Does drafting Kappo (or Hughes) alter Jeff Gorton’s plans?

As more time elapses following the phenomenal news that the Rangers will be drafting second overall, we are able to take a step back and evaluate exactly what that means for the Blueshirts. Whether it’s Kaapo Kakko (most likely) or Jack Hughes (only if the Devils are risk takers), the Rangers will be getting a franchise altering prospect. It makes you wonder if, and how, Jeff Gorton’s plans may change.

What likely changes

1. Before the Rangers moved up, they were set to draft #6 overall. With the signing of Jake Elmer earlier, it was a strong possibility that the Rangers were targeting Elmer’s teammate Dylan Cozens. Cozens is somewhere between #3-#7 in the prospect rankings, depending on who you ask, but he is a clear and steep step down from Kakko or Hughes. Suffice it to say, the Rangers will not be targeting Cozens anymore.

2. Larry Brooks mentioned that the Rangers are likely targeting Artemi Panarin and a return for Kevin Hayes. This, of course, came before the Rangers were set to grab an elite talent capable of playing next season. With Kappo sliding into the lineup right away, it is likely the Rangers pick one or the other of Panarin/Hayes, and use the remainder of their $20 million in cap space elsewhere.

3. Which brings me to the blue line. Yes, I keep pining on Erik Karlsson. He makes the team instantly better, and there is no denying that. His type of defenseman ages well. Think Dan Boyle, pre-Rangers, who was in the Norris discussion until he came to New York and couldn’t skate anymore. The concern with Karlsson is the type of deal he will command combined with whether or not his body can hold up. He has foot injury issues. But he almost single-handedly beat the Rangers in the playoffs in 2016 on one foot. If it’s a seven year deal, it could turn ugly in the latter half of the deal. But is the risk worth taking if it gives the Rangers that much more of a chance at a Stanley Cup in the Henrik Lundqvist era?

4. With or without Karlsson, the Rangers still have massive issues on the blue line. Is Jeff Gorton more willing to trade from his glut of wingers to address this? Is he more willing to use his other guaranteed 1st rounder from Winnipeg to address this immediately? Does it make him more likely to send a mid-round pick to Carolina for the pleasure of having Adam Fox one year earlier than intended? This goes back to point #3, if it makes the Rangers more likely to win a Cup in the Lundqvist era, I can’t see Gorton passing on that opportunity. The Blueshirts have made five first round picks the last two years, and now have the #2 overall. That likely creates a need to address the hole in the middle of the canoe that is the Rangers.

What doesn’t change

1. Sticking with the draft picks, the Rangers have at least two 1st rounders right now, and may get two more depending on how Dallas and Tampa do. Even if the Rangers hit on one or both, they were always likely to use these picks and the Winnipeg picks to accelerate the rebuild. What that means, exactly, has yet to be seen. But I’m sure we will see soon enough.

2. The glut of middle/bottom six forwards is certainly a good problem to have. It gives the Rangers depth, and there’s nothing wrong with a 4th line consisting of these middle/bottom six guys like Jimmy Vesey, Vlad Namestnikov, and Ryan Strome. Kakko or not, if Gorton is looking for a shrewd way to upgrade the blue line, then one of this trio was likely to be the odd-man out. There are questions about Kreider, but I’m of the belief that if the Blueshirts were going to move him, they would have done so already, much like they did with Ryan McDonagh.

3. Whatever happened with the lottery, the goaltending situation was likely never going to change. Henrik Lundqvist and Alex Georgiev will more than likely be the tandem in net. Igor Shestyorkin, quoted recently stating that it would be foolish of him to demand an NHL spot and a KHL-out clause in his contract, will likely be in Hartford.

4. Coaching changes likely weren’t going to happen, although they should (see: Ruff, Lindy), and this isn’t going to change anything. Expect the same coaching staff, for better or for worse.

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  • Of course the 2nd pick changes Gortons thinking and his plans moving forward but that is a good thing, right?
    The goaltending should be the same for now but that is also ok. The Rangers goaltending wasn’t their largest problem. Building a strong back end will be the most efficient way to fix the current goaltending. Also Shestyorkin is said to be the best young goalie in the KHL and looks like he may be another stud netminder. With Georgiev, the Rangers May have a solid young goaltending tandem for a long time. Or a trade chip to help build going forward.
    I hope they don’t go after Karlsson. He’s a great player but having his contact on the books will make it that much more difficult to build under the salary cap. It’s tougher to win with one good or great Dman and 5 scrubs. I’d rather see Gorton continue to build a young speedy back end with kids. If a free agent comes along that makes sense so be it. I’d rather have talent spread out around a 6 man back end with depth.
    Stay the course. Don’t get impatient and blow the progress made.

