NY Rangers: Chris Kreider and 4 More Key Players Drafted in the Gordie Clark Era

Ben Lippel@thewritebenContributor IIIJune 22, 2012

NY Rangers: Chris Kreider and 4 More Key Players Drafted in the Gordie Clark Era

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    What do rock legend David Bowie and New York Rangers director of player personnel Gordie Clark have in common?

    They both believe in ch, ch, ch, changes.

    Since Clark took over the job in 2005, the Rangers have undergone massive changes in their approach to acquiring and developing talent. What was once a lineup filled with high-priced veterans that flocked to Madison Square Garden as if it were a luxury retirement home, is now built primarily through the draft. Youth is being served.

    And it's working out just fine, with the boys from Broadway winning 51 regular-season games this past season—plus 10 more in the playoffs.

    Just how young and talented is this Rangers team that came within six victories of a Stanley Cup? Here's a telling statistic from a recent article by Dave Lozo of nhl.com:

    Of the 16 teams in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers are the second-youngest team at an average age of 26.0 years. It's one thing to have a roster filled with players who have a better-than-average of chance of being carded at a liquor store or R-rated movie; it's another to have those players making immediate contributions to a winning team.

    So its been established that the New York Rangers are one of the up-and-coming teams in the NHL, with more talent on the way. But who are the top 5 players they've taken since 2005, thanks to Clark and his tireless team of scouts?

    On the eve of the 2012 NHL draft, let's take a look. 

    Draft data and player statistics courtesy of hockeydb.com and nhl.com. Videos courtesy of youtube.com

The Amazing Kreider-Man

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    Chris Kreider 

    2009

    First Round - 19th overall

    Boston College

    No one knew what to expect of rookie Chris Kreider when he stepped off the Boston College campus and into the Rangers lineup during the Stanley Cup playoffs. All this 21-year-old phenom did was score five goals in 18 games, while showcasing his world-class speed and wicked shot. 

    Just think how much better he'll be when John Tortorella is able to coach him for an entire season. Sky's the limit for this kid.

A Step in the Right Direction

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    Derek Stepan

    2008

    Second Round - 51st overall

    University of Wisconsin

    After completing his second season with the Rangers, Derek Stepan has become a dependable second-line center, with quick hands and a nose for being in the right place at the right time. Plus, 96 points in his first two seasons in the league shows a strong offensive upside for the 22-year-old pivot.

MDZ Is AOK

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    Michael Del Zotto

    2008

    First Round - 20th overall

    Oshawa Generals

    OHL

    After making the NHL All-Rookie Team in 2010, Michael Del Zotto experienced the dreaded sophomore slump in 2011, which included a demotion to the AHL.

    To his credit however, Del Zotto bounced back with a super campaign in 2012. The 21-year-old backliner had 10 goals and 31 assists in 77 games, along with a plus-20 rating. He also showed a willingness to play a hard-nosed game in the corners and along the walls that he hadn't shown in his first two years in the NHL.

A Swede with Speed and Skill

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    Carl Hagelin

    2007

    Sixth Round - 168th overall

    University of Michigan

    At times this past season, it seemed as though Carl Hagelin, who wears  No. 62, was actually skating 62 miles per hour. And he used his wheels to capture the fastest skater competition at the 2012 All-Star Game in Ottawa.

    Hagelin, who played four seasons for Red Berenson at the University of Michigan, is also fantastic on the forecheck, consistently beating opponents to pucks in the corners and along the walls. The 23-year-old registered 14 goals and 24 helpers in 64 games with the Rangers this past season.

A Player Who Continues to Make His Marc

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    Marc Staal

    2005 

    First Round - 12th overall

    Sudbury Wolves

    OHL

    A mainstay on the Blueshirts' back line since 2007 and an All-Star in 2011, Marc Staal missed the first 36 games of this past season due to post-concussion syndrome.

    The 25-year-old Staal returned for the Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers and had an extremely slow start to his campaign. However, as the season progressed, so did his game—and No. 18 was a tower of strength in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

    Staal scored a dramatic overtime power-play goal in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Washington Capitals, completing an unbelievable comeback in which the Rangers tied the game in the final seconds of regulation time.

The Draft Master Was Once Drafted Himself

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    Did you know that Gordie Clark was selected by the Boston Bruins in Round 7 (No. 112 overall), in the 1972 NHL Amateur draft?

    Check out the video from his days at the University of New Hampshire. Lots of open ice here in a three-on-three situation. Looks like he and his line mates—one of them former Calgary Flame and Quebec Nordique Jamie Hislop—never left the ice. 

    Here's a complete breakdown of his playing career, courtesy of hockeydb.com

    Here's an interview he just did with Andrew Gross' Ranger Rants blog for northjersey.com.