Even if the entire season is lost (unlikely), the NHL will still hold it’s 2013 draft. The Rangers first pick will likely draft in the later half of the second round, so it’s extremely likely they won’t be drafting someone who gets a lot of hype. Instead, they will be looking for more of that second round magic that has worked so well.
Looking at the ISS rankings, we need to move away from the top 30 and read more in-depth about the guys they note as risers and fallers. In our first post, we looked at Max Domi and Darnell Nurse. This time, we are looking at some potential sleepers in Tommy Panico and Atte Makinen, along with goaltender Zachary Fucale.
Position: D Height: 6’1″ Weight: 185
Panico, who is committed to UMass-Lowell next season, is someone who HF has highlighted as a potential draft sleeper. HF notes that Panico is a very smooth skater with a very raw skill set. When perusing the UMass-Lowell website, several scouting reports have noted that Panico is a bit of a late bloomer, and that his size, skating ability, and fearlessness are all tools that lead to potentially great players. Panico is someone who might last until the late second round for the Rangers, and sounds like a kid that fits into their mold.
The reason why Panico seems to be a bit off the board is because he was an incredibly late bloomer. Teams generally don’t draft projects this early in the draft. They are very high-risk, high-reward type picks. Panico fits that to a T with his raw skill set.
Position: D Height: 6’3″ Weight: 205
Focusing more on defense, which is clearly a need for the Rangers given Connecticut’s play, Atte Makinen is another guy who might sound intriguing. The first thing that HF notes about Makinen is that he is a mobile skater with great hockey instincts. But what sticks out is his leadership potential. This is the first time I’ve seen HF specifically note someone’s leadership potential. Makinen has the tools, and the Rangers tend to draft kids with good heads on their shoulders. Makinen seems to fit the mold.
Makinen’s room for improvement comes with using his size. Like most kids his age, he needs to learn how to position himself and use his big body more effectively. When he leaves Finnish Juniors and goes to the SM-liga, he will need to use his size.
Position: G Height: 6’1″ Weight: 176
Fucale is the top goaltender in this year’s draft, but that doesn’t guarantee him a spot in the first round. His greatest strength in net is his reflexes, but HF notes that it’s his maturity that really sets him apart. Fucale has a good head on his shoulders, and it shows on the ice, as Fucale never panics in net. Playing with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, with super prospect and projected top pick Nathan MacKinnon, his team has come to lean on him on an almost nightly basis. His 2.58 GAA and .895 SV% may not be sexy, but it’s more about the tools and less about the quality of his defense.
Fucale, like most goaltenders, is likely a project pick. Henrik Lundqvist will be 31 in March of next season. If Fucale takes the usual four or five years following his draft year to be NHL ready, that means Lundqvist will be 36 years old. If you’re going to draft a goalie to be The King’s successor, then now might be the time to do it.