  • Dave, Dave, Dave! The second pick in the draft has driven you to suddenly wish for quick fixes of the kind that buried the Rangers for years. Karlsson? No, hell no please no. The Rangers would definitely regret having his contract on the books half way through it and it is NOT an acceptable risk.

    Panarin, I am against going for too as I went on about at length yesterday, but it is not a hell no.

    I would like them to stick to Gorton’s plan as much as possible. If they go for a defensemen then they need to go for a much younger player who has great skills to help at the blue line.

    Finally, as much as I love Hank, this is not about getting a cup while he is still with the club. It is about building the club for the next 7 years or so.

    • Peter, I could not agree more, except I will also add a “Hell No” to Panarin. I agree, Dave is jumping the shark on this one. He is all giddy over #2. #2 will not make the Rangers contenders next year. Stay the course Mr. Gorton, you are on the right path. As for Hank, I love him and wish he could have the Cup, but it will have to be with the kids playing out of their minds, not with Panarin and, god forbid, Karlsson.

  • The top two pick will take 1 year off the rebuild. That’s it. It’s not time to shoot for the moon.

    With garbage contracts in Staalled smith shatteredkirk and king 4 or more. Going after karlsson is a bad idea.

    You gotta move some of those people out and go all out.

  • As my friend Peter stated about Karlsson, please run as far, and fast away from the guy, he isn’t worth the time, or cost associated in getting someone who will be a buy out target in a few years due to injuries, lack of production, and inability to play a lick of defense. People please keep in mind that Dan Girardi is still costing us some $3.5 million in cap space, and will for another four years, we have to learn from previous mistakes.

    I’m in the camp that JG has done a great job so far with the rebuild, stay the course the future looks exciting, and super bright. If any move is made to improve the defense, talk to the Jets, they have our cure. With so much young talent in the system on defense, why give away the shop for once again, instant gratification? Jake Trouba would be worth attempting to trade for, but again, not at the expense of the store.

    As for our pick, my preference would be Kakko, even if I had a shot at Hughes. The kid is big, has played with men as a 17 year old, is strong on the boards, and has soft hands. What more can we ask for? With the second pick (Jets) that we have in the first round, I’d go after the best available player, forward or defense, and keep stockpiling assets. For once in my memory we are building with youth, skill, speed, why revert back to old habits?????????

  • It’s flawed to think that Hank is the (playoff) goalie he was 4 or 5 years ago. Expediting this rebuild for his final hurrah would be a big mistake, IMO.

  • The quick answer is NO. It shouldn’t alter his plans, it should only enhance the plan that was in place. I have to agree with most of the other posters that say “stay the course”, remain patient and trust the plan that was put in place over a year ago. Karlsson, as beautiful a player as he is when he’s playing, is a TRAP. Panarin, if not for the circa $11m price tag is a more interesting add on — but at circa $11m is a TRAP, unless there’s a way to effectively (i.e., no buyouts) unload Staal, Smith and/or Shattenkirk before their expiration dates 2 years from now.

  • I’m starting to question if they should sign Panarin. I’m leaning more towards signing Hayes and extending Kreider. That gives you the following top six:


    I’m not entirely sold on Chytil at center. And yes it’s waaaayyyy to early to make that call. This also allows Kravtsov to play on the third line against weaker competition.

    Hayes and a Kreider extension will have a very comparable cap hit to just Panarin. This then leaves money for them to pour in to the defense. They have Miller and a handful of other decent prospects who are still a couple seasons away from making an impact. They still lack a stud defenseman. This is where that extra cap hit comes in to play. I would even use one of their remaining 1st round picks if it allowed them to acquire a true top pairing defenseman.

  • Kappo expedites the rebuild by being a great asset. But even if this team makes the playoffs it’s hard to see them winning. You will have maybe 5 rookies Kappo, Kravtsov, Rykov? Fox? Igor? And 3 second year players Chytil, Andersson and Howden. And Hajek with a few games under his belt. They need to adjust to the NHL, the 82 game schedule etc. then the play offs as well. It’s an unrealistic expectation.

    Hard pass on Karlsson. The cost for Fox won’t be as bad as the Karlsson contract.i am also fine waiting one more season for Fox if the price is too high now. Fox is the future Karlsson is the past. We can’t put a priority on winning for Hank. He’s probably not going to win as a Ranger, and I’m sorry for that, but that idea should not derail the rebuild. We’ve made great progress so far and our future looks very bright. We have a lot of flexibility and now need to exercise patience.

    I am beginning to think of they sign Panarin they will trade Kreider and something for a top D man like Trouba.

