It has been around two weeks since our beloved New York Rangers were knocked out in 7 games against the Tampa Bay Lightning. For most the loss still stings and is still tormenting us. Not being able to watch the Rangers is rough, but luckily for us it is still early in the off-season. This means there is quite a bit to talk about, such as the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
For those who have not been following the draft, this draft has been compared to the ’03 entry draft where you could have been blind folded, with names of draft eligible prospects on a dartboard and when you threw a dart you would end up with an NHL All Star (I guess you can say maybe we are lucky we do not have a first so we don’t draft a Hugh Jessimen incarnate). Luckily, the Rangers have a 2nd round pick this year because this round is loaded with talent. I will be briefly discussing some targets I hope the Rangers draft in the 2nd round that I have personally watched.
I will be splitting these targets into 3 tiers with 3 players from each tier; Early 2nd round (31-40), Mid 2nd round (41-50) and Late 2nd round (51-61*) because with so many trade rumors surrounding the Rangers this summer we may as well look at all possibilities.
* Because the Blackhawks lost Kevin Hayes they received an extra pick in the draft as compensation giving the 2nd round 31 picks.
Early 2nd Rounds
Jack Roslovic– Columbus born forward Roslovic is the first player on my list if the Rangers somehow move into the early part of the 2nd round. He is a 6’1, 183 lbs right-handed forward that simply fits the current mold the Rangers are building. Roslovic has the potential to be a dynamic top-six RW or C that has a pretty good shot and incredible vision. Roslovic loves to get to the front of the net as well, so him being able to release his shot in the crowded areas is something that teams like to see.
He is committed to Miami University, and we all know how much the Rangers love when their prospects develop in the NCAA, so if we somehow get a pick in that area I don’t think they would hesitate drafting him unless there is a guy from the first round sliding unexpectedly. The concern with him is that he plays with top prospects Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk. But for a team that can really use a prospect that can end up being a good scorer, the Rangers shouldn’t shy away from that.
This team must take these players that are seen as “boom or bust” because in reality thats all the draft is, some proclaimed defensive specialists drafted because they would succeed in the NHL, don’t, so the Rangers should absolutely go for a guy who has a high ceiling.
Vince Dunn– Vince Dunn (left handed) is one of my favorite defensemen in this draft, and I am sure the NYR have seen a good amount of him because he is a teammate of current Rangers prospect Ryan Mantha. Dunn isn’t small, standing at 6’0, 187 lbs, but I think he is one of those defenseman that will be extremely successful as the NHL is changing.
Dunn is one of the better offensive defensemen in this draft that can skate extremely well and really knows how to generate offense. He can see plays developing, which is important in his game as he wouldn’t mind either leading the rushes to enter the zone and set up plays, or when he is in the offensive zone he usually makes smart pinches to keep the puck in and generate offense. Dunn is a defenseman that puck possession teams will covet, and although his defensive game is a little poor, that can always be taught as the player goes through the minors and becomes more mature.
Another concern some people have about Dunn is that he plays with other talented offensive players such as Josh Ho-Sang (a guy I really wanted last year) and Brendan Perlini, but as stated with Roslovic, for a team that has depth prospects like the Rangers and a core that is locked up, the team really should go for the guys who have a high ceiling. Should Dunn make the NHL, he will be a topthree defenseman on a team, with an important role of getting the power play started with great entries.
Dennis Yan- I was struggling with deciding which prospect to put in this slot, and I have decided on Yan. Yan produced over a point per game in Shawinigan in the QMJHL(64 points in 59 games), which is nice but not super impressive but nice nonetheless. What Yan does possess though is a boatload of star potential.
Yan (left handed) skates very well, has quick hands,which help him around the net, but what really impresses people is his shot. These three things coming together sort of exemplify Yan’s game; he is a fast, quick strike player and a prototypical goal scorer that this team needs in the system.
Being a prototypical goal scorer, I assume most of you can expect me to say that he isn’t great defensively and that is true. I hate that you see him coast on the back check, but his effectiveness in the offensive zone, and –more importantly– the fact that he is still only 18 should offset that. Yan fits the mold the Rangers are building; a quick, deadly team that uses their speed to force the opponent into making mistakes.
Mid 2nd Round
Christian Fischer- Who wants an archetypal New York Rangers pick? If you do, than Fischer is the 18 year old for you. Is he American? CHECK. Is he quick? CHECK. Is he a two way player? CHECK. Fischer really is the kind of player I’m sure the Rangers scouting staff is excited about. He skates well and brings a consistent two-way game night in and night out. His positioning and awareness in both ends of the ice is incredible. He just really is an intelligent player that doesn’t mind getting physical to make a play happen, either on the offense or to get the puck out of his own zone.
Fischer possesses a really quick release on his accurate wrist shot, and at time unloads a huge slapshot that I wish we can see more of. He is a thick kid at 6’1, 212 lbs, and will be going to the University of Notre Dame next season. I think his two-way game will allow him to transition well into that league.
Oh and one more thing: he is a right handed forward capable of playing RW or C so rejoice.
Gabriel Gagne/Jordan Greenway- I really couldn’t choose between which player I wanted to write about here, but for those who love power forwards prepare to be happy.
Gagne is a 6’5 right handed center that plays a good all around game. What impresses me is his acceleration, and as he gets older, improves on his skating a bit more, and gains more muscle, this kid will be a bull and will be very hard to knock off the puck. Gagne has an awesome release on his shot and gets in good position to shoot by causing separation from defensemen using his body. He has shown that he has a good pass, but its looking more and more like he is the shooter or the guy in front of the net causing havoc.
