Mailbag: What if the Rangers had the top pick? Next captain?

Two questions for the mailbag this week. As always, use the widget on the right to submit your questions to be answered.

Joe S asks: If the Rangers had the top pick this year, who would you select?

This is a tough question. Jack Hughes has the higher ceiling, and centers are more valuable than wingers. Kaapo Kakko is an elite winger who has already shown he can play at an elite level against grown men at just 17 years old. Kakko has a bit more of an NHL body — size doesn’t really matter, but it’s worth noting that Kakko is an elite skater and is also an NHL size already — and is also a big riser, at least in contending for the top pick.

That last bit is worth noting, since Hughes has been the clear cut #1 pick for over a year now. Kakko closing the gap this much, and this quickly, shouldn’t be overlooked. Regardless of that though, Hughes is still the #1 pick. Even if it’s just because he’s the center and Kakko is the winger.

Steffen asks: I heard that Chris Kreider could be the next captain? What are the pros/cons of this? Is there anyone else that could be the captain?

Kreider is the obvious choice, however that is wholly dependent on his contract situation. If the Rangers re-sign him, then he is the longest tenured Rangers forward, a top line player, a playoff performer, a clutch scorer, and a fan favorite. That checks off all the boxes. He also speaks Russian, which is big considering who is coming overseas this season. The cons here are that his next contract may look bad as he gets older. It’s a risk.

Mika Zibanejad is the other favorite. He’s young. He’s energetic. He scores. He’s the 1C. That’s a lot too. The question here is, does he have the room? I can’t answer that. Kreider appears to have it, but again I don’t know. If Zibanejad has the room, then he’s a solid answer.

That’s honestly it for potential captain candidates. Jesper Fast is a dark horse, but I can’t see the Rangers committing to a bottom-six player long enough now for him to be named captain. Marc Staal is the longest tenured Rangers skater, but his future is up in the air. Makes you wonder what could have been if he had two eyes.

Bonus Question for you all!

The projected contract for Mats Zuccarello is four years at $6.2 million per season. This comes from Matt Cane, who has basically nailed all the contracts being handed out, plus or minus 10%. His contract valuations are gospel at this point.

Given that information, would you rather have Dallas’ 2nd this year, 3rd next year, and Zuccarello at that contract? Or would you prefer Dallas’ 2nd this year, 1st next year, and no Zuccarello? Must choose one or the other here (I’m aware there are other scenarios).

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  • Kakko isn’t an elite skater, but can turn on a dime and has an explosive 1st step to create space.

    Sign Kreider and put the C on him. Kreider is an elite skater, but could learn a lot from Kakko(like stick down when net front.)

    Pass on Zucc. Love him, but he’s yesterday’s news.

      • I understand his train of thought most of the time, when we disagree it’s mostly shades of grey as I’ll have more live looks at a Euro player mid season rather than early/late tournaments or video.

  • Kapo, he is what the Rangers need, a goal scorer.

    Zib (I changed from Kreider)

    No way on Zuc, love him, but no way.

  • I’m in the camp of not signing Zucc and hope he signs with Dallas. I have always thought, and still do think, high draft picks are extremely important to any Organization, especially ones who are rebuilding. Next year’s draft is another good one, thus another first round pick would be a nice addition. Zucc has always been one of my favorite players, but we have moved on and should stay that course.

    • Jerry

      Spot on with your post, agree 100%, even as much as I love Zucc.

      I find it comical that for years everyone traded their #1 picks, and now their collective eyes are open, and they see the value of those picks. I’m elated that JG has the mind set of keeping those picks!!!!!!!

  • I’m thinking I would pick Hughes..but I’m still crazy about Kakko.

    Mika will be the next captain. I believe Kreider gets moved at the draft

    Love for Zucc is through the roof. But at that cap hit no way. I just hope he signs in Dallas, but I have a strange feeling he ends up back in the metro..

  • Looking at the projected contract for Zucc, there are four things against Zucc….
    Salary caps
    Expansion draft (he’ll prob. want a mod. NMC)
    His age
    His size

    With that said I would give him 3 years at 5.5 per … especially if wants to come back here.

    • First – lets give Gorts some love for coming up with the conditions related to the Zucc trade.

      Who woulda thunk that the Stars would get into the semis and have to surrender a 1st for Zucc? Obviously it did not happen but not by much.

      Zucc has been a great fit for the Stars and now if they want to sign him they have to give a different 1st. Tough choices – good job Gorts.

      For me – I am in the minority but I would love to see Zucc back here on an affordable 3 yr deal but I realize it is not going to happen. His play with Dallas was noticed league-wide and he has earned himself a well-deserved payday.

  • Like just about everyone, I love Zuccarello and miss being able to see him play. But Mats will be 32 when next season begins. A four year, $6 million+ contract is too rich and he is too old.

    I don’t see Krieder being traded and I believe that he is already acting much like the captain of the team. He should be the next one with Zibanejad being the next logical alternative choice.

  • Hughes is the clear number 1. Kakko is a great consolation prize.
    Krieder doesn’t need another excuse (the “C”) to put additional pressure on himself.

    I love Zuuc, but if we are serious about a rebuild, then he stays off of our roster. Let’s hope Dallas re-signs him

  • Bye Zuuuucccc. We will all miss him and his play too, but this is a train that’s gotta keep rolling…

    next years 1st rounder please, thats a hull in itself for Mats…

    I will lose my voice every time he plays in theGarden though, along with so many!!!!


    JD coming over? WHAAAAT

    is he picking up the bread?


      • Good morning Gents….I also have to pass on Zucs…..Love him, but we are going in a different direction…I do not see many shortcuts as leadership has stated…..What leadership is trying to do is shed salaries and veterans…namely Smith, Staal and Shattenkirk…….The prayer is that both Smith and Shattenkirk play well and then moved at some point……I have to trust the plan….

  • This is Mika’s team for the foreseeable future, he should get the C.

    Hughes because if you don’t and he becomes a great little player you will always be criticized for not having taken him. He’s the consensus #1 and his downside is negligible.

    I’ll take the 1st rounder next year thank you. Sorry Zucc.

    • Ziba is a scorer and a nice guy, but a leader of men? No.

      Seen enough interviews where he never projects cock of the walk. Better to leave the A’s in place than to give him the C

      • Disagree … he is both loved and feared. 😉

        Behind closed doors he has quite the temper — but in all seriousness, he’s not a Messier but he’s respected and loved by his teammates and leads through example on the ice. There’s no one else for the job unless Kreider is extended.

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