2015 NHL Draft: Breaking down who the New York Rangers selected

ryan gropp
Gropp (Photo: Seattle Thunderbids)

Well, the day I have been looking forward to since the Rangers got eliminated is officially over. I will be brutally honest here, this wasn’t a great draft for the Rangers in my personal opinion, but it was still nice and I am more happy about this one than last year’s. My ideal plan for the draft was to go for whichever player had the most skill, something teams like Toronto and Philly did. Even though the Rangers didn’t necessarily do that, I have faith in Gordie Clark and am pretty happy with guys we took today.

Ryan Gropp- Gropp was a player that I wasn’t expecting to be available by the time the Rangers picked, but he is a nice player. My only gripe about him is that the Rangers didn’t draft the more skilled player in Sprong instead. That said, Gropp is a very solid pick and has a pretty nice chance to make the NHL. He has good size at 6’2, 183 lbs, but he brings more to the table. Gropp is a really swift skater and has a wonderful shot for a kid his age.

One of the things many people don’t talk about is Gropp’s soft hands. The kid is poised to be a nice goal scorer in the NHL, most likely a 2nd line kind of guy. What he needs to work on however, is getting to the front of the net and being hungrier to get the loose pucks. He is a perimeter player, but a sniper with a big body for sure. He may be going to North Dakota next season which is a great thing for both us and him, as he is bound to get stronger playing against these older players. Even if he doesn’t Gropp will be given a lot of time in Seattle and can take his game to that next level. Some more interesting things on Gropp is that Gordie Clark said he was a top offensive prospect in the draft that would be available by the time the Rangers picked even ahead of some 1st rounders. That is probably why they passed on Sprong.

This is another little chart I like. As some of you may know Barzal is truly a potential top 6 center and it is only natural that some fans worry that Gropp may be a product of him. This puts that to rest.

Overall, he is a nice offensive player that needs to just get to the net more. His game revolves around his skating and quick accurate shot. Nice pick at 41 and has the potential to be a 2nd liner.

Robin Kovacs- Kovacs is a great addition with the first pick of the 3rd round. Kovacs is 6’0 172 lbs and is capable of playing both wings. Already putting points up against men in Sweden’s second division this pick seems to be a good one. Robin is a hard worker with speed, and he uses that to get loose pucks and to bother the opposition. Kovacs is the kind of player the Rangers love to have in the system, a hard working player capable of being effective on both ends of the rink.

Offensively he has a pretty accurate wrist and snap shot to go along with his sweet stick handling ability. His vision on the ice and creativity also makes him a nice player to have on the power play to help set plays up. Kovacs not only has skill but also a little edge to his game, and being the tenacious player that he is he is just a buzz saw on the ice. Although he still needs to improve on his skating he a pretty great all around player that can be either the shooter or the playmaker on the play.

If I had to guess the kind of player he can be, he would be a nice 2nd/3rd line scorer that fans would love.

Sergey Zborovskiy

Sergey Zborovskiy- This is a pick that I am questioning a little. Don’t get me wrong I like the player, but the Rangers must really see something in him because they took him a bit earlier than I think most expected him to be taken. Zborovskiy could have probably been taken in rounds 4 or 5, but like I said the Rangers clearly like him. The 6’3, 198 lbs defenseman is definitely a project pick. He is also a Rangers fan, and his favorite player happens to be Ryan McDonagh, who will hopefully one day show him the ropes. Sergey is a project player, it will take him at least four years to really be given a chance at the NHL level, unless he takes massive leaps.

Zborovskiy is a two-way defenseman, but is definitely more proficient on the defensive side. He came to the WHL this year after not getting much time playing in Russia’s second league (MHL), even though he could’ve probably done well there. Zborovskiy skates pretty well for a big defenseman and is still getting used to the high tempo North American game. I guess the Rangers think when he really feels comfortable he can break out. He has good lateral movement and Sergey also has a nice first pass out of the zone which will help in the transition game.

All in all, the kid is an all around defenseman, at least that is what he is trying to become. He plays a physical game at times and has no problem trying to join the rush to help his team score. He needs to work on a little bit of everything, but the hulking right handed defenseman does add something to the Rangers prospect pool. He probably pans out as a bottom pairing defenseman. That said big guys like him take time maybe he will surprise us.