  • Why do we think we will do better than last year with the coach that gave us a lottery pick? We had players like Hays and Zucc, Kreider, Buch, Zbad, Chytel and others and could not play well. So we get a shiny new rookie and you think it will make a difference from a player like Hays who was getting lots of points and having a career year? You think the players are going to play harder next year then was played this year?
    Haters can’t get past your hate for me but I ask you to think. The college coach was pitiful and yet he gets praises for supposed good job of teaching. Teaching what? How to lose?
    If you had to spend millions on a team would you spend it on losing? Did the coach put his team in a position to win? Or do you blame the players. The players that he was coaching just was not good enough? All those players above was not good enough?
    So you still don’t believe the examples and coaching mistakes this year, will not translate to repeated bad judgement for next year.
    Why did they get rid of AV if they thought next year he will be better and not make the same mistakes from the previous year?

      • Not a fan of losers. You seem to be. Who are you? do you own this site? Do you represent the Rangers? Are you the leader of this group? Are you happy being a follower? Have you ever said anything that states the truth. Are you happy licking AV’s Ass?
        You could not answer any of my questions above so you answer like a child. Are you so unintelligent that you can’t answer any of the question. What Does the S stand for ?
        So because I think the coach sucks and point out the reasons why, that makes me a Devils/Islander fan.
        Do you think Rangers fans have no reason to skeptical of the coach and his record?
        Your right I should not ask such questions to some who is not interested in the truth.

    • Your recent posts talked about the coach was so bad that he couldn’t even tank right. Now you complain that he never put his team in a position to win. Doesn’t that mean he was the reason the team lost? But he was bad at losing. I’m so confused!

      Then you add this whopper to your nonsensical rhetoric: “We had players like Hayes and could not play well. Now you get a new rookie and you think it will make a difference from a player like Hayes who was having a career year.” It only took you 1.5 run on sentences to contradict your own point.

      Dude do you throw back a couple beers before you post on here? Honestly I would rather you stick around than leave. Your posts are so ass backwards and contradictory that it’s like watching a train wreck. It’s awful but you can’t turn away. Thank your providing me a little bit of comic relief on this weekend of Rangerless playoff hockey that saw both the Bolts end up 0-2 as well as the fish sticks going to Pittsburgh up 2-0.

      • Its complicated. I see you can’t follow. All the players I mention are great players and if you swap a new rookie and replace Hays, you will still have a losing team because the coach sucks. “So we get a shiny new rookie and you think it will make a difference from a player like Hays who was getting lots of points and having a career year?”
        So even with great players the team sucked.
        Let me explain an other item,”Why do we think we will do better than last year with the coach that gave us a lottery pick? We had players like Hays and Zucc, Kreider, Buch, Zbad, Chytel and others and could not play well.’
        I believe the players played well, but was put in a situation to lose. Example Fast on the 3rd line or 2nd line and Buch on the 4th line. The coach playing hurt players.
        I don’t mind being entertainment. Do you think your poop does not stink?
        I was right about AV, Tanner Glass, Fasth, and DQ. DQ will take a little while before its proven. Who else mention that Fast was playing like shit? Let me answer that! NO one! Thats entertainment.

        • Ok so you harp on the Fast situation. So let’s break that one down. The Rangers have a medical staff that is headed up by Jim Ramsey, possibly the most respected medical professional in American hockey. So keeping that in mind, Fast has an injury. He can either play through it or have surgery. For this scenario the medical staff has to decide 2 things. 1) will it heal if he keeps playing and 2) will he further injure himself if he keeps playing. So ultimately Fast played through most of the season save for the last couple of games. So this tells me the medical staff concluded he at the minimum wouldn’t aggravate the injury more by playing.

          Keep in mind I said “the medical staff decided”. You seem fixated on the coach being the end all be all decision maker when it comes to a players health. So now take in to account your view on the situation. This leave 2 scenarios. 1) the medical staff ruled that Fast should not play and DQ deliberately defied them. This also means that probably the most respected trainer in American Hockey Jim Ramsey was pushed to the wayside while his professional opinion was ignored 2) the medical staff is inadequate and falsely deemed the injury something that wouldn’t be further aggravated by playing. This means it wasn’t DQs decision.

          So please tell me. Was it DQ deliberately ignoring the teams medical staff and forcing Fast to play?

          And finally. You said the players played well but were put in a position to lose. Didn’t you complain in your last nonsensical post that DQ couldn’t even tank right?

          I’m not even showing my hand on whether I’m in full support of DQ. Your just so fascinating in your logic!

