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Mocking the Mock Draft
Close your eyes and guess



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 GM.

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 this weekend.

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 USHL.

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 defender.

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.

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New York Rangers VS Boston Bruins
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 0 2 1 - 3
Bruins 1 0 1 - 2

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