New York Rangers: Power Ranking Their Last 15 First-Round NHL Draft Picks

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIINovember 29, 2012

New York Rangers: Power Ranking Their Last 15 First-Round NHL Draft Picks

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    The Rangers have had a mixed history of first-round draft picks. They've selected stars like Brian Leetch and complete busts like Jeff Brown.

    The last 15 first-round picks have seen similar results. They have drafted stars, but they've also completely whiffed on some of their selections.

    Read on to find out our power rankings of the last 15 first-round picks of the Rangers. 

Alexei Cherepanov

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    It's hard to judge Alexei Cherepanov's career, because it ended just as it started.

    Regarded as a highly talented prospect with star potential, Cherepanov was selected17th-overall in the 2007 NHL Draft.

    While playing in the KHL in 2008, tragedy struck as Cherepanov collapsed after a shift. After some delay, he was taken to the hospital where he eventually died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 

    While there are questions about his death and whether or not the KHL was adequately prepared, it is a still a tragedy.

    Cherepanov may have become a star; he may have become a bust. We'll never know. All we do know is that it is a life cut far too short. 

    At the time, the pick was deemed as a steal, because it was not expected he would be available that late. It's a shame that the Rangers never got to experience the fruits of the pick, but it is a much bigger shame that the hockey world lost such a precocious young talent. 

Hugh Jessiman

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    Hugh Jessiman might be one of the biggest busts in NHL history. It's not that he's the only player to not make it in the pros; certainly, there have been higher selected players with similarly awful careers.

    But it's who was selected after Jessiman that makes it particularly painful.

    Jessiman was taken 12th-overall in the 2003 NHL Draft. Here are some of the players taken after him:

    • Dustin Brown
    • Brent Seabrook
    • Zach Parise
    • Ryan Getzlaf
    • Brent Burns
    • Ryan Kesler
    • Corey Perry
    • Mike Richards
    • Loui Eriksson

    This was a historic draft, filled with an embarrassment of riches in talent. The Rangers swung and missed.

    Jessiman has played two NHL games in his career, both with the Florida Panthers. He has no points and five penalty minutes. 

    While it's impossible to predict what players will do when they are selected, the fact that the Rangers missed so badly points to their ineptitude in the early part of the century.

    The Rangers have made up for that selection with other picks, but imagine where they would have been if they selected one of the players listed above?

Pavel Brendl

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    Pavel Brendl was selected fourth-overall in the 1999 NHL Draft. He never played for the Rangers.

    In fact, he's put up only 22 points in 78 career games with a number of teams.

    Brendl currently plays in the Swiss league. While he has had success in Europe, he is certainly not what the Rangers envisioned when they drafted him so high.

    Brendl scored 172 goals in three seasons in junior hockey. Quite impressive and it makes it reasonable for the Rangers to select him so high.

    For whatever reason, he hasn't been able to produce at the NHL level. This is, obviously, one of the worst picks in Rangers' history. Selecting someone so high, and then not having him play for you is quite a blow. Taking some of the sting off is that he never produced in the NHL.

    Still, the 1999 draft for the Rangers was beyond disastrous. With two picks in the top-10, they selected Brendl and Jamie Lundmark. Both have been unmitigated train wrecks. One of the other teams to have two picks in the top-10 was the Vancouver Canucks. They selected Daniel and Henrik Sedin. 

Bobby Sanguinetti

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    Bobby Sanguinetti was taken 21st-overall in the 2006 NHL Draft.

    He had a terrific junior career, putting up a tremendous amount of points from the blue line. He won awards in the AHL for having the hardest shot and being the fastest skater.

    Yet, he has not been able to put it together at the NHL level. He played five games for the Rangers before being shipped off to Carolina, where he has not yet played in a pro game. 

    While it seems like Sanguinetti has all the requisite skills to make it in the pros, for whatever reason, he has not.

    It's a pretty bad pick, considering that Claude Giroux was taken directly after him.

Jamie Lundmark

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    Jamie Lundmark was drafted ninth-overall in 1999, the second of two top-10 picks that year for the Rangers. 

    Despite a storied junior career, as well as promising numbers in the AHL, Lundmark was never able to make his mark in the NHL. 

    Lundmark scored 11 goals in parts of three seasons with the Rangers. He has bounced around the league ever since, with his most impressive season coming in Calgary, where he scored eight goals and had 16 points in just 27 games in 2008-09.

    Lundmark is currently playing in the KHL. By all accounts, he's been a bust. He's a player who can score at the lower levels, but not in the big-time.

    While he came into the league with big expectations, by all measures, Lundmark has not hit them. Rangers fans can take solace in the fact that besides the Sedins, the players picked in the first round that year have not been all that special. 

Al Montoya

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    Al Montoya was taken sixth-overall in the 2004 draft to be the long-term solution in net. That never happened.

    He was quickly passed by Henrik Lundqvist on the organizational depth chart, before being traded to Phoenix.

    Last season with the Islanders, Montoya started 31 games last season and had a 3.10 goals against average. He's now with the Winnipeg Jets

    Montoya is not a terrible goalie, but certainly not one worthy of the sixth overall pick. While it's hard to compete with Henrik Lundqvist, one of the game's best goalies, one would think that the Rangers would have gotten more out of Montoya.

    The 2004 first round was not a particularly rich one, with Mike Green standing out as the best player. Still, Montoya has been a pretty big disappointment. 

Dan Blackburn

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    Dan Blackburn could've been a great player, if not for injuries. Taken 10th-overall in the 2001 draft, Blackburn showed promise in net before having a career-ending nerve injury.

    In 2002, he was selected as the goalie for the NHL All-Rookie team, with a 3.28 goals against average.

