Over the next few weeks attention will naturally be on the Rangers sprint towards the finish line, a possible President’s trophy and home advantage in the playoffs; as it should be. However we like to do things a little different here from time to time. Why are the Rangers looking at the President’s trophy? Good drafting that’s why.
The current roster is littered with Rangers own draft picks; from Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan to Marc Staal, Artem Anisimov and Carl Hagelin. The core is very much a home grown one. With the likes of Chris Kreider and JT Miller on the way the pipeline is still very full. That’s because Gordie Clark and the Rangers continue to draft well and keep a focus on the future. With that said, over the next few weeks we’ll begin to look at players that may be called up to the stage in June’s draft by your very own Rangers.
As we do this we’ll consider a realistic drafting position and players likely to fall around where the Rangers are likely to pick. At this stage the Rangers are looking at drafting between 25-30th. Hopefully 30, if you know what I’m getting at.
Without further ado; here are the first few candidates that may appeal to the Rangers.
Position: RW Height: 6’1″ Weight: 189
Sissons is draft eligible this year and there’s a very good chance the Rangers have already had a look at the right winger from Kelowna. Why? He’s a team mate of current Ranger prospect Shane McColgan. Considered a good player in his own end with a tremendous work ethic he certainly fits the character mould of a Ranger draft pick. In fact, Sissons is considered one of the best two way players in the upcoming draft which is considered deep in talent, even if its lacking in elite talent.
Counting against Sissons as a potential Ranger pick is that at both the NHL level and with guys like Miller in the system the Rangers are well set at his position. That said, just when you think the Rangers don’t need another blue liner in the draft they go and pick Dylan McIlrath. With 26 goals in 56 games Sissons is having a solid second year in the WHL and leads his team in PP goals. Keep an eye out for the team first Kelowna captain (at just 18) in June’s draft. Currently projected to go late in the first round.
Position: LW Height: 6’1” Weight: 209
Yes, you recognise the surname and yes, you probably already know about the prospect, because of the surname. Matteau is another player slated to go around the period when the Rangers pick come June and will naturally be linked to the Rangers like a certain son of Jeff Beukeboom was.
The younger Matteau recently made the decision to leave the US development program and head to the Quebec Major Junior league and will suit up next year for the club his Dad coaches. The question here is, is he doing it because of the comfort zone associated with Dad being on hand or is he going to the junior circuit for the additional game time. Only time will tell. A physical player and a prospect that excels along the boards, like Sissons, Matteau has traits that are common on the current Rangers roster and that may make him an appealing (and popular) choice come June.
Matteau was leading his USNTDP U-18 team in scoring earlier this season and is known for crashing the net to score many of his goals. Again, with the likes of Hagelin excelling, Dubinsky under long term contract and Kreider on his way Matteau’s position is not one of immediate need but then the Rangers aren’t desperate for help at any position right now so they may go with the player they feel most comfortable with. Blood lines? Maybe
Position: LW Height: 6’2” Weight: 201
The Rangers have shown a fondness for players from the USNTDP in recent years. Think of guys like Ryan Bourque and JT Miller and there’s every reason they’d go back to the impressive production line that resides with the US national programme. Kerdiles – like Matteau – is a left winger and depending which prospect reports you read, like Matteau, is projected all over the first round; as high as 19 and as low as 31. Needless to say, he could be in Ranger territory.
In January this was even written about him: “A strong U18 Championship could make Kerdiles this year’s JT Miller.” Say no more. Considered a good skater, defensively aware and with ‘shooting skills to compete at the highest level’ Kerdiles is an intriguing prospect. A key reason the Rangers may be interested (aside from the fact you can never have enough quality offensive prospects) is that he is committed to Wisconsin next season so won’t be due in New York any time soon and the team can watch patiently as he develops. Oh, and the Rangers have had some pretty decent experiences with Wisconsin players recently haven’t they?
Next week we’ll look at another three potential Rangers draftees.