Ray Stubblebine/Associated Press
The Rangers first-round, ninth-overall selection in the 1986 NHL Draft was none other than first-ballot Hall of Famer Brian Leetch. The Corpus Christi, Texas, native was selected out of Avon Old Farms, an all-boys boarding school in Connecticut, where, in his final season, Leetch notched 44 goals and 84 points in 28 games.
In case you forgot, Leetch is a defenseman, and yes, those numbers are correct. If you think that’s ridiculous, Leetch scored 101 points in 28 games for Cheshire High School in Connecticut two years prior as a high school sophomore.
So, yeah, it was evident early on that Leetch was a special player.
In 1986-87, Leetch attended Boston College, where he recorded 47 points in 37 games and was named Hockey East’s Player and Rookie of the Year. Additionally, he was a national All-American.
After spending the first half of the 1987-88 season with the U.S. National Team ahead of the 1988 Olympics, Leetch joined the Rangers for 17 games. He registered 14 points, and because he appeared in so few games, he preserved his rookie status for the following season, which turned out to be a special one.
In 68 games Leetch scored 71 points while providing a sound and calming presence at the back. He turned a lot of heads and eventually won the Calder as league’s top rookie.
Leetch would play a total of 17 seasons with the Rangers, scoring 987 points in 1129 games. In 1991-92 he scored 102 points and became just the sixth defenseman in NHL history to break the 100-point barrier in a single season. That year he won the Norris Trophy as league’s top defenseman, and he would again win the award in 1997.
Elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, Leetch is the greatest Ranger of all time, and his No. 2 jersey will forever hang from the rafters of Madison Square Garden.