  • Yes. We need defense……as in DEFENSE. You want to bring in a 29 year old, injury prone offensive defenseman? How does that compute? This is the same board that rags on Staal for being a statue. Karlsson is absolutely lost on D.

  • No Karlsson, no Hayes. No no no thank you
    Panarin is a maybe. But not at 11 million plus a season.
    Trades/ and other minor signings could be made to round out the forwards and defense with the money saved by not signing the Breadman.
    I’d rather sign Duchene and Dzingel – that’ll cost just about the same as 1 Breadman. And add just as many points produced. But it might not be necessary either.
    As for Hughes it Kakko. Great, but not franchise changing. Not generational. Kakko is compared to Barkov – well it took barkov the better part of 3 seasons to be the impact player expected. This draft year is weak. Terribly weak. After pick 2, then after pick 6… then the draft is over. Might as well just end the first round at the 10th pick because most of the remaining players wouldn’t make the 1st round in any other draft year. That’s my well read scouting report reading hobby opinion.
    But opinions are like… (get creative with the finishing of that phrase)

    Jeff staying the coarse is an odd comment to make.
    We all have a general idea of the coarse of action, but very little in confirmation of its exact direction step by step. That’s because Jeffie Poo isn’t going to tip his hat to his fellow GM’s. Not even to inform his fans.
    Kakko or Hughes at best, only give Jeff more positive and possible options. Literally nothing more.

  • 1: Hank ain’t winning a Cup with the Rangers and the team owes him nothing but money.

    The quicker this sinks in, the better off you will be mentally.

  • Serious question: Who is the better defenseman today, Erik Karlsson or Marc Staal? Before you answer quickly note that with an extra 25 games of Joe Thornton, great progress in the development of Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, and 53 games of Karlsson, San Jose leaped from 100 points last year to 101 points this year. My sister is an ardent Sharks fan and can’t wait to see the last of him. Granted, Staal does not deserve his salary, but then again, neither does Karlsson deserve Staal’s salary.

    We can make fun of Ranger management for the shiny new toys they brought in in the past, but generally speaking, the fans embraced those shiny new toys at the time. The Karlsson thing is just more of this thinking.

    Kakko changes things a little, but the Ranger situation is still what it was – and bears no resemblance to the conventional wisdom here. The Rangers will remain thin at forward even if things turn out well. OTOH, they have a wealth of prospects on defense. The question is how good will Skjei, DeAngelo, Pionk, Hajek, Lindgren, Rykov, Day, Miller, Lundqvist, etc. be? In a good rebuild, you need to figure this out before you commit huge resources to finding established defensemen.

    Even now, before the kids are ready, the Ranger defense corps is not that bad. The median GAA among the 31 NHL tenders who played the most regularly was 2.77; Georgiev was 2.91. The Ranger forward group is poor defensively and explains a lot of that differential. In the end, the Ranger defense is already close to average.

    • Honestly I think Jones has been the difference, in a bad way. Karlsson is clearly better than Staal — although I’m certainly not advocating his signing, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. That said I would drive Staal or Shattenkirk to the airport if the Rangers could trade either, even retaining 50% of their salary. At least Smith has proven he could be useful in some capacity other than sitting in the press box for 82 games.

  • ” The Rangers have to make a choice between Panarin or Hayes ”
    Please…Hayes is not even in Panarin’s league, nor Kreider. I hope you fans here, lots of them that I have great respect to, fully understand the meaning of ‘ELITE’. Panarin is a constant 80 point player like…John Tavares, Hayes and Kreider both are not even close. Plus, Panarin has a great right-hand shot, which is what the Rangers desperately needed.

    Please No Karlsson, he is very expensive and when the NYR is going to be very good in a few years, fingers crossed, Karlsson will be too old. Don’t forget Karlsson has a lot of mileage on his legs.

    It may take another year to gather all the talents the NYR need, and 2020 draft is even a better draft class than 2019.

    • Here’s the thing though, if the Bolts aren’t going to win the SC then it’s best they get knocked out right away.

      • Can’t say enough about the coaching job Torts has done, they were down 3 goals in the first period of first game and came back to beat bolts 4:3 and then they completely dominated Bolts in game 2, 5:1.

  • Gorton stated that he is not going to take shortcuts…….The Rangers will stay the course and continue to build the foundation….Forget Karlsson and forget Panarin, who probably with Bobo will go to Florida…….We will draft Kakko and hope to land a sleeper later on in the first round….

      • People just look at Kreider’s raw numbers but they forget to add a few intangibles into the equation like 1) he’s a great example and a specimen physically, and 2) he does the dirty work on the PP and that doesn’t always translate into a point. I mean how many times has Kreider screened a goalie when a PP goal gets scored?

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