Glen Sather and Gordie Clark
Despite not having a first-round pick, the New York Rangers selected five players in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft on Sunday, June 30.
With three third-round selections, the Rangers loaded up on skilled wingers, but with their final two selections the organization looked to bolster their back end, adding a defenseman and a goaltender in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively.
As uneventful as the draft may have been for fans—seeing as the Rangers didn't select a player until the third round—the organization added some quality assets. With a clear lack of talented forwards, it was a no brainer for Glen Sather, Gordie Clark and the rest of the Rangers’ front office to select youngsters with upside in the offensive zone.
Goaltending was another area the team needed to add to, and although they waited until the sixth round to nab a keeper, it’s a start.
A few days removed from the draft, we’ll take a look at the five prospects the Rangers added over the weekend. Read on for a preliminary scouting report with brief analysis of the potential future Blueshirts.
The son of former NHL player and executive Steve Tambellini, Adam Tambellini was the first selection the Rangers made at the draft. At 6'2'', the 18-year-old has some filling out to do, as he weighs only 158 pounds.
But despite his lanky frame, Tambellini is believed to be one of the draft’s potential hidden gems. He was able to use his height to his advantage in the BCHL with the Vernon Vipers and Surrey Eagles over the past two seasons, where he performed at well over a point-per-game pace. After being traded to Surrey midseason, Tambellini managed to rack up 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points in his final 16 games of the regular season. He then added 10 goals and eight assists in 17 playoff games.
What the Rangers are getting with Tambellini is a player who can skate and knows how to use his frame—even if it hasn't filled out yet—to create opportunities. He’s got a natural goal-scoring instinct and isn't afraid to head to the net.
Tambellini is committed to the University of North Dakota next season, and the Rangers’ director of player personnel, Gordie Clark, believes he may need the entire four years of college eligibility before he’s ready to go pro. But he likes the pick and he obviously believes Tambellini has the upside and the potential to be a successful NHLer.
Scouts believed that Russian forward Pavel Buchnevich had the talent to be a first-round selection in this year's draft, but the 18-year-old’s KHL contract, ineptitude in the defensive zone and supposed poor attitude allowed him to fall into the Rangers’ lap in the third round.
I realize I may have painted a grim picture of the youngster there, but that’s the rap Buchnevich has. That being said, there’s a reason he was selected by New York, and it’s because of his immense skill set.
Following the selection, Gordie Clark said, according to Andrew Gross of The Record, that Buchnevich reminded him of the team’s deceased former first-round pick Alexei Cherepanov in regards to the players’ similar style of play. The sense I get is that Cherepanov may have been more skilled than Buchnevich, but not too much more.
Nearly all of his offensive abilities are top notch. He’s been touted as a speedy skater with excellent vision and passing ability. Buchnevich also possesses slick puck skills and the ambition to use them in game situations.
He’s spent most of the past two seasons with the KHL’s Cherepovets Severstal’s MHL club. In 2011-12, he registered 44 points in 45 games for the club. In 2012-13, he played in 24 games for the same club and managed 23 points. Buchnevich also spent 12 games in the KHL with the pro club in 2012-13, although he only scored once and added just one helper.
To this point, Buchnevich’s best performance came at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship, where he dazzled with 11 points in seven games for his native Russia. This video covers most of his notable highlights from that tournament, as well as some additional clips from his time in the MHL.
Buchnevich has the tools to become an electrifying player in the NHL, but he’s got to work on his attitude and ability to play in all three zones. He could also benefit from bulking up a bit, but even if he does all that, there’s still a chance he remains in Russia to continue his pro career. At this time, he still has two years remaining on his KHL deal.
With their final pick of the third round, the Rangers added yet another speedy, skilled winger. Anthony Duclair may not be big—5'11'', 177 pounds—but what he lacks in size he makes up for with raw offensive talent.
Duclair possesses blinding speed, which he has used to his advantage in the QMJHL playing for the Quebec Remparts under the guidance of Patrick Roy. In 2011-12, Duclair went 31-35-66 in 63 games and added eight points in 11 playoffs games. The 17-year-old’s numbers tailed off in 2012-13, as he went 20-30-50 in 55 games, though he replicated the previous season’s playoff numbers.
Scouts have attributed his 2012-13 struggles to an early-season ankle injury and the absence of Mikhail Grigorenko on his line. The centerman went pro this past season with the Buffalo Sabres.
But, like the Rangers first two selections, Duclair’s offensive potential is what caught the organization’s eye. As previously mentioned, Duclair has sensational speed, but he’s got a great set of hands to go with that speed, too. He’s incredibly dangerous out wide, but his accurate shot also makes him a threat in the slot as well.
The worry with Duclair is whether or not his effectiveness will transfer to the NHL game. Yes, he’s quick and he can beat guys to the outside in juniors, but he’s not very big and can be somewhat inconsistent. Could he be as dangerous playing in the much more aggressive NHL?
Regardless, he’ll have to bulk up, work on his consistency and fill out his game, as he isn't the most complete, three-zone player.
In the fourth round, the Rangers went for defense. They chose Ryan Graves: a prototypical stay-at-home defenseman whose got size and isn't afraid to mix it up.
Just like the organization’s other selections in 2013, Graves is still raw. He’s got the tools to be a successful NHL shutdown defenseman, but he’s got a long road ahead of him.
Graves has great size. The 18-year-old stands 6'4'' and weighs 220 pounds. This past season, playing for the Prince Edward Island Rocket of the QMJHL, Graves showed he could use his size not only for defending, but for fighting. In 68 games, he registered 90 penalty minutes. He was not shy to drop the gloves with opponents and that was one of the things that captivated the Rangers.
Offense, though, is not one of Graves’ strong points. In 2011-12, he registered just nine points in 62 games, and in 2012-13 he put up 16 in 68. But the Rangers didn't draft Graves for his offense. They've proven that they’re willing to draft solid defensive defenseman, like Marc Staal and Dylan McIlrath. Graves seemed to be more of that mold, but it’s going to take some time. As has been the case with McIlrath, the Rangers won’t rush Graves, and they don’t need to. Their senior roster is deep on defense, anyway.
In truth, there isn't much known about about Mackenzie Skapski, a goaltender the Rangers selected in the sixth round. It’s clear the Rangers need depth at the goaltending position, but waiting until the sixth round doesn't make a ton of sense.
Nevertheless, Skapski was their man. He’s 19 years old and has spent the past three seasons playing for the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. Although he played in only 23 total games in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, Skapski played a whole lot in 2012-13. In 65 games, he posted a 34-25-1 record, very impressive for a goaltender playing on a team that went 35-35-2.
His best stretch came late in 2012, when Skapski went 11-2-1 in 14 games. He kept his team in it for most of the season, and it’s probably that, and his size—6'3'',185 pounds—that intrigued the Rangers.
Although his personal numbers—2.78 goals-against average, .910 save percentage— weren't overly impressive, Skapski seems to have some upside. Again, he is a sixth-round pick, so the Rangers won’t be looking for Skapski to join the big club anytime soon. But with some time and work he could be a good keeper. It’s hard to ever really know with goalies.