Prospect Park: The Road To The 2018 NHL Entry Draft Begins

In News, Prospect Park by Jess Rubenstein

Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors)

So with the Stanley Cup Final going on, another event has started up in Buffalo that has our attention. The annual NHL Draft Combine where 104 2018 draft hopefuls are undergoing some rather insane physical testing and individual interviews.

For us here it means we start looking for possible draft prospects for the NHL Entry Draft which takes place on June 22nd and 23rd. Now for those of you who follow me on either Twitter or Facebook then you have read me calling the draft weak. To be fair the reasoning behind my calling the draft weak is because of the Ranger’s needs and where they will select.

Whether it is the 9th pick or the 26th or 28th pick, I do not see the kind of prospects that the Rangers need rated at those spots. To better explain why I say this then we have to build a Rangers roster of just prospects not established players.

Goal

Alexandar Georgiev

While Ranger fans have anointed Igor Shestyorkin as the heir to the throne, it is still not enough. Shestyorkin is a full year away so the actual heir to the throne has to be “The Czar” Alexandar Georgiev. Adam Huska is a junior at UConn but he struggled at times but he is still good enough to be listed as third on any depth chart.

Tyler Wall just had a horrible sophomore season with UMass-Lowell dealing a blow to his NHL hopes. He will need a massive rebound season to work his way back up the prospect depth charts. There are some solid goalies in this year’s draft that the Rangers should seriously consider using a middle round pick on.

Defense

Ryan Lindgren

For us, the defense is starting to look like a strong point once again but with one problem area. All the top prospects are left-handed shooters. Ryan Lindgren is our lead defender due to his physical play, maturity, and leadership abilities. Libor Hajek is the best offensive hope with his laser-accurate shot and excellent passing skills. His defense is going to determine his possible future as it needs major improvements.

Sean Day is another offensive weapon with serious defensive weaknesses. Day is going to get hurt by new coach David Quinn’s preference to using an uptempo puck possession brand of hockey. Sean Day is best suited to playing a wide-open game which showcases his superior skating skills. He is too good an offensive talent to give up on though. Yegor Rykov is a wildcard as while some think he is a solid NHL prospect, I am still not sold.

Rykov will have another year with St. Petersburg of the KHL to prove whether he is worth an NHL contract. Vince Pedrie struggled in his first season with Hartford but so did the entire team considering all the Ranger callups. Pedrie should do better this next season at both ends of the ice.

Brandon Crawley also had too quiet a season with Hartford. Both he and Pedrie were asked to play roles they weren’t ready for so their numbers were not what they could have been. Crawley is a physical defender but is also a strong player with the puck. He fits the Quinn system if he can show improvement.

Forwards

Everyone already knows about Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil but Brett Howden has the ability to be the better of the trio. If you are going to check out the video Howden wears 21. Howden was the number one center for the Moose Jaw Warriors as well as their captain. I can see him becoming the Ranger’s first line center.

Tim Gettinger is the giant, the 6’6 225 center was also a captain but his future is on the right wing. Gettinger was always asked to play the other team’s best forward and expect that to continue. Still, his big body makes him ideal for a power play unit as the player in the crease. Watch out for his shot from the right side of the crease.

Ty Ronning may be listed at 5’9 (I would say he is closer to 5’7) but he is the best pure sniper the Rangers have. There isn’t a place where Ronning can’t score from on the ice. And if you are worried about his size then don’t, Ronning lived in the slot all year. He will continue to grow so his size won’t be that big an issue.

Vinnie Letteri and Boo Nieves both saw time with the Rangers and the duo should be in the running for roster spots. If brought back it will be make it or break it for both Steve Fogarty and Adam Tambellini. Gabriel Fontaine struggled for most of the year but finished very strong, he has good size and skill to be a defensive center. Ryan Gropp has the skill set to be a power forward but one wonders about the fire.

So here would be depth charts

Goal Georgiev, Shestyorkin, and Huska

Defense Lindgren- ?
Hajek- ?
Day- ?

Forwards ??/Howden/Andersson
??/Chytill/Ronning
Lettieri/Fontaine/Gettinger
Fogarty/Nieves/Gropp

Now we know where our biggest holes are then it is time to start looking for players. Clearly, right-handed defense and left wings are where the Rangers should be targeting. Now the questions begin as to who would be the best possible prospects to draft.

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