Defensively he uses his long reach to try to get pucks off the sticks of players, because let’s be honest: as nice as acceleration is, when you have to stop and start all the time at the size, hounding players like Ryan Callahan gets to be difficult. I feel like he will end up being a winger more than a center if he makes it to the NHL, but still would be a nice pick if the Rangers want to add a power forward project.
Greenway is also 6’5, and a big boy at 223 lbs (left-handed). Similarly to Gagne, he is a bull on the ice and is difficult to knock off the puck. Gagne has better skating techniqu,e but Greenway is more swift. Unlike Gagne, he does not have a great release on his shot but creates more havoc around the net and is the type of forward that scores mostly dirty goals.
Greenway is going to BU next season, and although he isn’t the most complete player, he really is a force on the ice that can play well on both ends of the rink. My real question with him is if he continues to improve (he should in BU) will he end up a 3rd line depth guy with size or will he become a top-six power forward? Only time will tell.
Mitch Vande Sompel- I am sure some of you have heard his name before, but Vande Sompel is the epitome of an offensive defenseman. He is a bit on the short side at 5’10, 183 lbs, but the left handed defenseman is a force. As I have said a few times in this post, if a team wants to be successful, you should take the boom or bust prospects because it’s the draft they are all boom or bust.
Vande Sompel is an incredible skater, which fits how this team is starting to be built, and his skating is what his game really revolves around. He loves to carry the puck up from his zone to negate any opposition chances and try to set up plays for his team. He has great vision when skating and can really visualize plays before they happen, so with his accurate pass he just becomes really effective in the OZ.
Vande Sompel is the kind of defenseman you want to take in this draft because 1) the Rangers don’t really have a defenseman in the system that can quarterback the PP and at the same time be a pretty good skater, and 2) defense can be taught, especially to a younger player as he is given more important roles in juniors, and eventually the AHL. I am not saying that he will end up being equally good on defense as he is on offense, but some time will certainly benefit him and would make him a nice prospect for us to have in the system.
Late 2nd Round
This is the beginning of my favorite part of the draft because this year I have spent a lot of time looking for mid to late round steals after being really jealous of Tampa Bay.
Alexander Dergachyov- This player is one of my favorites in the draft, and I was able to watch him quite a bit thanks to having Russian channels in my house that constantly broadcast games. Dergachyov is a big left handed center at 6’4, 201 lbs and boy does he know how to use it. Dergachyov is able to bull and push through opposing players to get to the front of the net. He is also very intelligent and can really open his teammates up.
When Dergachyov starts to control shifts, his teammates always find some more open ice and Alex can really dish them the puck with relative ease. On top of this super creative playmaking ability, he has a nice shot. His size isn’t detrimental to his skating either as Dergachyov is one of the better skaters in the mid rounds (and he may drop lower to the 3rd because of the Russia factor).
Whoever drafts Alex, I will be extremely upset if someone throws around the term enigmatic without watching him play, as he is one of the hardest working Russian draft eligible players. He is a monster along the boards and is looking like he can become a good penalty killer as well. He is a diamond in the rough player and is looking like he can be a pretty nice second line center with the possibility of becoming a first line guy, should he work on his shot a little bit more.
Dergachyov will continue to develop as he plays in the KHL alongside grown men.
Rasmus Andersson- If someone was to ask me why is Andersson ranked so low?, I would say, “That’s a good question”. Rasmus is the brother to current Ranger defenseman prospect Calle Andersson, but unlike his brother, Rasmus came to North America during his draft year.
Rasmus is a really intelligent right-handed offensive defenseman that works hard along the boards and can skate really well. Defensively, he isn’t the player that gets fans out of their seats with monster open ice hits, but he is quietly effective in the defensive zone and makes subtle plays that only benefit the team (very similar to fellow 6’0 Swedish defenseman Anton Stralman).
In terms of transition, which is very important when discussing a player like him, there is nothing you can hate. His outlet passes out of the zone are wonderful, and if he needs to skate it out he will do so without much of a problem because of how agile his skating is. Offensively, he can surprise people his strong shot and quality passing.
He is looking like a complete defenseman that any team should be looking to draft. He isn’t ranked to go in the 2nd, but this skill set means he might jump up the draft boards. That said, if there is one thing he can work on, it’s his gap control. But once again, he is still young and many defensemen need help with that.
Roope Hintz– I absolutely love intelligent players, and Hintz fits that mold. Hintz has already played against grown men, spending pretty much this whole season playing for Ilves in SM-Liiga (Finnish elite), so the left-handed forward is used to the pro game at a young age. Hopefully this translates to, at least physically, a successful transition to the NHL.
Offensively, he is capable of capitalizing on chances with his hard accurate shot, or being the playmaker with quick, decisive passes. He knows where to be all of the time, and can be sneaky in getting to open ice. Roope also fits the Rangers style with his skating, and that is what helps him be such an offensive threat. In every game I was lucky enough to see him play, he was able to change his pace to catch defensemen flat-footed or surprise them by completely changing direction while still maintaining his high speed.
Hintz just really reminds me of a bigger, more talented Carl Hagelin. He even has the long hair.
HONORABLE MENTION: Brendan Guhle a big, two-way defenseman that I would be fine with drafting in the 2nd, but feel that he may be a 3rd rounder so I will talk about him more in a later post.
There are a few other players (specifically Jakob Forsback-Karlsson and Nicolas Meloche) that can possibly be Rangers but I didn’t want to write about them because I don’t think it would have been fair being that I haven’t watched them enough.