2015 NHL Draft: Round 4 targets for the New York Rangers
If you missed the previous posts on round 2 and round 3 targets, be sure to read up on those. As we start getting deeper into the draft, it becomes slightly more difficult to predict when a certain player will be drafted, so some of these kids listed may go as early as the third round, or even later in the draft.
Brad Morrison- To begin my round 4 draft targets will be left handed center Brad Morrison. Players like Morrison can separate the good teams from the bad teams. Finding nice depth players in the middle and late rounds consistently is what has made Tampa, Detroit, and even the Rangers competitors. Morrison won’t be a first line center that will lead the league in points, but he will surely be an important member of a competitive team should he continue to develop.
Morrison really reminds me of Brad Marchand (3rd rounder) and Brendan Gallagher (5th rounder). Morrison is 6’0, 154 lbs and is still growing. He plays a very sneaky, intelligent game but without much flare. This will likely make him an underrated prospect until he shocks people at camp when he is older. He is a nice skater and uses that to his advantage to get open in the OZ, but is most effective on the rush because he can cause that much desired separation from the defenseman. He has quick hands in tight which helps him get some points. His skating is nice and smooth but he can still work on his shot but I feel he will be a player that will have most of his offense come from around the crease.
The negatives surrounding Morrison are that he still needs to get stronger on his skates. He has no problem mucking it along the boards and winning battles, but he does get outmuscled a bit. That shouldn’t be a problem as he gets older and puts on muscle though. He still needs to work a bit on his defensive game, but I am sure that with age he will just continue to improve on it. Morrison is a slick, smart player that fits the mold of this team. Whether he will be a middle-six forward capable of putting up a 20-20-40 or a 4th line player is up to him. That said, I’m sure he will continue being a tenacious, intelligent player on the forecheck that will only bode well for his future.
Aleksi Saarela- This is the time to take a chance. Aleksi Saarela may be one of the most talented prospects there are in this draft, but he has been sliding for a couple of reasons. First, his size at 5’10, but 194 lbs doesn’t help him. Some say he hasn’t improved as much as some scouts expected him to.
A couple of years ago Saarela was seen as the next big thing, sometimes even referred to as better than current Penguins first round pick Kasperi Kapanen. He was seriously considered to be one the up and coming Finnish players that would lead their offense in international tournaments. It wasn’t hard to think that when he put up insane numbers in every junior league he played in. The problem is these numbers haven’t really translated while he plays against grown men in Liiga. He was also disappointing in the U20 tournament, getting no points, which was a stark contrast to the U18 tournament last year where he recorded 8 points in 7 games. I find it interesting that he plays well against players his age but struggles a bit against older players, maybe that will change as he gets a bit older.
On to the good: Saarela is a fast skater, although he needs to work on his stride. He has insane hockey sense and slick stick handling, both of which he utilizes to get himself to open ice. Finally, he has a really impressive shot –which is where this offensive winger makes his living off of– and I hope that he works on his game so we can see it in the NHL. I have seen Saarela projected to go anywhere between round 4 and 6 so we shall see…
Tyler Soy- Tyler Soy is a left handed 6’0, 172 lbs center from the Victoria Royals of the WHL (same team as Chaz Reddekopp, who I talked about in the last post, and a player I wouldn’t be surprised seeing be drafted in round 4). Soy recorded 63 points in 69 games this season for the Royals, and is bound to see an increased role next season.
Soy is another one of these intelligent players that with nice foot speed and slick stick handling that causes separation from defensemen on the rush. He is most dangerous when the puck is on his stick, and will be tenacious on the forecheck in order to get it. He has a wicked accurate wrist shot with a nice release, while being an agile skater with quick feet.
The negatives are that he tends to over-pass sometimes, and that he gets outmuscled off of the puck. Hopefully he can bulk up a bit. I think he will end up becoming an offensive 3rd line center that can do some work on the Powerplay should he make the NHL.
Alexandre Carrier- If there is an area that I would love for the Rangers to improve, it is to get another offensive defenseman in the system. Alexandre Carrier is a 5’11, 168 lbs left handed defenseman and I wouldn’t mind if he was a Rangers target. Carrier is a great skater and he uses that to make his game great.
Defensively, he picks up loose pucks and carries them out before a forechecker can get the puck in the corner, thusly nullifying the opposition. Offensively, he uses the skating to penetrate the defense and to set up chances. He has great vision and accurate passing that make him effective on the power play as well. An underrated thing about him is his puck handling ability, as that is sometimes overlooked by the opposition.
Carrier doesn’t have a hard shot, but it is pretty accurate which helps him put points up on the power play by methods other than assisting on goals. He also isn’t afraid to get into a fight when he feels that he needs to and certainly doesn’t shy away from physical play even at his small size.
Ethan Bear- Lets give this kid a nice birthday present by drafting him a day later. Bear is a player that I can see being drafted anywhere between the middle of round 4 all the way through round 6. He is a thick right handed defenseman at 5’11, 204 lbs, that would be a nice add to the organization. This is a player that I can see being a steal of the draft. Playing on the 3rd pair with the Seattle Thunderbirds, the offensive defenseman still provided 38 points in 69 games. His great slap shot and one timer make him a threat from the point, and Bear will have no problem developing because he is also a pretty nice skater.
The problem with Bear, as I am sure many others have seen, is his consistency during games. At times he looks like a sure fire complete defenseman, other times he is beaten on plays he shouldn’t have been. This offensive defenseman is something the Rangers simply don’t have, a right handed offensive defenseman that can bring the BOOM from the point.
While he may not be a top pairing defenseman, he can be a pretty good 4D or 5D that will be getting most of his points on the powerplay. Given his point production while playing just third pairing minutes, Bear is an intriguing prospect that is the boom or bust type player teams are looking for in this kind of draft. His role with the Thunderbirds should continue to grow, which will give him more opportunities to grow and mature.