Aleksi Saarela- Here is one of the guys that I was expecting the Rangers to take. While Zborovskiy is a project defensive player, Saarela is a project offensive player. He has all of the tools to be a top-six forward at the NHL level; skating, shot, vision. He has it all. He just really needs to put it all together and become a more consistent threat offensively.

As I said when briefly profiling him, Saarela has a huge, booming slapshot and has no problem letting it rip even when he is skating. He has an explosive first step, and doesn’t slow down when he gets the puck. The Rangers are taking a risk in taking a smaller but dynamic center/wing. Playing against grown men already in the SHL only goes in his favor in terms of development. He absolutely needs to get stronger to speed up his development though, helping him protect the puck with more effectiveness.

This is a boom or bust pick that can end up giving the Rangers a top 6 player with 1st round offensive talent. He just needs to put it all together and become stronger.

Brad Morrison- Morrison is another player that I predicted the Rangers might select in the 4th round. Morrison is a really intelligent center with skill that also plays with a bit of an edge. He is a nice skater and is shifty enough to give himself room to produce offense. He has quick hands in tight that help him get pucks around defensemen, give good passes and score goals in front of the net.

Morrison has to get stronger on his skates if he doesn’t want to be pushed off the puck easily. Once again, that will come with age and him playing against older players. This is a pretty nice pick by the NYR and he looks like he can be a nice, intelligent, point getting 3rd liner that bothers the opposition. He reminds me a lot of Brad Marchand.

Daniel Bernhardt- This kid is a potential steal in the 4th round. I wasn’t able to watch a lot of him but he is a big 6’3, 191 lbs right wing with elite skating. He dominated the Swedish Jr. league, scoring 61 points in only 44 games. Bernhardt has some ways to go rounding out his game, but with his speed, size, and accurate shot he is a dangerous player. Set to play in the SHL next season, Bernhardt should be able to take his game to the next level while playing against the upper echelon of Swedish competition, which includes a good number of former NHLers. Bernhardt is a perfect fit for the transition game the Rangers play. His speed, intelligence and his ability to either be a playmaker or the scorer on a play gives me something to be excited about. It hurts to lose Carl Hagelin, but the Rangers drafted a pair of bigger, more offensively gifted, speedy Swedes yesterday.

Adam Huska- I don’t know much about Huska, but I will try to parlay all the information that I know. Having goalies in the system is a great idea, you never know what will happen, just look at Cam Talbot. Huska is a big goalie at 6’3, but is very, very raw. For a big goalie he is very mobile and athletic, but that causes him to be out of position a lot.

Coincidentally, the Rangers have the best goalie coach in the league that specializes in teaching younger goalies positioning (once again, see Cam Talbot). Huska is a goalie that will take at least five years to develop. The Rangers will take their time with him, but he has the raw skill. The Rangers have the depth in the position to take a risk and watch him develop.

The Rangers picked players that all fit the mold of the team they are looking to build. All of the players picked are nice skaters that have a good amount of skill even if they are risky. The players here all have the intelligence and the speed to play a fast transition game.

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  • I’m not exactly sure how the NCAA eligibility rules work in the NHL; as I’m watching the NHL channel over the last couple of days they keep talking about Jack Eichel having to make a decision about going to Buffalo or back to BU for a year or two. It’s making the Sabres fans crazy up here in western New York. Can anyone out there give a good summary of how it works?

    Thanks- regards- orange

    • It’s pretty simple… He can’t sign a contract or even with an agent or he loses NCAA eligibility. Also he can not take any equipment given out by BUF, and must pay his own way to any prospect camps/tournaments they hold. Once he does any of these things he will lose NCAA eligibility leaving him only two realistic options… sign ELC with BUF or go play for whoever owns his JR rights.

  • Josh
    Nice write up.

    3 picks intrigue me:

    Gropp, size, speed, soft hands.
    Zborovskiy, big frame, some skill, right handed shot.
    Bernhardt, big frame, soft hands, speed, needs work.

