On Sunday, the NHL Draft Lottery was held, and the Rangers first round fate was decided. When all the balls stopped popping, the Blueshirts ended up with the #9 overall pick. The gang around here has done some really nice analyses and historical context of the pick, but I haven’t gotten a chance to weigh in, yet. With that in mind, I have a few thoughts on this Friday morning.
1. Now, obviously we are looking at a talented player at number nine, especially in a deep draft. However, I think there is a natural emotional response of disappointment after what the fanbase went through this season. That’s ok. I feel the same way. After all the “almost” moments of the past few years to just have the bottom fall out beneath us, we deserve Rasmus Dahlin. We deserve that Auston Matthews piece that gives us hope in a quick turnaround on the re-build. It’s only natural. Alas, it was not meant to be.
2. That doesn’t mean that we won’t find a really really good player in that spot. It may just be a guy who needs that extra year of development. Most of the mocks have the Rangers taking Hughes, Dobson, Boqvist or Wahlstrom. Now, of course this could change, but these are really talented kids. I think it’s safe to say that the big three will be off the board by the time the Rangers pick but given the wealth of puck-movers on the backend and power forwards on the front, the top ten is teeming with potential.
3. As Rob mentioned in his post yesterday, Hockey Men™ do stupid things all the time. You never know who they will pass by because their junior coach from Thunder Bay said that Svechnikov was soft in the corners. My assumption is that Brady Tkachuk will go much higher than his appropriate draft slot for this very reason. This isn’t to say that he isn’t a good player, and to be honest, if he was the best player available at number 9, I wouldn’t be that upset if the Rangers drafted him. I feel like Tkachuk gets picked on a bit because he has become this draft’s poster boy for all that is wrong with modern hockey evaluation, but you know he will go higher because he is perceived as tough, “hard to play against” (whatever the hell that means) and has good blood lines (have you seek Keith lately?).
4. A quick note on the “hard to play against” thing. You know what’s hard to play against? A guy who smokes you with his speed and snipes your goalie. That is much harder to play against than a guy who really won’t give up in a corner. /rant.
5. How pissed must the NHL have been at Ernst & Young (the auditing firm in charge of the integrity of the draft results) when that ball came up Buffalo? It’s just getting sad, now. Although, they will have two Rasmus’s, and that will be fun.
6. The Rangers placement, of course leads to talk of using that number nine pick to trade up into the more elite talent range. As fans, we tend to look at it as a binary, do we or don’t we trade up? I think any GM worth his salt is doing his most complete diligence on the nine pick and keeping an eye out for opportunities if a worthwhile trade presents itself. At this stage of hockey operations, I think you can feel pretty confident that some GM will do something stupid. Whether that is offer you a nice deal to move up for a more established asset (Ryan Spooner: Good Canadian Boy, anyone?) or pass by a more talented player in the Draft itself chasing the mythic hard-nosed, elite-skilled, teammate defending, knows-how-to-win total package at the number 5 pick.
7. The coaching search continues. My money is still on Sheldon Keefe. Who knows how any of these less established guys will shake out, but as long as the organization has a consistent message, it will be an improvement over the rigidity of the last regime.
8. Speaking of which, why hasn’t Lindy Ruff been fired yet? I know it’s beating a dead horse at this point, but guys like that tend to have a much louder voice in the room than they should. Whether he is an assistant to a rookie head coach or a special advisor to Glen Sather, his message is no longer welcome. For the organization to truly turn the page, a fresh, modern message is necessary.
9. Man, this whole non-playoff thing is weird. After this much time without Rangers hockey, I am ready to get on with the business of the off-season. Such is life. Two plus rounds to go. Hopefully the Rangers will announce a coaching hire soon and we can start dreaming on roster construction in advance of the Draft. This is one of the most important off-seasons in the franchise’s history and it feels like a lot of hurry up and wait. So, wait we will. Have a great weekend everyone!"Quick thoughts following the Draft Lottery",