Prospect Park: It Wasn’t Those Picked That Failed

In News, Prospect Park by Jess Rubenstein

Vtali Kravstov (Russian Ice Hockey Federation)

If I confused you with how I feel about the Rangers 2018 Entry Draft selections then please understand it isn’t the players who failed. Instead, blame management for how they ran this draft as they did a bad overall job. If this was a key stage in the rebuilding process then the Rangers hurt themselves.

It was in draft management where I have the biggest complaints with the Rangers. Forget Vitali Kravtsov as I may not like the pick as another Lias Andersson-like reach. The bigger issue in the first round was giving Ottawa the 48th pick just to move up four spots. Other than Noah Dobson, the drafting trend for defensemen was for guys 6 ft and under. The Rangers overpaid for that four pick jump as they could have given a third-round pick like St Louis paid to Toronto for the 29th pick.

K’Andre Miller (USA Hockey)

Keep the 48th pick so you can use it on Olof Lindbom instead of the 39th pick. Lindbom was not viewed as the best goalie in the draft by anyone in the draft but the Rangers. That the next goalie selected was with the 62nd pick should tell you what most thought about the goalies. The Rangers could have waited until the third round for Lindbom but didn’t so call the second round a waste.

I am not going to nitpick over every pick the Rangers made but I will direct you to someone who is known as an objective draft analyst. Steve Kournianos AKA the Draft Analyst writes about prospects for both the Sporting News and Dobber Prospects. Here is what he said about the Rangers efforts:

New York Rangers
Grade: D

This was supposed to be the draft to set the Rangers up for Stanley Cup contention, much like what former GMs Craig Patrick and Neil Smith did in the mid to late 1980s. Things started off great with skilled Russian goal scorer Vitaly Kravtsov (ninth), but began to head south when GM Jeff Gorton overpaid an extra second rounder to move up four spots to grab raw two-way defender K’Andre Miller (22nd). Swedish puck rusher Nils Lundkvist (28th) stood out against adult competition and has the potential to be their true power play quarterback of the future. What was inexcusable, however, was taking Olaf Lindbom (39th) as the draft’s first goalie to go on the board. Like Miller, the remaining four defenders taken — Jacob Ragnarsson (70th), Joey Keane (88th), Nico Gross (101st) and Simon Kjellberg (163rd) — all lack game-breaking abilities and the potential to be stars in this league. Wingers Lauri Pajuniemi (132) and Riley Hughes (216th) capped off a Rangers draft that began with hope and promise but crashed with a loud thud.

I will disagree with Kourniannos about Miller because someone does need to play defense. But really it is hard to disagree with him on the state of this draft. The Rangers needed to be like the Yankees with this draft but instead wound up like the Mets.

Gordie Clark (New York Rangers)

One last thing about the draft, nobody will ever say “we did a poor job with our selections”. Everyone will be excited about the talent they selected and how much they will help the franchise.

The Rookie Development Camp

The Rangers have 36 prospects attending their annual camp which is a nice number to have. What I don’t understand is why Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, and Alexandar Georgiev are attending. Are they there for window dressing to make it look like there is more talent than there is?

All three showed last year that they were legit contributors to the Rangers. This camp is about looking at the other prospects, the ones who aren’t in the system. Want to know why this is a dumb idea? Think back to when Dylan McIlrath had his kneecap dislocated and ask if it is work risking three key pieces of next season’s team?