    Over all it looks like we may have had a reasonable day at the draft.

    Loosing Hags hurt, but after some long thought, it had to be don’t, but he will be missed just the same. Good luck Carl!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I knew you would Walt lol.
      These picks are very nice, Gropp was high on the Rangers’ list and if continues to put more points up next year it is looking good. Last year he scored 30, if he can eclipse 40 or 45 next year which is still very hard to do I think we got ourselves a nice player.
      Zborovskiy is really interesting to me because like I said the NYR could’ve probably had him later. For a big guy he skates well. NYR must feel he was a steal with how he rose almost 100 spots on central scouting in a few months.
      Bernhardt is someone I am excited to know more about to.

        • Kid went undrafted after LA who the dad said was also interested traded the pick to Edmonton.

        • Maybe we can invite him to camp for a try out ??????????

          Wasn’t he the kid that played with an edge, and had size, with skill as well?????

          • Had a similar thought, Walt. My hope was we’d give Askew a serious look…

            Don’t take offense, Josh, but “nice” and hockey are at cross-purposes.

            Obviously this is subjective, but I’d suggest that a broad range of BSB posters would have preferred that we came away with more “high-motor”, “never takes a shift off”, “not afraid to get dirty” than this adjective–

            pleasing; agreeable; delightful:

            amiably pleasant; kind:

            That said, perhaps draftee Morrison might evolve into Dubi 2.0.

          • Walt/Josh, lets hope Cameron Askew gets a tryout with the NYR, Matthew Barnaby likes his total package. I thought for sure Boston would have taken interest, being his is home grown, and has the grit and size that is no longer available with Lucic gone! Speaking of Milan Lucic, everyone on this site knows how I wanted him in a NYR uniform, told everyone he fits the bill on what we need, very upset he is now an LA King, I wonder if Sather even talked with the Bruins on his availability??

          • Sorry I have to disagree on Lucic, too old, too slow, too expensive. As for Cam Askew, let’s see if he gets the invite, to prove his worth!!!!!

      • I think Gropp will be getting 1st line minutes next year, so hopefully he can fill in and learn to go to the net. If he does both he should put up some obscene numbers.

        With Kovacs, AIK has been a yo-yo club, but the allsvenskan really is a step down from the SHL. Hopefully he has a growth spurt in him or he’ll probably project to be a bottom 6 forward.

  • How can you put a ceiling on where a 19 or 20 year old projects in 3 or 4 years. This guy is a 3rd line player, this guy might top out as a 2nd line scorer…really? Nobody knows how these players will pan out, give them a chance to put their skates on first, before we give them limits

  • Was away all day so I missed the draft but was shocked at the Hags trade till I heard Gorton(who looked pained BTW) and realized that Hags was going to ask for at least 4 mil which is too much for him. Just like Prust & Callahan, there is a limit & when it goes too far you have to move that player, sentiment aside. As far as the draft picks people get all upset about guys being drafted they know nothing about. That second goal by Gropp in the vids is flat out brilliant but only a small sample. Our scouts are among the best in the league so let’s see how they did. Lots of european skaters this year and it’s hard to get a read but they all sound intriguing. Look at our 3 third rounders in 2013 who at this point all look like they should have been 1st rounders. In Gordie we trust. I love Hags and he’ll be an asset for Anaheim.

    • I would’ve picked some players over others like Koroseltsev over the goalie but I think we did more than fine.

  • And just to remind people(like the negative Larry Brooks), many were predicting doom and gloom after last summer & the team actually ended up being better. If not for major injuries this team would have taken Lord Stanley. Have faith my friends!

  • I have no energy on this draft, I will trust Gordie Clark. I had no idea who these players were that we drafted. I like that we did add a potential power forward to the mix. I still do not get the not drafting righty forwards though.

    To be honest I do not think we got better yesterday, but still July 1st is still to come to truly assess the line up.

    I still think there are a few moves to be made.

    Any ideas as who the Rangers will target in the undrafted free agency? Are there any Kevin Hayes types out there?

