In just seven weeks, 30 NHL GMs and their staffs will hit the draft floor at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. When the Rangers have their turn, it is set to be their highest pick since 2004, when they used the No. 6 overall pick on goalie, and now Phoenix Coyotes property, Al Montoya. In 2001, they also used the No. 10 overall pick on another goalie, the injury riddled, and currently out of pro hockey, Dan Blackburn.
So could the Rangers go the same route this time and select goalie Jack Campbell? With Henrik Lundqvist sitting on the throne in New York, Auld as a solid backup for the time being, and Chad Johnson developing in the minors, it could be a step backwards.
The pipeline on defense is getting clogged. The large contracts of Wade Redden, and Michal Rozsival will be in our organization for the time being. Young phenom Marc Staal isn't going anywhere any time soon. Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto both cracked the Rangers lineup this season, with Bobby Sanguinetti getting a callup, and Ryan McDonagh developing on the Wisconsin Badgers of the NCAA.
His teammate, and one of three Ranger prospect WJC Gold Medalists, Derek Stepan, leads the list of centers. Another gold medalist, Ryan Borque is not far behind him playing in the QMJHL for the Quebec Remparts. And we can't forget about Evgeny Grachev, who showed lots of promise in the OHL before struggling in his first season as a pro in the AHL.
At LW, another gold medalist for USA, Chris Kreider was known as maybe the fastest player taken in the 2009 Entry Draft. Some other decent prospects at LW include Michigan Wolverine, Carl Hagelin, as well as the gritty Dane Byers, who lost a year of development to injury, but continues to learn in the AHL with the Hartford Wolfpack.
It is at RW that the Rangers lack true depth. their top RW prospect, Dale Weise, although promising, does not appear to be more than a bottom-six, energy player, more than the Rangers brass may have expected from the 2008 fourth rounder who had been passed over in two previous drafts.
Although at RW we are lacking, our future still appears to be bright, with lots of high quality youth developing. But it is clear, the Rangers must address the lack of depth at this year's draft.
But who will be available? The right wingers that are being coveted seem to be Krill Kabanov, the highly skilled Russian, and Brett Connolly, a standout in the WHL. Could Kabanov slip the same way the late Rangers 2007 first round pick Alexei Cherepanov did? Possibly, but he might just be to talented for teams that just miss out on Hall or Seguin to pass up on. Connolly as well, might not just be around for us to snag.
So, when the No. 10 overall pick comes up, and Kabanov and Connolly are off celebrating the selections with family, what do the New York Rangers do?
Simple—trade the pick.
While there is talent to be had, it is the clear consensus that this years draft is a step below some recent drafts. However, there are still teams out there who woud love to acquire an asset like a top-10 pick. What better way for the Rangers to address their lack of depth at RW, then to acquire an already proven one?
It was clear throughout the year, that the Rangers needed more offense. Just like with Jagr, the Rangers depended on Gaborik to lead the offense, and when he couldn't, it wasn't clear who would step up behind him.
The Rangers have used a pick in the first round every year since 2002, perhaps it wouldn't be too painful to lose one this year. If Sather intends on keeping his job, or possibly setting up Mark Messier for success, there is no better way then to move this pick and address the teams current needs.
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