NEW YORK, NY – The Rangers went into this years draft looking to restock the coffers with young talent to shorten the rebuild that started this past January. With the 9th pick in the draft the Blueshirts took forward Vitali Kravtsov. The 18-year old Russian winger is close to a sure thing to make an impact in the coming years. He has been lighting up the KHL and now he has a chance to show what he can do in North America. Kravtsov may see some NHL action next season as the Rangers won’t even pretend to be competitive.
Next, the Rangers traded the 26th pick and a second rounder to Ottawa to draft K’Andre Miller with the 22nd pick. Miller is a young athletic specimen that was converted from forward to defenseman a couple of years ago. He’s got immense potential, but he’s unproven. If he continues pulling his game together and maxes out on potential, he will be an all-star defenseman in short order. Miller will head to college to hone his talents next season.
The Blueshirts took another defenseman in Nils Lundkvist with the 28th pick. Lundkvist (no relation to Henrik Lundqvist) is probably the most refined of the first round picks. He’s a solid two-way defenseman who has already found success in the Swedish Hockey League. If Lundkvist and Miller can get it together in the next couple of years, the Rangers will be in very good shape defensively.
The Rangers did a good job with their first round picks but tailed off as the draft progressed past the first day. I’d still rate this draft a success and now we get to look forward to the most fun day in hockey: Free Agency starts Sunday at noon and by 12:05 we should know what most of the rosters will look like next season. It’s a strange system. The deals are all in place beforehand but the contracts can’t be signed until noon on July 1st. It makes for a very interesting afternoon, following the TSN free agency tracker. Who will overpay for average talent to fill a void or appease the fans? Who will follow the money to a place they have no shot of winning? We’ll find out Sunday.
Switching our view to soccer-ball, things are really heating up in the World Cup. As Junoir Blaber touched on yesterday, we’re into the knock-out round, which starts today at 10am. England’s loss with a wink on Thursday ensures they have an easier-looking run-in to the finals. But they still have to win the games. They play their first knockout game Tuesday against Colombia. In the meantime, there are some really interesting matches on the schedule. France take on Argentina this morning while Uruguay face Christiano Ronaldo and Portugal this afternoon. It should make for some great viewing.
Tomorrow Spain take on hosts Russia and Croatia go head-to-head with Denmark. Russia have done well and have hosted a good tournament while Spain have been underwhelming throughout the group stage. This isn’t the Spain team that took over the world a decade ago winning two European Championships and a World Cup in the span of six years. They could be headed home tomorrow. We’ll have to wait and see.
That’s all for me today. Come back tomorrow for some Cheesy Bruin.