So you want to talk about the New York Rangers and how they
will approach the 2014 NHL Entry Draft on Friday and Saturday? This might be
the most challenging of the drafts run by Gordie Clark since he took over the
responsibilities when former Asst. GM Don Maloney left to become the Coyotes
Friday should be easy since the Rangers won’t have a pick in
the first round so the question should be will the Rangers show up to sit
through a round they don’t have a pick in? I think they will attend if for no
other reason to work on any possible trades that the Rangers might make during
The Rangers are holding picks in the 2nd (59th),
3rd (89th), 4th (119), and 5th (122nd)
rounds so how they use them should be interesting to say the least. To be
honest I really don’t like mock drafts because there are so many possibilities
to consider. What I do like about this draft is the Rangers could come away
with the eventual replacement for Henrik Lundqvist as the goalie pool offers
several good possibilities.
Now a word about the various drafting services as really
when it comes to scouting, it is your own perception of the prospect that gets
ranked. Many are around to get you to open your wallet but remember if these
guys were so smart they would be working for an NHL team.
One service will rank a kid 43 while another ranks him 67th
and a 3rd thinks he is a first rounder ranking him 20th. The number one thing
these services don’t do is account for the team’s needs and the system that the
Rangers play. Even in the mock drafts it is a person’s personal choice not
something that the scouting staff has IDed as a team need.
This draft isn’t strong or really deep but the Rangers do
have some needs they need to at least attempt to address with these picks. In
order I would have to say a scoring power forward, a good two-way center and of
course a goalie or two.
So if I am drafting at 59 then I am looking for who has
slipped through the cracks like Anthony Duclair did when the Rangers grabbed
him in the 3rd round. I am looking for a power forward someone who
is going to attack the net and doesn’t mind taking the beating in the
crease. For that I am thinking maybe
Keegan Iverson of the Portland Winterhawks, Justin Kirkland of Kelowna or maybe
Richard Nejezchleb of Brandon.
Yes all 3 are from the WHL but each in their own way are
solid picks if you are looking for a power forward. Iverson from the
Winterhawks was playing against the other team’s forwards every night and he
more than held his own. Rugged kid who is 6’ 216 at just 18 and still growing.
Iverson is hard to move out of the slot area when he sets up shop. Is coming
off a 22 goal season and expect him to reach 30-35 next season.
Justin Kirkland is the textbook case of a project player but
this one is worth gambling on as he is 6’3 190 with good skating skills and for
a young player displays a maturity way beyond his years as well as a very high
hockey IQ. He needs to grow into his body but something I liked about him was
his willingness to play physical despite his skinny frame. Pretty sure he is
gone before the Rangers pick as the NHL guys know him well.
Nejexchleb is wishful thinking as he will go fast in the
second but if he doesn’t this import from the Czech Republic is 6’2 200 who had
32 goals in his 2nd season with Brandon. Injuries have hurt his case but that might
work for the Rangers as those 32 goals were scored in 66 games. He loves
playing the physical game and doesn’t mind getting his uniform dirty.
In the 3rd round, there is a kid who started with
the Everett Silvertips but lost out because the import rules only allowed 2
import players so he wound up in the USHL. His name is Waltteri Hopponen who
hails from Finland and is one of those projects with a positive upside. Came
over because he wanted to play a physical brand of hockey, 17-14-31 in the
Already responsible in his defensive zone while can drive opponents
nuts in the offensive zone. Has a very nasty looking wrist shot that is super-fast.
He will play in the WHL next season and have a strong season. Take him with a 3rd pick.
Fourth round is where I am thinking goalie because of there
being so many and I don’t know who is doing the rankings but if Devin Williams
of the Erie Otters is still there that is who I grab. Williams was only 23-5-1
with a 2>57 goals against and a 0.905 save percentage with 5 shutouts.
I have been watching him for the last 3 seasons and he has
grown better and better with each season. In the OHL playoffs Williams wrestled
the starting goalie spot from a pretty good goalie in Oscar Dansk. Was 9-3-1 in
the OHL playoffs with a 2.63 and 0.912.
Williams is one of the fastest goalies out there as his
reflexes are excellent and his recovery time is solid. Good positional goalie
who can also play the puck very well. His weakness is that he is barely 6’ as
today’s NHL goalies for some reason need to be 6’6 or better. Give me Williams
in a must win game anytime.
5th round is the Rangers close your eyes and
throw a dart as this pick is only 3 picks behind the 4th round pick.
I tossed my dart and it lands on a player from Prince George by the name of Sam
Roupp who is a 6’4 174 defenseman who like Ryan Graves is a stay at home
Because he plays in such an out of the way place then few
know who he is but a couple of WHL watchers told me about and I took a peek at
this kid. Yes he is a project but he has good bloodlines as his brother is a
Penguins defensive prospect.
Roupp is not afraid to drop the gloves and his numbers are
kind of messy because he was on a weak Prince George team. He is a sleeper pick
but in this draft so are a ton of these kids.
The Rangers don’t have picks in the 6th or 7th due to trades but it is no big deal. Odds are the Rangers won’t even come close
to any of those I picked but I hope they don’t trade any of the future picks to
add or move up in this draft.