Henrik Lundqvist was picked 205th overall in 2000. Ryan Callahan was a 4th round pick in 2004. Anton Stralman was a late round draft pick, and even former Rangers such as Nigel Dawes offered mid round value to the franchise. All the above are just a few examples that evidence that you don’t just throw away draft picks, no matter the round.
With the acquisition of Raphael Diaz from Vancouver for a 5th round pick on deadline day, it was perhaps alarming to hear Alain Vigneault refer to the Swiss blueliner as another ‘depth guy’. Of course, no one is expecting the former Montreal Canadien to come in and log twenty minutes per night or put up huge offensive numbers, but it’s important the franchise get value from the defenseman if they’re giving up a pick for him.
Diaz proved he could be a solid NHL defenseman in Montreal (a franchise that has been spoiled with quality blueliners), and with the Rangers defense hardly covering themselves in glory recently, Diaz should get a chance to dress sooner rather than later. With a lack of NHL ready defensemen in the system (and those that are close, being better served with more minutes in the minors) it wouldn’t harm the Rangers to see if Diaz could contribute beyond this season.
A player who is able to generate some offense, Diaz offers something that the Rangers need more of – creativity from the blueline. Finding a legitimate depth defenseman – sorry Justin Falk – who could play 12-14 good quality minutes or, sit without creating a stir when a match-up dictates, would be a boon to the Rangers.
With Stralman unsigned beyond this year, inconsistent and potentially more costly to retain than the Rangers are willing to spend, the Rangers could stand to get more stability on the blueline moving forward. Having another right shooting NHL defenseman allows the Rangers to keep a more balanced unit as well as maintaining patience with the prospects in the system.
With the Rangers needing to replenish their system, if they are going to give up picks for deadline deals then it needs to be done wisely. Diaz could yet be an astute trade or depending on how he’s used, he could be another mistake (John Scott anyone?). It’s important the Rangers make sure to use their draft picks wisely if they’re not going to use them at the draft themselves.