New York Rangers' Most Underrated Prospect at Each Position

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 21, 2014

New York Rangers' Most Underrated Prospect at Each Position

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    Andreas Hillergren/Associated Press

    The New York Rangers do not have the deepest of prospect pools.

    After all, their best prospect, Chris Kreider, is now a favorite for the Calder Trophy.  Outside of a few players with real pro potential—think Brady Skjei, Danny Kristo, J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg, Dylan McIlrath and Conor Allen—the cupboard is bare.

    That said, there are a few underrated prospects that might defy the odds to stick as NHL regulars.

    Who are the most underrated prospects at each position for the Rangers?

    Read on to find out. 

Left Wing: Pavel Buchnevich

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    Pavel Buchnevich is coming off a stellar World Junior Championship.

    The 18-year-old scored two goals and notched five assists in seven games.

    It's not out of character for Buchnevich, who has 13 points in 33 games with Cherepovets of the KHL.

    Known as a speedy sniper, Buchnevich has first-round talent, but fell to the third round in the 2013 draft over questions regarding his effort level and his desire to stay in Russia. 

    It's impossible to know whether Buchnevich will stay in Russia or not. If he ever comes over, the Rangers could have a dynamite scorer in the mold of Alexander Semin. If not, then nothing is lost.

    His skill set is intriguing, and he projects as a high-octane offensive threat. It remains to be seen whether the Rangers will ever be able to enjoy that potential. 

Center: Cristoval "Boo" Nieves

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Cristoval "Boo" Nieves is a long way from the NHL, but his skill set is intriguing.

    The 19-year-old, who was a second-round pick in 2012, is a sophomore at the University of Michigan. 

    After a stellar freshman season where he recorded 29 points in 40 games, Nieves has taken a step back this year, with just eight points in 17 games.

    Still, the youngster is a speedy, creative pivot who could probably play wing as well. At 6'3", he has the body to dig in the trenches.

    Because of the ups-and-downs of his college career, it's likely that Nieves will finish his time at Michigan. After that, he'll probably spend a year or two in the AHL. With his combination of size, speed and playmaking ability, it would not be a surprise to see him in the top-nine. 

Right Wing: Jesper Fast

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    After making the team out of camp and playing eight games to start the season, Jesper Fast was sent down to the minors and not much has been heard from him since.

    In 15 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack, Fast has scored three goals to go along with five assists. He did miss some time due to injury.

    Fast is known for his speed and is similar in some ways to Carl Hagelin. He's not a goal scorer like fellow right wing prospect Danny Kristo is nor does he have the overall game of J.T. Miller, but Fast will likely settle in on the third or fourth line to kill penalties and create some energy.

    Brian Boyle, who started the season centering Fast, praised the 22-year-old, telling Steve Zipay of Newsday:

    He's a really mature kid. He's impressed pretty much everybody, how well he's come in and learned so much, soaked up a lot of things. I'm excited to play with him. He keeps getting better. He could be a weapon for us. We'll see where it goes.

    I'm surprised Fast hasn't gotten a second chance with the Rangers, although there isn't really a spot for him right now. He plays the type of uptempo game that would excel with the big club.

    Either way, Fast has a good chance to lock up a roster spot next season. 

Defense: Troy Donnay

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    Everybody knows about Brady Skjei, Dylan McIlrath and Conor Allen.

    You may not know about Troy Donnay. 

    Donnay is a hulking, 6'7" defenseman currently playing for the Erie Otters of the OHL. 

    He plays a physical game and is more than willing to drop the gloves, but what's most impressive is his improvement in his own zone.

    Last year, Donnay was a disastrous minus-39. The year before wasn't much better as he was minus-31.

    This year, however, he's really turned things around. He's an impressive plus-25 playing on a good Otters team.

    Donnay will not make the NHL for some time. He needs to work on his skating and positioning. At 185 pounds, he could also benefit from bulking up.

    Someone with his size and his toughness, however, is pretty rare, so you can expect the Rangers to do everything they can to develop him. 

Goalie: Mackenzie Skapski

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    Let's be honest here: the Rangers are not deep at goaltender.

    In fact, now that Cam Talbot is entrenched as the Rangers' backup, there is currently no goaltender in the system that is NHL-worthy.

    The best of the sorry lot is Mackenzie Skapski, who is currently plying his trade with the Kootenay Ice of the WHL.

    The sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft has a 14-13-3 record, with a 2.94 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

    The Rangers are quite lucky. They have Henrik Lundqvist locked up until through 2021 and Cam Talbot has proven to be a fine backup. They don't need goaltending.

    If anyone is to make the pros out of the goaltenders in the system, it would probably by Skapski, who is young enough to improve. Last year, he did post an impressive 34 wins.

    But don't expect greatness here. The Rangers know who their goalies will be for a long time, and they are both currently in the NHL.