  • I think we are further from the cup today then we were yesterday. If you are going to trade Talbot and hagelin then you would think you would get a impact player. Etem at this point isnt as good as Hag’s. Raanta isnt as good as talbot and all of the draft picks are all what you expect from Clark. Smaller guys who need strength. I mean is it really that difficult to draft bigger meaner guys like the Kings or Jackets. look at everyone of their picks. even blackhawks went big.

    • What are you talking about??

      From the article, the way I read it, we drafted only one person under 6 feet tall.. What are you looking for the jolly green giant????????

  • Jack, as we stand right this minute, I agree. We are no better today then before the draft. The two players we received in trade for Talbot and Hags aren’t as good.

    The kids we drafted are a few years away so the book is still out on them. Fingers crossed.

    Leather: Our first rounder Gropp is big is stature but from what I have read is not what I’d like in a power forward, which is bite and a degree of nasty to go with the size. I hope he can acquire some of that because we sure do need it!

    Leather on a non hokey related matter have you read The Corps reinstated the “Raiders”?

    • I did…MAR SOC is now the Raiders. I like that. Tradition reinstated. My nephew wants to become one….He needs to work at it with the attitude part…haha

  • I don’t know or care about any 19 yr old or 20yr old kids who might, and the operative word here is “might'” play for the Rangers someday. This draft will be remembered as the draft that Glen Sather had to pay, for overpaying slow-footed, limited defensemman, and puffed up, one dimensional tough guys. Paying for his mistakes while sacrificing a valuable quantity in Hagelin has done nothing but make this team weaker heading into next season. Go check out some of the Anaheim message boards. They’re ecstatic at getting rid of Etem—some calling him a career AHLer. Maybe they’re wrong. Maybe not. That’s not the point. The window on this team just closed a little tighter yesterday—adding question marks to a roster that includes a top goal scorer who can’t score in the playoffs—and a playmaker who is coming back from a cracked skull. Then you turn around and trade your best penalty killer and a lockeroom favorite. Yeah, it was a really good day for tjhe Rangers!! Now lets go out and sign some aging FA at the expense of some more roster spots. LGR, Indeed!!!

  • The exact same concerns were raised last year when the Rangers lost B. Boyle, Stralman, Pouliot and Dorsett. Supposedly, we were going to be much worse. Reality–we got significantly better in the regular season year to year, and were one period away from matching last year’s playoff performance. That happened because other stepped up.

    The Rangers this season, in effect traded Hags and Cam for Etem, Raanta and picks. A slight drop in talent yes, but they created significant cap room to hopefully lock down their remaining RFAs this year and next, and we got younger. This is simply the reality of life in a hard cap league. The idea we could get significant established NHL talent for Hags and Cam that would fit within the cap is a reach at best.

    Technically, are we weaker today than we were two days ago? Sure. But that assumes we get the exact same performance again from the core youth players like Kreider, Hayes, Stepan, Miller, Fast and McDonagh, which is not likely. All are in fact very likely to take important steps forward this year, and based on that alone we will be much, much better. And don’t forget Lindberg, who is likely to make the team and play a big role too.

    And, there will likely be money left to sign some RFAs and or swing a trade if need be either now or before the deadline. Let’s not judge this year until we see the whole plan unfold in training camp. The roster is a long way from set.

    We will miss Hags, and to a lesser extent Cam. But this cap room will now help us get closer to the goal of winning a cup, not further away.

    • Thank you for reminding everyone of the reality of the world we live in.

      4.25 mil is more than we can afford to pay a 3rd line guy given some of the other contracts we have on the books. Etem is a few years younger and a couple mil cheaper with a higher ceiling.

      Hagelin is man…..unfortunately we couldn’t make it work dollar wise. While we could have probably squeezed him in this year the cap room will come into play next summer with some other guys contacts running out.

      • In addition to the cap implications that swapping Hags for Etem makes us bigger and more physical up front, which may have been part of the thinking. Etem is certainly a riskier player than Hags (I don’t think anyone knows just how well he’ll play over as whole season), but there is significant upside there too.