    Blackburn's career has a big "what-if" attached to it. It's hard to fault the Rangers for how it turned out.

    The pick, in hindsight, was solid as Blackburn showed great potential. But injuries are tough to predict and Blackburn had a particularly nasty one. 

    While the Rangers eventually solved their goaltending issues with Henrik Lundqvist, a healthy Blackburn could've made Lundqvist irrelevant. Imagine the Rangers with Blackburn, not Lundqvist, at the helm. 

Brady Skjei

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    Skjei is the lastest Ranger first round pick, taken 28th-overall in June. He is currently a freshman at University of Minnesota.

    Skjei is thought of as a solid defense prospect, with good speed. At 18, he is still very raw. He's sound in his own zone, but is a work in progress on offense.

    It's hard to know if Skjei will become a contributor in the NHL, but he certainly has the skill set to do so. 

Dylan McIlrath

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    Dylan McIlrath was taken 10th- overall in the 2010 NHL draft. While it is too soon to determine if he will be a success, his career so far has been hindered by injuries.

    Known for his imposing stature and fighting ability, McIlrath is currently out with a knee injury and has yet to play this season.

    McIlrath is a physical player in the Jeff Beukeboom mold, who will not wow you on the offensive end, but will lay the boom to forwards coming down the boards. 

    McIlrath is a work in progress and is not expected to play in the NHL until at least next season, if not later. 

Lauri Korpikoski

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    The Rangers gave up on Korpikoski too early.

    Taken 19th-overall in 2004, Korpikoski has turned into a pretty good player—just not with the Rangers. 

    In one full season with the Rangers, Korpikoski put up 14 points and showed promise as an excellent penalty killer and two-way forward.

    But the Rangers thought they'd seen enough and shipped him to Phoenix for Enver Lisin. In three seasons in Phoenix, Korpikoski has put up 41 goals and continued his strong defensive player.

    Lisin, meanwhile, scored six goals in one season in New York before turning to the KHL. 

    The Rangers were wise in selecting Korpikoski; they were just dumb in letting him go. 

Manny Malhotra

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    Manny Malhotra has turned into a serviceable player—albeit not with the Rangers.

    The Rangers selected Malhotra seventh-overall in the 1998 NHL draft, and deemed him untouchable. 

    However, Malhotra never found his footing in New York and only scored 19 goals in parts of three seasons. He was eventually traded during the 2001-02 season to the Dallas Stars.

    It wasn't until Malhotra reached the Blue Jackets in 2003-04 that he began to flourish. He scored 12 goals that season in only 56 games.

    Now with Vancouver, Malhotra has established himself as a terrific third-line player, with great penalty killing skills and excellent defensive instincts.  

    An eye injury has limited his effectiveness in recent years. However, Malhotra has become a good player.

    But it never worked out with the Rangers and we're left to wonder if he would've filled his potential if he stayed in New York. 

    It turned out to be a good pick; just not for the Blueshirts. 

J.T. Miller

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    J.T. Miller was the 15th-overall selection in the 2011 draft and is turning into one of the Rangers top prospects.

    So far in the AHL this season, Miller has put up seven goals in 17 games, his first pro season. Not bad for a 19-year-old. He also had a terrific debut season in junior hockey last year.

    While Miller still has some time to go in his development, he is coming along nicely. Look for him to be in Blue next year. 

Michael Del Zotto

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    Michael Del Zotto has had his share of ups and downs since joining the Rangers as a first round pick in 2008.

    His rookie season was spectacular, as he scored nine goals and added 28 assists and was named to the All-Rookie team. He showed flashes of greatness and made some spectacular end-to-end passes.

    His sophomore campaign was certainly disappointing. He had 11 points in 47 games before being sent down to the minors.

    Last year was better, as he scored 10 goals and added 31 assists.

    Del Zotto will never be mistaken for a top defensive defenseman, but he has improved in this aspect. He's gifted offensively, with a penchant for beautiful passes and end-to-end rushes.

    Del Zotto just turned 22, so he has plenty of time to improve. Currently, he's a restricted free agent. Del Zotto has a bright future ahead of him, and his performance thus far has solidified him as one of the better Rangers picks in the last few years.  

Chris Kreider

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    Chris Kreider has yet to play in a regular season NHL game, but he has certainly made his mark.

    He made his debut in round one of the 2012 playoffs. He went on to score five goals and had two assists in 18 playoff games, setting the record for most postseason goals prior to playing in a regular season game. He's also the first player in history to have his first two goals be playoff game-winners

    Kreider is incredibly explosive, with speed to burn, possesses a wicked slap shot and has a knack for the dramatic. 

    Playing with the Connecticut Whale during the lockout, Kreider has four goals and six assists in 16 games.

    Whenever the NHL resumes, Kreider is expected to play a huge role for the Rangers. He has 40-goal potential. At only 21, the sky is the limit for Kreider and he may be the next hockey superstar. 

Marc Staal

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    Marc Staal was the 12th-overall selection in the 2005 draft and has become the best first round pick for the Rangers since perhaps Brian Leetch.

    Staal had an outstanding junior career before jumping to the Rangers in 2007. He started off as strictly a defensive defenseman, although he has developed an offensive component to his game.

    Staal is the most dependable defenseman the Rangers have. He is a shut-down player who can block shots and kill penalties with ease. He's a great skater who makes smart passes and has a decent shot.

    He is a rock for the Rangers and rarely makes mistakes. He can play in every situation and deliver. He is one of the top defenseman in the league.

    Staal has helped the Rangers have one of the best defenses in hockey, and makes Henrik Lundqvist's job easier.

    Staal was a home-run of a pick, the perfect combination of need and talent. Without Staal, it's hard to imagine the Rangers being as successful as they have been in recent years.