I have to believe that most Ranger fans are pretty excited. I know I am. I'm excited not about this upcoming season, I'm excited for the seasons to come. Michael Del Zotto (above) is a great example of how the Rangers have began to rebuild through the draft. This is a cornerstone type player, similar to Marc Staal, who will patrol our blueline for years to come, and will be one of the largest reasons for our future success. Here is a grouping of some of the Rangers' most intriguing future stars.
You talk about a guy with all kinds of power forward ability. At 6'2, 210, he definitely has the size. This season in Hartford, he also scored 28 goals in near 80 games. That's nothing to laugh at. He's also known to be a voracious forechecker. He's another Ryan Callahan. Maybe it's me, but I'm of the belief that you FIND places in your lineup for players like that. I mean... Detroit always finds time for players like Draper, Maltby, McCarty, and more as of late, Helm, Holmstrom and Franzen; guys that can bang, and get the puck into the net.
Speaking of Tomas Holmstrom... this guy is the real deal. The current Hartford captain, Byers scored 51 points in 74 games. The guy has character, is big, and does something most Rangers haven't done since Adam Graves. He scores an overwhelming majority of his goals by standing directly in front of the net. If ONLY Dino Ciccarelli had this guy's size. Even if he was nothing more than a 4th line guy/power play specialist... he'd still have a solid impact.
Again... size. A monster of a Russian (6'3, 202), this kid is much more Ovechkin than he is Kovalev. In the OHL, this winger absolutely BLEW IT UP by scoring 40 goals in 60 games. On top of another 40 assists... that's 80 points in only 60 games! Now he struggled mightily his first season in the AHL, but so did Anisimov. Let this kid grow a little bit into his body and into the North American game, and I'll guarantee you two things: first he'll need another year in Hartford for sure, and second, he'll EASILY beat his total of 12 goals he put on paper last season.
Let's discuss this defensive stud. A captain of his college team? Yes. First round draft choice that the Rangers coveted? Yes. NHL ready size? Yes. Can log tons of minutes? Yes. Can he score? Yes (he averaged about a point every other game). Can he play with a chip on his shoulder? Yes (in fact, the only knock on him is every so often he gets too rough and takes a few too many penalties). On the Islanders... he'd be getting top pairing minutes this season. On the Rangers... buried in the depth chart... for now. There is no reason that Ryan McDonagh shouldn't be on the team this season, and being a solid all around defensive stud. With Staal (hopefully), McDonagh and Del Zotto all patrolling the blueline... we could be the envy of most other teams for years to come. Add in...
At 6"4, 200+ at such a young age... we are talking about a gigantic monster of a defender. Known as "The Undertaker" (thank you Pierre McGuire), this kid loves nothing more than to knock a guy on his backside. The only issue with him was his offensive talent, or lack thereof, but this past season he helped to answer those questions by scoring 24 points in 65 games. He's also known for having a cannon of a shot. You add this kind of brutal toughness to the potential softness that is Michael Del Zotto, and you have one hell of a combination.
With the moving of Brandon Dubinsky to LW, where are we at center in the future? THIS is where we're at. Derek Stepan is known for his amazing playmaking abilities. To give you an idea... in Wisconsin this past season, Stepan had 42 assists. In only 41 games! Not a bad average whatsoever. There's no doubt he'll spend the next season playing and working with Grachev. You might see him in the next 2 years.
Another guy who's on the center depth chart. Where Stepan might be the finesse... Werek's the hard worker. A guy who has lit up the OHL (64 points in each of the past 2 seasons), this is a Dale Weise kind of player... loves to bang around the board and work hard. Another player though who's a few years away.
A solid winger. Aside from Grachev, probably our best wing prospect. Kreider is known for his bread and butter, his outrageous speed. What he's not known for, is his ability to play rough. He can do a little bit of both. He's only 19 and unsigned, so you won't see him for a few years. However, the potential is oozing out of this kid. Don't sleep on Chris Kreider.
This is only the beginning. These are the prospects that most Ranger fans should know at this point by name recognition. However, here's a list of solid prospects by position:
Christian Thomas -speedy, small and hard working scorer.
Jesper Fasth -speed, talented, but more of a gritty guy.
Danny Hobbs -2 way forward... iffy as a real prospect.
Randy McNaught -monster type fighter...
Mats Zuccarello-Aasen -super tiny... but could be Gionta or St. Louis.
Ryan Bourque -hard working small kid... solid 3rd liner.
Max Campbell -offensive guy... but iffy consistency.
Roman Horak -potential offensive powerhouse... but all around game is iffy.
Brodie Dupont -big character guy... 4th line guy for sure.
Andrew Yogan -huge player... injured badly; either top line, or 4th line.
Devin DiDiomete -small, but heart and soul guy. Prust.
Carl Hagelin -Swedish kid developing in Michigan... could be top 6 guy.
Matt McCue -huge goon.
Kris Newbury -hard working checker. Offense? Nope.
Justin Soryal -has put up points in Junior... but will be a fighter.
Jason Wilson -see Justin Soryal.
Sam Klassen -solid all around guy. Upside in all areas.
Tomas Kundratek -offensive talent and solid... needs to be more physical.
Dan Maggio -stay at home guy, with physical presence.
Jyri Niemi -incredible shot and size... could be a surprise.
Mikhail Pashnin -small... but tons of heart, grit, and can score.
Pavel Valentenko -violent defender. Ranger fans will love him.
Michael Sauer -all around solid, yet unspectacular.
Nigel Williams -gigantic player. lots of potential... so far unfulfilled.