One of those teams is the New York Rangers, who had four picks this weekend. In the past, the Rangers have drafted well. Some past draftees include Henrik Lundqvist in 2000 (205th overall), captain Ryan Callahan in 2004 (127th overall), Marc Staal in 2005 (12th overall), Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan in 2008 (20th and 51st overall, respectively) and, recently, Chris Kreider in 2009 (19th overall). All of those players currently are on the New York Rangers roster.
Now, four new players will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the names above. Here are the post-draft grades for each of the newest New York Rangers.
Thanks to thehockeywriters.com for all prospect info and scouting reports.
At 28th overall, the New York Rangers selected Brady Skjei, a 6’2” 203 pound defenseman.
Skjei (pronounced Shay) has size to play in the NHL right now, but he will play at the University of Minnesota for the 2012-13 season.
According to Bill Placzek of draftsite.com, “[w]hen moving up ice, he creates scoring chances as a terrific transition player. Creative with the puck when he leads in. Very tricky on the offensive. Reads and reacts well, and has a strong defensive game. Effortless skating backward. Shows grit and willingness to punish the opposition.”
Skjei should be successful in the college ranks. He has plenty of time to be successful considering the Rangers are very deep at the defenseman position.
Personally, I thought Stefan Matteau should have been drafted at this spot; however, Skjei is still a great pick. With development, he will become a great NHL defenseman.
At 59th overall, the New York Rangers selected Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, a 6'2", 176-pound center and/or left winger.
Nieves played high school hockey at Kent High School and will be playing college hockey with the University of Michigan.
Bill Placzek says of Nieves:
"[H]as pro-style size, but hasn't played against stiffer competition. He still has room to fill out further. Teams eye his smooth, quick stride that lets him move well in all directions with unusual agility for a bigger player. He moves laterally and gets scoring opportunities, and will not hesitate to drive to the net. Has top-end gears but he must develop the hands of a scorer, and expectations are that he will be more physical. An excellent passer, who quickly moves to open ice after passing the puck. Has seen some time at center and can generate offense with an opportune pass when defenders converge. Still not showing dominance at the level he is playing, so right now he is viewed as a long-term project with significant upside. Projects as a big winger."
Nieves could be a long-term project. The thing that worries me is his ability to bounce back from hard hits. He seems to lack mental toughness that is needed in the NHL.
However, he has the agility that most players his size don't have. He has tremendous upside and can play two positions, which makes him very versatile.
At 119th overall, the New York Rangers selected Calle Andersson, a 6'2", 212-pound defenseman. Calle’s father, Peter, was a fourth-round selection (73rd overall) in 1983 by the Rangers.
Andersson is another solid two-way defenseman. Much like Skjei, he has a great offensive game and is not afraid to punish the opponent on defense. In the future, he will lead the point on the power play, as he has a nice shot and stick skills to take advantage of any slide-downs to the slot.
Andersson played in Sweden and will probably play another year there against competition of all ages, not just his own.
While he has the size and the two-way ability to be a great blue-liner for the Rangers, he adds to the deepest position the Rangers currently have at the prospect ranks. I like the player but do not like the pick, as there are other positions that the Rangers could have selected at this position.
Grade: A (player) C+ (pick)
At 142nd overall, the New York Rangers selected Thomas Spelling, a 6’1”, 165-pound right winger.
Bill Placzek states that Spelling is the “[t]op-rated Danish prospect who is tall and lean and still playing for his hometown team. He has good overall skills and a willingness to improve. Long term developmental pick who will need to come across the pond to play the North American style.”
It will be some time before we see Spelling in the NHL. There is also the possibility that we never see him at all. However, if he is as willing to learn as scouts say he is, Spelling could be a great pick that snuck under the radar. But, for now…
The Rangers drafted two defensemen and two forwards. While I don’t expect to see any of these guys playing for the Rangers this upcoming season, each of them has upside and the possibility to play in the NHL in the future.
Even though the draft is over, there are still many questions that the Rangers will need to answer this offseason.
One question mark is, do the Rangers have a shot of landing Columbus Blue Jackets star Rick Nash? Some thought that the Rangers, come draft day, would have traded this year’s first-round pick and a mix of players ranging from Derek Stepan to Tim Erixon. With the draft concluded, are the Rangers still the favorite to add Nash?
Also, will the Rangers sign key players like Brandon Prust and Michael Del Zotto before both become free agents?
Time will only tell, as the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is the end of chapter one in a long book that is called the NHL offseason.