Yeah, yeah, I know. The decade ended already. We’re in a new one. But, better late than never, right? I’ve seen a lot of these, and wanted to throw in my two cents. Here are the Rangers top 10 draft picks of the decade (Note: I considered time played with the Rangers. Marek Zidlicky was a great pick, but he never suited up. So he’s not on the list.)
10. Lauri Korpikoski
The “Korpedo” was the 19th overall pick in the 2004 draft. In his one full season on Broadway, Korpikoski established himself as a nice defensive forward with some offensive skills. He was later traded for Enver Lisin. He was 6-8-14 last year. I’m kind of disappointed the Rangers gave up on him so early. While Lisin clearly has some great offensive skills, the “Korpedo”could’ve been another Ryan Callahan type.
9. Bobby Sanguinetti
He hasn’t played much in the NHL, but he clearly has a lot of talent. He has offensive skills, and is improving defensively. He’s playing well in Hartford, but still needs time in the AHL. You’ll see a lot of him next year.
8. Fedor Tyutin
Fedor Tyutin was a stalwart on the blueline for the first couple years of the Rangers resurgence. Big, strong, composed, he had a bright future ahead of him. Still does. Only it will be in Columbus. Tyutin was part of the Nik Zherdev deal. Again, I’m disappointed that they gave up on him. We could’ve used him now.
Still only a rookie, Anisimov is showing flashes of offensive brilliance, with an improving defensive sense. So far, he is 7-8-15, and he seems to improve every game. We know he can score; he scored 37 goals in Hartford last year. I think he has star potential. He’s 6-4 and has room to put some weight on his frame.
6. Brandon Dubinsky
Dubinsky is starting to live up his potential, as he’s getting first line duty with Marian Gaborik. Selected in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft, Dubinsky is a talented forward. Score, hit. He can do it all. He has the potential to be a big time player.
5. Petr Prucha
One of the surprises coming out of the lockout, Prucha posted 30 goals in his rookie year. Of course, he fell into the doghouse after that, and saw his goal totals dip, before being shipped off to Phoenix. A fan favorite, Prucha really got the short end of the stick. Once Jagr left, he wasn’t getting the same chances. Making this pick even better was that it was in the 8th round of the 2002 draft. A steal, to say the least.
4. Michael Del Zotto
Taken in the first round of the 2008 draft, MDZ surprised some by making the team this year. He quickly took the lead on the power play, and has been one of the best rookies in the NHL. He has Leetch-like skill. Great vision, unbelievable passing, and a good shot. He’s a keeper, that’s for sure.
3. Ryan Callahan
Taken in the 4th round of the 2004 draft, Callahan’s rise has been breathtaking. He’s an energy winger, who works hard, but it pays off as he scored 22 goals last year. A great penalty killer, and he loves to hit. He is the alternate captain of the Rangers, and was named to the US Olympic team. He’s a future captain.
2. Marc Staal
Another first round pick, Marc Staal is quickly becoming a shut down defenseman. His offensive skills are still a work of progress, but he is always paired against opposing teams best players. He is one of the best young players in the league, and will anchor the Rangers blueline for a long time.
1. Henrik Lundqvist
Some may say this was the best pick of the decade for the entire NHL. He was taken in the 7th round of the 2000 draft. He wasn’t even the first goalie the Rangers took. They took Brandon Snee in the 5th round. Who is Brandon Snee? Exactly. Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the league. He led Sweden to a gold medal. He has been nominated for the Vezina trophy multiple times. He is the key to the Rangers success. What a draft pick.
There are others who didn’t make this list. I didn’t include promising youngsters such as Chris Krieder, Derek Stepan, Ryan Borque, or Evegeny Grachev. They haven’t played a game yet in the NHL. Alexei Cherepanov would be on this list somewhere, if not for his tragic death. But, in the last part of the decade ,the Rangers have done a great job of drafting. Some really promising players in the system. I can’t wait.