Many teams look at the NHL Entry Draft as a way to find that future star to build their team around, or a way to find a player that will help take their team to the next level without sacrificing their current core of players.
The New York Rangers fit into that second category. After finishing in first place in the Eastern Conference with 109 points, the Rangers come into this draft looking for that one player that will take them to that next level, the Stanley Cup.
The Rangers hold four picks in the first four rounds of the Entry Draft that is hosted in Pittsburgh at the CONSOL Energy Center. Those picks are the 28th, 59th, 89th, and 119th.
With an offseason surrounded by the news of Marian Gaborik needing shoulder surgery (via Larry Brooks of the NY Post) and rumors of Rick Nash coming to New York (via NY Post), some Ranger fans might have overlooked the draft. However, there are prospects that can help the Rangers in the near future. This year’s draft should not be overlooked.
Here are five players the New York Rangers should consider drafting as they head into this weekends draft.
Thanks to thehockeywriters.com for prospect information and scouting reports.
Chris Calnan turned plenty of heads at this year’s combine. At 6’2", 195 pounds, Calnan place in the top ten in 14 out of 29 strength and endurance events at the combine. In five of those events, he finished in first place. This past year at Noble, Calnan posted 55 points in just 29 games.
Scouts rave about Calnan’s offensive game and his physical game. According to Bill Placzek of draftsite.com, Calnan is a “[l]arger wing who causes problems for the opposition at both ends. A very good forechecker and shows decent enough passing and shooting abilities to think that he can ascend the ladder to pro. Has a strong wrist shot and is a good skater who has some grit to his game.”
Calnan still has one more year left at Noble and plans to play for Boston College for the 2013-2014 season, but that can all change depending on what happens in the draft.
Calnan is expected to be a fourth-round pick, and the Rangers would love to add a winger like him. He is highly coach-able, and his physical game is always cranked up to an eleven. With the Rangers team identity revolving around a strong forecheck and physical play, Calnan would fit right in, even if it took the estimated five years for the Rangers to call him up.
Max Iafrate is the son of Al Iafrate, an All-Star defenseman who tallied nine 30+ point seasons in 12 years at the NHL level.
Max is an interesting case. When drafted in 2010, by the Plymouth Whalers (OHL), in the first round, Iafrate struggled and had a difficult time finding ice time. Over the summer, he was traded to the Kitchener Rangers and transformed into a completely new player. He is now a defenseman that can be relied upon on defense and contributes on offense by joining the rush.
According to Bill Placzek of draftsite.com, Iafrate has “[h]igh-end ability and a good ice presence that helps him make good decisions. Has excellent feet, and moves the puck very well. Confident player in both the offensive and defensive zones.”
This past season, defensemen on the Rangers were very active on the offensive end. Guys like McDonagh and Del Zotto always jumped in to put pressure on the opposing team’s defense. With Del Zotto being a restricted free agent this year and McDonagh, next year, if the Rangers are unable to sign those two players to long-term deals, they will be looking to add an offensive defenseman. Max Iafrate would make a great third-round pick.
Speed, that is what Andreas Athanasiou (pronounced ath-an-ah-see-ew) offers heading into this draft.
What do the Rangers currently have? Speed. With speed skaters Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider, Athanasiou would fit perfectly in a line with those two a couple of years down the road.
I say a couple of years down the road because Athanasiou still needs to put on some weight and muscle to play at the next level, especially for teams that like to forecheck and work hard in the trenches like the New York Rangers.
Consistency is a problem for Athanasiou. He would go long stretches without production and sometimes find himself ending up as a healthy scratch.
With many considering Athanasiou a “boom or bust prospect,” it is unsure what round he will be drafted. Some mock drafts report him being picked in the second round, and others say he can possibly fall to the third.
With “speed that kills” and skills that make him a terrific stickhandler, the Rangers might have to roll the dice and draft Andreas in the second round.
While he may be smaller than the average NHL goalie (6’1", 188 pounds), Subban has great agility and quickness. He is able to move post to post with great mobility. Subban compares his style to Penguins' current goaltender Mark-Andre Fleury.
However, the biggest problem with Subban is he is still a work in progress. He has only been a goalie since the age of 12 (he's currently 18) and has problems with rebound control which is always key in the NHL.
Still, in mock drafts and scouting reports, many consider Subban the goaltender with the most upside in this year’s draft.
With Henrik Lundqvist showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Subban would be a great understudy to the “King of New York." It is up to the Rangers if they want to draft a goalie in the first round or wait until the later rounds.
Matteau is a name synonymous with the New York Rangers. Stephane Matteau in 1994 scored arguably one of the most important goals in Ranger and NHL history.
His son Stefan hopes to make his own history as the draft approaches.This would be a great story if Stefan was drafted by the team his father played for.
It also helps that Stefan has been compared to Ryan Callahan, Milan Lucic and Alex Burrows. Much like those guys, Stefan plays very physically, making his presence known on the forecheck and by winning battles in close and along the boards.
However, Stefan goes overboard with the grit and aggression. This past season, Matteau was suspended numerous times for acting out against opposing players. This includes spearing a player on the Green Bay Gamblers.
Matteau is projected to be a mid-first-round pick. Some may see the lack of self-discipline and think it is a gamble to draft Matteau. With a coach like John Tortorella, he will be able to set Matteau straight. If Matteau is still available, they should draft him no questions asked.
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