With the Rangers now guaranteed to draft in the 26-30 range, the number of potential draftees changes dramatically. Nail Yakupov isn’t going to drop, so there’s no real point in looking at what he brings to a lineup. But with the way the Rangers are performing, we must look at any first round pick who has the potential to slide, any second round pick with the potential to jump, and pretty much anyone ranked around #20-#40 in the ISS rankings.
Position: LW Height: 6’2″ Weight: 198
Hertl is one of those players that came out of nowhere this year due to his fantastic play at the World Junior Championships with the Czech Republic. In six games in the tournament, he notched three goals and two assists. Although he’s not a noted speedster, Hertl has a big body and knows how to use it to protect the puck and shield himself from defenders. Another great aspect about his game is that he isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in the corners. He is relentless on the forecheck, and uses that big frame to work the boards and maintain puck possession.
The only knock that has been publicized for Hertl is his skating. As mentioned above, he’s not a speedster and uses his big body to maintain possession along the boards. In the North American game, skating is very important on the smaller ice surface. It’s not a glaring weakness, but it’s definitely something that needs work.
Position: LD Height: 6’2″ Weight: 210
When drafting defenseman, drafting someone who positions himself well is always a safe bet. Positioning goes along way when covering up other flaws (see: Girardi, Dan), and Pelech is in the same mold. Pelech’s positioning in all three zones is by far his greatest strength. Naturally with great positioning comes great hockey sense and hockey intelligence. At 6’2″ and 210 lbs, Pelech is also good at using his body to win battles along the boards. He is your prototypical defensive defenseman.
Like most defensive defensemen, Pelech has trouble generating offense. He’s not going to be someone who lights up the scoreboard, but he will be that guy you can match up against top competition and feel confident that he won’t get caught out of position. Another aspect that needs improvement is his skating and foot speed. That’s not uncommon for a big defenseman like Pelech, but improvement in that area would solidify his spot as a potential top-four defenseman.
Position: RD Height: 5’11″ Weight: 189
Despite his size, Thrower –well– throws his body around like a battering ram, hitting everything and everyone in sight. What made Thrower into a potential first or second round pick is his newly found offensive game, netting 18 goals (and 36 assists) as a defenseman with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades this past season. That doubled his output from the previous two seasons combined. The general consensus on Thrower is that he came out of nowhere this year because of great progression made in all aspects of his game.
Like most defensemen who throw their bodies around, Thrower can find himself out of position a few times while going for the big hit. As with Pelech, positioning generally goes hand-in-hand with hockey intelligence, which has also been brought up as an area in Thrower’s game that needs improvement.