NEW YORK, NY – The NHL Draft took place last week and the New York Rangers came away with a nice haul. After the sad news that the Blueshirts bought out the last year of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract, it was nice to see them restock in the draft. The draft left Rangers fans excited for the start of hockey in January.
New York had the first overall pick and used it wisely to pick the best player in the draft, in Alexis Lafrenière. The winger was hands-down the best prospect in the draft and is almost assured to become a star. The only question was whether the wing-heavy rangers would choose to select a centre (Canadian spelling for authenticity) with the first overall pick instead. Quinton Byfield was a solid option for a centre but he doesn’t have the talent that Lafreniere has. However, the Rangers made the right choice in drafting a once-a-generation player in Lafrenière.
The Broadway Blues also had the 22nd overall pick which they acquired from Carolina. They decided to trade up to the 19th overall pick, which they used to select right-handed defenseman Braden Schneider. This was a bit of a surprise. Schneider is a solid two-way defenseman that was late first round material. The Rangers trading up to select a right-handed defenseman, of which they already have several in the system, seemed odd. The Devils were likely going to take Schneider with the 20th pick, so the Rangers trading up makes a bit more sense. And the Rangers could get a decent haul in return for a trade involving Schneider. There are plenty of teams that need a good right-handed defenseman.
In the second round with the 60th overall pick, #NYR took 18-year old winger Will Cuylle. Cuylle has good size and a decent skill set, but needs a lot of development before he is NHL-ready. Time will tell if he can make the jump from Juniors to the professional game.
GM Jeff Gorton & Co took Swedish centre Oliver Tarnstrom in the third round. This was a decent selection. Like Cuylle, Tarnstrom has a good skill set but needs a good bit of polish before he can make the jump to the NHL.
In the fourth round, they grabbed young goalie prospect Dylan Garand. The experts seem to think this was a good selection and many thought Garand would go higher in the draft.
The New York Rangers Hockey Club now have a lot of depth on the wings and a host of good defensive prospects. They’ve got their goalie for the foreseeable future in Igor Shesterkin and are set with their top line. They still lack depth in the middle, but they will have plenty of cap room next year to make a splash and plenty of prospects to use as trade bait. The Rangers were pretty quiet at the start of free agency and mostly made signings to protect their key assets in next year’s expansion draft. They’ll pay about $11 million to Shattenkirk and Lundqvist this year so the team will tread lightly until next season.
Things are looking bright a year out for the Madison Square Garden boys.
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