During the playoffs, the Rangers' young defensemen looked impressive, both going forward and recovering, but were also exposed as overworked because the Rangers relied too heavily on just three of them (Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal).
The Rangers used their first and fourth-round picks to add future quality defensive depth by selecting the 6'2", 203-pound Brady Skjei with the 28th overall pick and the 6'2", 212-pound Calle Andersson with the 119th overall pick.
The Rangers clearly know the importance of having defensemen that can play both ways, and the scouting reports on both Skjei and Andersson are glowing about their soft hands, quick feet and desire to attack the net.
The Rangers used their second-round pick on center Cristoval "Boo" Nieves from Baldwinsville, New York. Nieves is another tall selection at 6'2" but slight at only 185 pounds. Eighteen-year-olds are allowed to be skinny, but he should have no problems bulking up at the University of Michigan, where he is about to start his collegiate career.
The Rangers have a good recent track record of drafting players attending big-time college programs and Nieves at Michigan and Skjei, who is a freshman at Minnesota, will hope to add to the success of McDonagh, Stepan and Kreider, according to Assistant GM Jeff Gorton.
The Rangers believe the 2013 NHL draft will have a deeper talent pool than the 2012 draft and traded their 2012 third-round pick to the Nashville Predators for Nashville's 2013 third-round pick. The Rangers then selected the big Swede Andersson with their pick in the fourth round and appeared done. But then, they struck another deal with Nashville, acquiring their fifth-round pick in exchange for the Rangers 2013 fifth-round pick.
So, with Nashville's fifth-round pick (the 142nd overall), the Rangers selected Thomas Spelling out of Denmark. Denmark is not known as a hockey hotbed, but Spelling impressed scouts at the World Juniors and will truly be tested this upcoming season during his rookie year in the Swedish Elitserien.
It typically takes players (especially late round selections) three to four years to make their NHL debut. How and where those players play their hockey during those years will largely determine if they will make the jump.
The Rangers have had success with their approach of drafting players on their way to premier college programs and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Skjei and Nieves are in good hands at their respective powerhouse programs and the Rangers other two picks will play in Sweden's top league this upcoming season.
Overall, this draft means that the Rangers front office is confident in their approach to developing talent and they should be because the Rangers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals led by a bunch of 20-somethings that they drafted.