Welcome back to the second annual “New York Rangers mid round draft targets post.” Last year the club chose Aleksi Saarela and Brad Morrison, both of whom were on my list. Other players like Conor Garland (5th round, Arizona), Ziat Paigin, and Ethan Bear (Edmonton) have had great seasons as well.
While it doesn’t feel great to be missing picks in the first two rounds of the draft (this will most likely change), as a Rangers fan and from a draft lovers perspective, I like to focus on the mid and late rounds so we can look for potential steals. The reason? I believe that if you can get at least 2 NHL players in each draft it should be considered a success. Of course, this does vary based on draft position.
The way I approach the draft is pretty straightforward. I usually make a list of 20 prospects that I really want, and then perhaps ten that I wouldn’t be upset if the Rangers draft them, as long as there are not better players available. In this post I will be covering the guys that I would like to see us take a chance on in the 3rd round.
Before we get started, note that my ideal draft philosophy is two-fold: 1) Draft for skill, the kids will grow, the kids will mature, it’ll be foolish to pass on a supremely talented young kid because of size, and 2) trade down. If the Rangers do get some more picks in the inevitable trades, given the lack of prospects in the system, it may be more worthwhile to trade down and get a couple more players, especially if it looks like some talented players are sliding down.
Sean Day (D), 6’3, 230 lbs – Day is not my favorite option, but he is someone that I feel fits the Rangers’ trend in looking for skilled prospects. Once upon a time, Day was not only a future first round pick but also an “exceptional status” player in the OHL. It looked like he had the size and skating to be successful and was poised to be one of the next up and coming top defensive prospects. His rare combination of skating, size, and strength makes him an absolute pain to go 1 on 1 against and even more difficult to play against in the corners.
Day also has the a very nice shot and a nice outlet pass. The issue seems like he tries to force the play more often than he should, which leads to turnovers and overall unspectacular play. This is such a stark contrast from what people expected of him three years ago that questions were raised. Some answers came regarding personal life, as his older brother was sent to jail. His head coach James Boyd even acknowledged how much he was affected by it (more information here).
Day is a project pick. He has the tools to become a quality defenseman with size, strength, and elite skating. One of the greatest things I’ve heard about Day was this quote from Jeff Marek of Sportsnet.ca:
“Will he be the story people talk about for figuring it out of never making it?”
I think the Rangers might take a chance on him if and only if they somehow get a pick in the first two rounds to reduce risk a little bit. I imagine Beuk would enjoy working with him as well. Here’s how he trended this past year.
At least he was consistent.
Jesper Bratt (W), 5’10, 174lbs – Bratt’s game is talent, just pure talent. I have by no means watched as much of him as @aj_ranger but my goodness every highlight I watch of him I get impressed every time. He is shifty, a good passer, and has an awesome shot. But here is the kicker, I have no doubt that the Rangers will take a chance on him if he is available because they certainly have had a lot of viewings on him. He was on the same team as Rangers’ prospects Malte Stromwall and Robin Kovacs. With Stromwall coming to North America this season and Bratt now having a new extension, it will be exciting to watch him develop and continue to display his talent with more ice time.
Jordy Stallard (C), 6’2, 187lbs – Stallard is one of those players who you may as well flip a coin to see whether he is drafted in the third or fourth round. In any case, Stallard is a creative center with some nice size to him but obviously needs to fill out. He had a pretty nice draft eligible season, ranking 6th on his team in points and 2nd among the draft eligible guys (project first rounder Jake Bean was tops).
The thing about Stallard is he seems like the good ole Canadian mid-round pick. He is a good skater and has acceleration that makes him dangerous on the rush. He is also a wonderful passer and a dangerous scorer from the slot and below the dots. He gets to the net and it looks like that won’t be stopped any time soon. Stallard, as most kids his age, still needs to work on his defensive game. but that shouldn’t be a major concern.
My only issue with drafting Stallard is the philosophy behind him possibly being the Rangers’ first pick, despite there potentially being more skilled players available. Stallard is trending to be a nice 3rd liner who can chip in on offense. Here’s how he trended this year.
His consistency and 5v5 play is alluring.
Adam Fox (D), 5’10, 183 lbs – Fox is one the bigger risks in the draft for obvious reasons. At his size, Fox is by no means an “NHL body defenseman” and I am sure that will be pointed out by a number of his critics. But this kid has tremendous vision and passing ability. He is a consistent producer, begins breakouts, and is a wonderful power play quarterback. His talent alone would make him an early or mid second round pick, but his size makes him “risky.” The question is, if the right handed defenseman falls, do you take a chance on him? It’s hard to say, but considering how weak the Rangers are on the right side, perhaps they get another pick to take a chance on him?
The Rangers have had some pretty good success in the middle rounds of the draft in prior years due to their willingness to take risks on skilled players that fall in the draft. This year should be no different, and hopefully they can come away with one of these kids to help restock the prospect shelves.