For years I believed the saying “In Gordie we trust”, as in Gordie Clark the New York Rangers Director of Player Personnel. The knowledge gained talking to Clark helped me understand why things are done the way they were.
I remain forever grateful for Gordie taking the time to talk to me over the years. But after the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has ended, I find myself rather confused about the selections the Rangers made. If there truly is a rebuilding plan then I can’t find it.
I am not alone as many a Ranger fan voiced their concern over social media. It is understandable as way too many times have the Rangers promised that they were rebuilding but weren’t. The Rangers remain 0 for the Dolan Era and it looks like that zero will be around for a while longer.
A case can be made for the three first-round picks but for those in the second through sixth rounds that is a different story. I have to admit I am at a loss to try to explain how will these picks help the Rangers with their rebuild.
#39 Olof Lindbom G Djurgårdens IF J20: The first goalie selected in the 2018 draft but the eighth best goalie. The only thing I can point to is that Lindbom had a solid Under-18 World Junior Championship where he was named “best goalie”. Other than that his play has been average for the junior teams in his native Sweden.
#70 Jacob Ragnarsson LHD Almtuna IS (Sweden): The son of former San Jose Shark defender Marcus, plays on a team in the second division of the Swedish hockey league. Seen as a defensive defender who plays within himself, doesn’t appear to play a very physical game.
This prospect needs to come over to North America and play in the CHL if he is serious about an NHL career. Otherwise hard to see him as anything more than a spot player.
#88 Joey Keane RHD Barrie (OHL): 12-32-44 +45 in 62 games for the Barrie Colts of the OHL. Coached by former NHLer Dale Hawerchuk, turned down Miami of Ohio (NCAA) to play major junior. Keane appears to be a late-bloomer and hopefully, that works out for the Rangers.
Originally thought of as a defense only defender, has added some offense to his resume. Struggled last year but improved his vision and decision making. Still needs some polish to his game to be taken seriously as prospect.
#101 Nico Gross LHD Oshawa (OHL): The Rangers went right back to the OHL with their fourth-round pick. Gross plays for the Oshawa Generals but originally hails from Switzerland.This one might be a steal as Gross fell to the fourth round after being ranked higher. A second-team OHL All-Rookie selection, Gross was 4-10-14 in 58 games and the OHL Writers may have the best scouting report on Gross. Gross was rumored to be heading back to play for Zug in the Swiss League and that might be the best for him at this time.
Nico Gross needs to hit the weight room and work on his shot but this one maybe could turn into a Top four defender. Gross to me has a better chance of becoming an NHLer than Jacob Ragnarsson.
#132 Lauri Pajuniemi RW TPS Turku: This one was a true headscratcher as this was Pajuniemi’s second attempt in the NHL’s Entry Draft. Not even ranked by the NHL’s Central Scouting in this year’s rankings.
Split his season between the main and junior teams of TPS Turku. Not sure what the Rangers see in this one as hardly anyone thinks much of him.
Finnish Prospects has this profile of him and even then they aren’t exactly singing his praises.#163 Simon Kjellberg LHD Rogle Jr20 (Sweden): Jeff Gorton said after the draft that the Rangers took the best player at the spot they drafted. So why did they take a player who dropped off Central Scouting’s final rankings?
Try and look for a scouting report on him that says more than he has good size and that his father played in the NHL. Will be shocked if he ever suits up for Hartford.
#216 Riley Hughes RW St. Sebastian’s School (MA): This is a prospect that I suggested the Rangers grab with the 163rd back on June 13th. The Rangers traded a seventh-round pick in 2019 for Las Vegas’s seventh-round pick.This is what I wrote: Hughes was a high schooler in Boston where he like Chris Kreider put up decent numbers. Has good hands, smart hockey IQ, and on-ice vision.
Plays an attacking brand of hockey but needs to learn how to win the puck battles. This one will take a while to get to the NHL, signed to play in the USHL next season then Northeastern of Hockey East for the 2019-2020 season. He is still growing but we see a smaller Chris Kreider here so worth the risk.
A very confusing draft for the Rangers as some of the picks make little sense while others were very much reaches. Whatever Jeff Gorton and Gordie Clark have planned, the plan doesn’t look clear at this point in time.