First things first: this is a wish list for players that are realistic targets with the 28th overall pick. Of course I’d prefer Nail Yakupov to anyone on this list, but he’s not coming to New York. Second of all, while these are players that have caught my eye, it will be tough to question any pick the Blueshirts make on Friday night. Gordie Clark and the Rangers’ scouting staff have been terrific in recent years, so I’ll be on board with just about any selection they make. But if it were me running the team, these are five guys I’d target:
I’m a sucker for a good combination of speed and skill. I’m an even bigger fan of that package when it’s attached to a 6’0”, 183-pound frame. Bozon’s Swiss/French background is certainly unusual, but it doesn’t mean he’s not a great prospect. Bozon is one of the better goal-scorers in the draft and the Blueshirts could use more of that in the pipeline.
I admit; the emergence of Carl Hagelin is probably an unreasonably large contributor to my optimism on Di Giuseppe. However, Michigan is clearly a well-coached team and a solid prospect feeder, so there’s plenty of reason to believe that Di Giuseppe will turn into a solid player. I like the natural offensive instincts, I like the size and I like the skating. If he’s able to put it all together, he could turn into a star.
I know the Blueshirts already have a puck-mover in Michael Del Zotto and that Tim Erixon projects to be one as well, but I’m of the opinion that you really can’t have enough defensemen with offensive ability. The thought process that one stud attacking defenseman is enough is obsolete and stocking up on blueline weapons is becoming more popular. Schmaltz hasn’t gotten enough attention for being an excellent distributor and is just learning how to handle his 6’2”, 188-pound frame. If he can maintain his skating prowess as he fills into his body, he could become a deadly weapon.
Here’s another polarizing guy. It’s a fair concern that Pearson’s development may have already peaked, but I choose to believe that he’s just a late-bloomer. He’s one of the better natural goal-scorers in the draft and racked up 91 points this year, which just doesn’t happen by accident. Pearson has a great wrist shot and playmaking ability and is just beginning to commit to conditioning in the offseason. I also like the idea that he could be closer to breaking into the NHL than some other guys. I don’t think the Rangers should necessarily be looking for a ton of long-term projects. If a guy like Pearson can contribute in a year or two, that may be a plus for a team built to win now.
I’ve gone back and forth on Wilson repeatedly. On the one hand, I can see the bull of a power forward with improving skills turning into a legitimate star. But I’m just nervous about the complete lack of production at a lower level; is he really going to unearth that part of his game much later? I have advocated for a high-risk, high-reward pick, and Wilson is definitely that.