22nd overall): The Rangers traded with the Ottawa Senators in a swap that allowed the franchise to hop four picks ahead of the original 26th selection that they acquired from trading Rick Nash to Boston at the 2018 trade deadline.
Miller was advertised as a pure athlete, converting from playing football and ice hockey as forward, to a rearguard on the ice. His six-foot-five-inch frame provides outstanding reach to take up more space in his end.
The Minnesota native shocked many when he made the team out of camp in 2021. His play has been received by analysts and fans as streaky, with periods of shutdown defense like the 2022 post-season, and disappointing efforts like the 2023 seven-game series.
Miller has skated in two hundred and fourteen games, posting twenty-one goals, fifty-four assists, and seventy-five points, regarded as one of the standout young defensemen in the game.
Nils Lundkvist (28th overall): The New York Rangers acquired Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, and the 28th overall draft selection on February 25th, 2018.
Lundkvist was chosen out of Lulea HF of Sweden. The five-foot-eleven mobile and quick d-man showed promise, but less than a year following his drafting the Rangers acquired Adam Fox.
He simply did not fit into the team’s right defense lineup, crowded by Trouba, Fox, and his inability to be effective on the left side as a right-handed athlete.
He was traded to Dallas where he posted six goals and 10 assists in sixty games in 2022-2023.
Kaapo Kakko (2nd overall): The New York Rangers, fortunately, jumped in the draft selection order, originally holding the 6th spot based on where they finished in 2018-2019.
You can thank a random Buchnevich late-game-tying goal and former Columbus Blue Jacket winger Artemi Panarin for the shootout winner that resulted in the exact point total New York finished with to make all of this happen.
Kakko was the center of attention as being potentially just as good as Jack Hughes, scoring the golden goal at the WJC in 2019 against Team USA.
The hype was real, and Kakko was taken as a volume goal scorer, with size and excellent puck possession.
The Turku native is still on the road to blossoming in the NHL and will be under his third coach heading into his sixth season.
His play off the puck is remarkable, and his recent forty-point season showed promise for the second-highest draft pick in team history (tied with Brad Park in 1966).
Alexis Lafreniere (1st overall): Alexis Lafreniere vanquished his opponents in the QMJHL, posting back-to-back one-hundred-point seasons for Rimouski Oceanic.
The Rangers lucked out and earned the first overall selection in the 2020 NHL draft. It was no doubt that they would select the phenom.
At the time he was lauded as a potential generational talent, having played at the WJC in 2019 as an 18-year-old.
Lafreniere hasn’t performed to the level of a player that warranted a first-overall selection. He has posted ninety-one points in two hundred and sixteen NHL games and has the most to prove of anyone on the roster this upcoming season after having an abysmal playoff performance against New Jersey.
Braden Schneider (19th overall): The Rangers traded with the Calgary Flames to jump their rival New Jersey Devils four spots to select the Brandon Wheat Kings all-class physical two-way defender.
The twenty-one-year-old is rock solid as a third-pairing defender on Broadway and has tallied twenty-nine points in one hundred and twenty-four games. He’s also skated in twenty-seven post-season games for the club.
Brennan Othmann (16th overall): Following a tumultuous end to the 2021 season, Chris Drury’s first draft selection as general manager was a head-scratcher.
The organization needed center depth, and with Buchnevich recently traded, it was to be assumed that Kakko or Lafreniere would step into the top six. Why draft another winger so high in the draft?
OHL champion, WJC gold medalist, Brennan Othmann is looking like the real deal as he approaches the professional stage. The way it has all shaken out, it’s a blessing the Rangers have a natural right winger, as Kakko is the only natural right winger returning to the team in 2023-2024.
In 2021-2022 Othmann posted ninety-seven points for the Flint Firebirds. In 2022-2023 he skated as a Peterborough Pete and posted forty points, and an additional twenty-five points to win the J. Ross Robertson trophy.
It goes without saying he may have the highest ceiling of the organization’s recent first-round selections.
No selection- The pick was traded to Winnipeg Jets in the Andrew Copp deal. The condition on a draft pick in the trade stated that if the Rangers made it to the ECF they would surrender their 1st round draft pick. With the 30th overall pick, the Jets drafted Brad Lambert.
The New York Rangers own the 23rd overall draft pick in this year’s draft, held on June 28th in Nashville.