  • You don’t create uncertainties and question marks, and then claim that we will be a better team. Maybe we will, or maybe we won’t. T

    • Joe, there’s an old line from a TV commercial from some years back–“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later”. If the Rangers had decided to pony up and sign Hags, I’m sure a lot of people would have been thrilled, until they’d discover that it would cost them Stepan, or Miller (if a team like the Pens made an aggressive offer as rumored), or down the road Kreider or Hayes, who will surely command big raises next summer. Or it might have prevented the Rangers to make a big move at the deadline next March.

      It’s easy to say it made us weaker. Of course it does for the moment. What was the alternative?

  • The Rangers were hurt with Matts on the bench. When he comes back healthy (which they are predicting – his head injury was more severe, but different from a regular concussion in that once healed there hopefully shouldn’t be any chronic problems), I’ll be less worried about the loss of Hags. In fact, its the loss of Talbot that I’m a bit more worried about. I believe that the TEAM played better with Talbot in goal, not because they were “rallying to his cause”, but because the pace of the puck movement was much faster due to his superior puck handling ability. Don’t get me wrong – Hank is a SUPERB goal tender, I just think that the Rangers wouldn’t have NEEDED to cling to 1 goal victories (or suffered 1 goal losses despite being outshot by ump-teen shots) if Talbot had stayed in goal when Hank got healthy. I know its heresy, but there… I’ve typed it. Talbot brought the puck forward to the blue line on a significant number of shoot-ins, while Hank continues to bring the puck behind the goal, eating up valuable seconds on power plays, and negating huge speed advantages on possession changes.

    • True, but on that same token, Hank has gotten leaps n bounds better handling the puck this year. You can clearly tell, that he has made it a point to improve in this department, and I have a hunch, he will be even better handling the puck going forward.

    • Purple, think about this–your mythical NHL coaching career depends on the right move here. Are you saying you would sit Hank, who had been playing lights out himself before the injury? You’d sit a guy who’s considered one of the top 5 goalies in the world, a sure fire future HOFer, the guy who put the team on his back in ’12 to take the team to the ECF. The guy who pitched back to back shutouts in Games 6 and 7 in ’13 vs the Caps. The guys who was beyond brilliant in the ’14 SCF final run, especially in the Pens comeback and Game 6 vs the Habs. The guy who then went on to win clutch, must win games vs the Caps this year. That’s the guy you’d have sat for a guy for a guy who has played a grand total of 57 NHL games, and his next pressurized, must win game will be his FIRST ever! A guy who has never started a playoff game. That’s the move you’d have made?

      Yes, Talbot’s a better stick handler. That’s nice. Until he proves he can win under pressure, give me the guy who has proven over and over that he can, and that’s Hank.

      In terms of having him on the team this year, how would that have worked? Would you sit your franchise goalie, who is making $8.5 mil and had a no trade clause through 2021? You realize that all that would have done is cause dissension. And in the end, even if Cam wins the Vezina, he’s gone at year’s end. So what would be accomplished?

      If Talbot were that good–as good or better than a future HOF goalie which you seem to be suggesting, then teams would have gladly given up their number one to get him. But no one did. Why? Because NHL GMs see him as a good but not yet great goalie with a very slim resume who has accomplished very little to this point.

      It’s absolutely amazing to me, after all these years following sports, how some people totally fall in love with back up goalies and QBs–even when you have a great starter in place like Hank. I remember 20 years ago how many people were screaming for Richter to be benched in place of Healy–and that was AFTER Richter had won the Cup. It’s hilarious!

      Hank is a superstar on his way to the Hall. The closest Cam will ever get to the Hall is if he buys a ticket one day.

      • Btw, put me down for Nov 15 on the Blue Seats Blog pool for what I will call the first “Raanta Rant”, where someone will say “time to sit Hank and start Raanta”. Based on past history with backup goalies, it’s inevitable! 🙂

        • Crazy prediction. Hank starts out slow. He has mediocre numbers through December. There will be uproar among fans claiming that trading Talbot was a mistake and that Hank is washed up. Miraculously in January Hank turns his game around and is lights out the last 3 months of the season. Surprisingly he ends up with a 2.20 gaa and a .925 sv% by the end of the season despite plenty of fans calling for a trade. Ya know, the same thing that has happened every year since 2004.

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