It’s not that the New York Rangers are bad at drafting. They just don’t do it as often as most other franchises. Thanks to playing in one of the most desirable sports markets in the world and having a splendid core that makes Stanley Cup runs, the Blueshirts have tended to build through trades and free agency lately – and it works. But because of that, New York has picked in the first round just once in the past three drafts (Brady Skjei in 2013) and, barring a trade, it won’t pick in the top 30 this year, either.
Round 2, pick 59
Round 3, pick 89
Round 4, pick 119
Round 6, pick 179
The Rangers aren’t particularly gritty up front, and that’s fine when the speedsters are on their horses, but it wouldn’t hurt to get some rougher, edgier players back in the jersey – think Andrew Shaw in Chicago or Kyle Clifford in Los Angeles.
With the exception of Ryan McDonagh, every regular in the Rangers ‘D’ core is in his late 20s or older. Right now the unit is in its prime, but reinforcements will be needed in the coming years. The smooth-skating Skjei is one option, while Ryan Graves and Ryan Mantha are 6-foot-5 wild cards, but a blue-chipper would be nice. Aside from Skjei, the last time the Rangers went high on a defenseman was with enforcer Dylan McIlrath in 2010.
With just a couple million in cap space left, the Rangers have some tough decisions and negotiations ahead of them. Martin St-Louis is a UFA, while top center Derek Stepan and the fleet-footed Carl Hagelin need new deals as RFAs.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16:
Skjei is the best bet as a new face next season, but even he’ll be in tough. The quick blueliner left the University of Minnesota after three years and has started his pro career in the AHL. But the potency of New York’s blueline means he’d be bottom pairing at best.
DID YOU KNOW:
GM Glen Sather has had just 12 first round picks in 16 drafts (including 2015) with the Rangers – selecting in the top eight just once. In Sather’s 20 drafts as GM of the Oilers, he had 24 first-rounders, selecting in the top eight seven times.