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).