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Future Watch – New York Rangers: Brick by brick

The Rangers’ rebuild is in full effect. If it goes right, the foundation they lay now will support a contender of the future.
Vitali Kravtsov

Vitali Kravtsov

B+ / 11th overall

When the Rangers brass announced plans for a significant rebuild in February 2018, fans braced for the long haul. The recent deep playoff runs, led by Henrik Lundqvist, simply would be memories. No one can accurately predict how long a franchise re-engineering – which has included shedding veterans and hiring a new coach in David Quinn – will take. But the critical element is having a bevy of drafted prospects and youngsters acquired via trade who hopefully will produce one day, including promising forwards Filip Chytil, Brett Howden and Brendan Lemieux, who are already on the roster.


1. Vitali Kravtsov (5th overall)
LW, 19, 6-2, 187 – Chelyabinsk (KHL)
2018 draft, 9th overall
Kravtsov is the best offensive player snagged by the Rangers in the first round since Chris Kreider in 2009. “He has high-end skill and elite hockey sense,” said assistant GM Chris Drury. After playing wing all season, Kravtsov centered Russia’s top line during some WJC games. He had four points in three games, then played the final two with an arm injury. Kravtsov speaks English well and wants to come to North America. Presumably he’ll play in the AHL next season.
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2020-21

2. Lias Andersson (34th overall)
C, 20, 6-1, 204 – Hartford (AHL)
2017 draft, 7th overall
Andersson started the season in the AHL, posted 12 points in 14 games and, as the Blueshirts were hit with injuries, was called up in November. He lasted 21 games before being returned. The motor and compete level that made him attractive to scouts were evident, but Andersson had rough spots defensively and couldn’t stick in the top nine. “He’s made progress, and he’s done some good things, but we need to see more consistency,” said coach David Quinn.
FW18| No. 1 – NHL | 2019-20

3. Igor Shestyorkin (37th overall)
G, 23, 6-1, 189 – St. Petersburg (KHL)
GP 28, 1.11, .953
2014 draft, 118th overall
The heir to Henrik Lundqvist, Shestyorkin is finishing his third KHL season and has posted nice stats. Before 71,381 fans in St. Petersburg Dec. 17, Shestyorkin backstopped Russia’s national team to a 5-0 win over Finland, a deceptive score because of his multiple “grade-A saves,” said director of European scouting Nikolai Bobrov. The athletic Shestyorkin will report to his first NHL camp in September. The challenges: smaller ice surface, better competition, more shots.
FW18| No. 3 – NHL | 2019-20

4. K’Andre Miller (62nd overall)
D, 19, 6-4, 205 – Wisconsin (Big Ten)
2018 draft, 22nd overall
The blueliner’s poise and numbers as a freshman have drawn comparisons to the first NCAA seasons of Zach Werenski, Jacob Trouba and Mike Matheson. Miller’s size and skating were attractive, but averaging almost a point per game has raised eyebrows. Said Wisconsin coach Tony Granato: “He is on his way to being the player the Rangers expected when they drafted him and what we expected when we recruited him: to be an elite player that can dominate right out of the gate.”
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2021-22

5. Libor Hajek
D, 21, 6-2, 204 – Hartford (AHL)
Trade (TB), Feb. 26, 2018
The Czech lefty, acquired in the Ryan McDonagh/J.T. Miller trade, has struggled in his transition from junior to the pro. A good-skating defensive defenseman without a strong shot, the 2016 second-rounder (37th overall) needs more AHL experience. He has battled hard and been durable, but his neutral-zone decision-making has been uneven. Hajek is generating shots but has the fewest points among Wolf Pack blueliners. Hajek did amass 12 goals and 39 points in 55 WHL games in 2017-18, so there’s room to grow.
FW18| No. 4 – NHL | 2021-22

6. Nils Lundkvist
D, 18, 5-11, 175 – Lulea (Swe.)
2018 draft, 28th overall
Not a lot of ice time in men’s league, but played close to mistake-free in WJC.

7. Adam Huska
G, 21, 6-4, 220 – Connecticut (HE)
5–13–2, 3.34, .896
2015 draft, 184th overall
Struggling to bounce back after injury cost him two months of sophomore year.

8. Ryan Lindgren
D, 21, 6-0, 200 – Hartford (AHL)
Trade (Bos), Feb. 25, 2018
Tough, stay-at-home defenseman got a short NHL look in December.

9. Morgan Barron
C, 20, 6-3, 214 – Cornell (ECAC)
2017 draft, 174th overall
Beefy sophomore producing many multi-point games. Player of month in January.

10. Joey Keane
D, 19, 6-0, 181 – London (OHL)
2018 draft, 88th overall
Athletic, puck-moving righty slowly adjusting after trade from OHL Barrie.



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