The New York Rangers are scheduled to select 28th overall in the June draft (barring a trade for Rick Nash) meaning they will make their first pick later than they have since 2002, when New York selected center Lee Falardeau 33rd overall out of Michigan State.
By pick number 28, all of the “can’t miss” prospects will be long gone and there won’t be a whole lot of top talent still available, which leaves the Rangers in an interesting position.
The organization has done a tremendous job assembling prospect depth in recent years and currently boasts an embarrassment of riches.
On defense, the Blueshirts have three All-Star caliber players under the age of 29 and top prospects Tim Erixon and Dylan McIlrath on the way as well.
Up front New York has supplemented a rugged young core with an infusion of skill in the form of Chris Kreider and value picks that could pay major dividends like Michael St. Croix and Steven Fogarty.
The only position that truly lacks depth in the pipeline is in goal, where the team has spent little energy since unearthing franchise keeper Henrik Lundqvist. But, it’s rare for teams to draft goaltenders in the first round, and would be completely nonsensical for a team that boasts a Vezina Trophy candidate that’s just 30-years-old, so it’s a safe bet that New York won’t burn the 28th pick on a netminder.
There are no sure things that deep into the draft and given the Rangers’ current prospect depth, the team’s first-round pick this year might represent a good opportunity to swing for the fences. This would be a perfect time to select a high-risk, high-reward player, one that the scouting staff believes has high-end talent but may come with major question marks.
Not all teams are in position to make such a pick, but the Blueshirts have the luxury of an existing nucleus of very solid young talent and a team that has already proven itself as a viable contender.
While GM Glen Sather, Director of Personnel Gordie Clark and company have had tremendous success lately drafting players of a specific mindset – and they deserve kudos for following such a unique blueprint – the playoffs showed us that New York does need another elite level talent or two.
One may be obtained via free agency or trade this summer, but this would also be a golden chance for the Blueshirts to snap up a player that has legitimate concerns, but that they believe has the potential to turn into a truly special player down the road. Someone like, say, Tom Wilson of the Plymouth Whalers, a pure power forward that stands out for his physical play but may or may not have the offensive ceiling to become a true top-six forward.