Given that fact, unless the Rangers trade into the one of the top two rounds, their selections will be largely limited.
Still, they do have five selections, three of which come in the third round. What can the Rangers do with those picks to make a lasting impact?
We'll explore the best and worst-case scenarios for the New York Rangers' 2013 draft.
The Rangers need to start thinking about life after Henrik Lundqvist. He is 31 years old, but is only signed through next season. While the Rangers will most likely do everything they can to sign him, they do need to be prepared.
Tristan Jarry might be a wise choice. He was a backup in the WHL, meaning he needs a lot more seasoning. However, in 27 games played, he had a 1.61 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
Al Jensen, of NHL's Central Scouting, was impressed with his poise, as he told NHL.com:
He's not a cookie-cutter goalie and doesn't just drop in the butterfly; he'll stand up and read the play and possesses good rebound control. He probably played one out of every four games this year, but each time I've seen him, he looks like a veteran. His smartness and confidence are what have helped him improve and develop his overall game.
Jarry is nowhere near ready. But his poise and intelligence bode well for a long career. In a few years, and with no pressure to produce in the NHL right away, he could turn into something special. A third-round pick would be a wise long-term investment.
Brett Pesce is a freshman defender from the University of Maine—and, in full disclosure, someone I played hockey against in high school, although I caught him at the beginning of his career. He is a 6'3", 175-pound blueliner with good speed. Although he needs to bulk up a bit, the 18-year-old is really poised in his own end. He had six points in 38 games with Maine. His coach was very impressed with his poise, which he spoke about with the New York Hockey Journal.
“That’s the impressive part,” UNH coach Dick Umile told New York Hockey Journal. “He came out early and has played like a veteran. Right from day one he’s competed well. He’s very good in his own end. He’s good with the puck. He’s been very, very consistent for us.”
With collegiate defensemen, like Torey Krug, making strong impacts in the NHL, taking a chance on the young, but talented Pesce might be a good idea. He won't be ready for a few years, but his skill is undeniable. Pairing him up with Brady Skjei, last year's first-round pick and a defender with the University of Minnesota, would give the Rangers a lot of nice, young, promising defenders.
Lucas Wallmark is a young center from Sweden. At only 17 years old, he has a lot of developing to do, and at only 175 pounds, he needs to bulk up to play a solid two-way game.
That said, Wallmark has made an impact playing in the Swedish junior leagues. He had 10 points in 16 games with HockeyAllsvenskan and scored five points in five games at the World Junior Championships.
He was also a driving force at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, where he made an impression on scouts. As Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News noted:
The Swedes took bronze at the Ivan Hlinka and it was Wallmark driving the bus offensively the whole tourney. The gifted pivot led the team in scoring with four goals and seven points in five games, including the game-tying goal in the final victory over the Czechs. No surprise then that vision is one of his strengths, not to mention special teams.
He projects as a solid, two-way center. He may be at least three years away, if not more. But he displays a good amount of hockey sense and can play in all situations. The Rangers need more players like that. Imagine, in a few years, a center group of Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, J.T. Miller and Wallmark. Not too shabby.
The Rangers would also be wise to pick up a big, hulking defenseman. While I mentioned that the Rangers should pick up an offensive defenseman, like Brett Pesce of the University of Maine, they should also get a nasty, crease-clearing guy. Mason Geersten, a 6'3", 200-pound defenseman with Vancouver of the WHL, might be a nice selection. According to Hockeyfights.com, he had 10 fights last season, and 18 fighting majors in his two-year career.
As his coach Don Hay told Kukla's Korner, "We think that he’s a real fine young man and that he’s a real physical defenceman, more of a stay-at-home guy."
The pick doesn't have to be Geersten, but it does have to be someone like him. A good defense has a mix of offensive-minded, two-way and stay-at-home defensemen. The Rangers could use more stay-at-home players.
If they don't get a crease-clearer, then opposing teams will continue to set up in front of the goaltender and screen shots. Lundqvist can stop pretty much everything he sees. A crease-clearer would help him see more. If they don't do that, they'll be in trouble.
A pick like Geersten is a necessity. And it would be an absolute worst-case scenario if they don't end up with someone like him.
The Rangers should think about drafting players who can fit on the third or fourth lines. The Boston Bruins' fourth line was better than the Rangers' third line—a big reason the Rangers had trouble competing with Boston.
Great teams have lots of depth, and right now, the Rangers don't have enough. Drafting someone like Jackson Houck, a physical forward with Vancouver of the WHL, might be wise. But if they don't draft depth guys, who can be found in the later rounds, it would be a big mistake.
Without the kind of depth that a team like the Bruins has, they will never be able to win a Stanley Cup. A fourth line of Kris Newbury, Michael Haley and Derek Dorsett is a good start. But they need players who can score a bit more. If they don't come out of this draft with players who can play a hard-charging, physical, energetic game, and can also score, it will be a mistake.
The Rangers would be wise to draft a creative player, someone in the mold of Derick Brassard. The Rangers have a lot of physical, hard-charging forwards—adding a creative forward who can distribute the puck well is a necessity. Brassard showed flashes of creativity in the playoffs, and adding another player like that would be smart.
Creativity would go a long way on the power play, as that can help to open up passing lanes. It would also make it easier for players like Rick Nash to get open. The more creative a team is, the easier it is to score.
If the Rangers don't draft a creative player, perhaps someone like Miro Aaltonen of Finland, then that would be a mistake.