Friday thoughts as we approach the draft

We are officially in the calm before the storm for the Rangers, as the June draft will be the next step in the rebuild. As usual, I have some thoughts.

1. The Rangers are probably in the best spot in the draft. It’s either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, but the Rangers don’t need to choose. The Devils do. The Rangers just need to take the one that the Devils don’t take. It’s quite easy actually. Of course they could galaxy brain this and go off the board, but I don’t think the Blueshirts are that dumb.

2. There are a lot of arguments for packaging some picks together to move into the low-teens in the draft. HockeyStatMiner is the one pulling all these hypotheticals together, and he’s doing a great job doing it. The basic premise is the Rangers can move to around the 11-15 range with the 20 pick and a 2nd round pick packaged together. It looks like this draft is about 9 players in the same class, which is below the Kakko/Hughes class. Then it’s about the same level of player through the next 10 picks. If the Rangers eye someone, or someone slips, this could be a realistic scenario.

3. There is also a good amount of chatter about taking on a bad contract in exchange for another asset. This bad contract player wouldn’t be a significant player for the Blueshirts, and the value is in the other asset, not the player being acquired. Ryan Callahan comes to mind here, as Tampa is in a precarious spot here. The Blueshirts have a ton of cap space and can take on Cally’s one year, $5.8 million cap hit. The issue is roster space and if he would block a kid who is part of the future. If the asset the Rangers take is, say, Cally and TB’s 1st this year for a 2nd round pick, it’s a 30 pick move in the draft. That’s significant. That’s a hypothetical, but something like that could help. That said, the Rangers had a better opportunity to do that last year and didn’t. I doubt they do it this year when they are on record saying they want to accelerate the rebuild. That’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re looking to spend the money on Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, or Erik Karlsson.

4. In regards to those free agents, Duchene is the player that fits the immediate need of a center. He’d either be the 2C or push Mika Zibanejad to the 2C. The issue will always be term. He’s 28 now, and would be 35 if he gets that max length contract. Will he hold up? The last couple years of that deal might be rough, and those years could be the years the Rangers are really looking to stay on top. It’s a matter of when the Rangers think they can truly compete for a Cup, not just a playoff spot.

5. A lot is being made about Kakko skipping the draft combine. The kid just won gold in the Worlds and was a major impact player for Finland during their run. The kid has shown everything he needs to. It does not mean anything about his work ethic, which is phenomenal, or attitude, which is also phenomenal. Let the kid be an 18 year old. Once September rolls around, he won’t be able to anymore.

6. I am very interested in how the Rangers address their blue line logjam this offseason. It’s not as simple as trade Shatty/Smith/Staal/Pionk. There needs to be a taker. It needs to make sense for the Rangers and their direction. It also needs to make sense from an organizational development standpoint, ensuring there are bodies to take the big minutes while kids develop. Pionk was thrown to the wolves when he shouldn’t have been. Let’s learn from that mistake.

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  1. You will know if things have changed if Jeff Gorton comes to the mic and makes the pick. Next stop on the Calendar is buyout city. Keep your picks and take the BPA

  2. Regarding Duchene, one is reminded of the age-old NFL draft saying: Choose the best player available, do not choose for need at a given position. Yes Duchene is a center, but he is not in Panarin’s league as a talent, especially looking forward in time. So if the NYR do splurge in the free agent market, and I’m not advising that they should, signing this center instead of that winger would be a colossal blunder.

  3. I like the idea of Duchene. plays both center and rw. But we have so many centers. and so many LD players and prospects.
    I like to see the defense be completely overhauled, but not for the general concept of “playing the kids”, as we already know DQ will not be following that terrible idea.

    There will be issues on the Right side with two rookie wingers in Kravstov and Kakko. I don’t see either playing all 82 games. I don’t think they’ll combined for 82 games played. It’s possible, sure. extremely unrealistic and unlikely.

    So, perhaps as the second evaluation period begins, with a fresh crop of 4-5 rookies full expected to be carried throughout the season, signing no one is the best option.

    1. I agree almost 100%, but I do think Kakko plays all 82 games (injury is always a risk for anyone, though). He’s got the size and muscle already. Kravstov still has to fill out a bit (and can play either side), I think, and Hughes (if we get him) needs to bulk up a bit.

  4. Panarin or Duchene could be decide by Hughes or Kakko. We get Hughes no need for Duchene, we get Kakko, we could use Panarin, but committing to Duchene makes more sense from positional need.

    I keep hearing we will get the other guy, the guy the Devils don’t want. How motivational is that going to be for the player we get? No matter who it is they will have something more to prove. And I love that.

    I would pursue trading up in the draft. I am fine with packing a second or some depth players. When we get to the second and/or third round I won’t be surprised to see any combination of Strome, Namestnikov, Vesey, Smith etc. moved for picks. We need to clear out some of these guys as well as some D men.

    I can’t see us taking a bad contract without giving one. And we have a few to give. You folks have mentioned Mathieu Perreault from Winnipeg. Maybe Kreider and Shatty (with say $2.6Mill salary retained) for Trouba and Perreault? Not saying the Jets would do this but if we take a bad contract I would see it being in a deal like this. If we did this we would need to chase Panarin.

  5. IMHO, the Rangers need a big upgrade on defense more than they need more scoring (especially with the players coming in: Kakko or Hughes, and Kravstov). There only seems to be one top D-man available in the draft (Byram) and he’ll probably be gone by #20, and the only attractive free agent D to me is Trouba. (Karlsson = too old, too expensive, too fragile). As for offense, I’m thinking Skinner is more likely than Panarin (that tax free money in sunny Florida is hard to resist).

  6. You’re either committed to the future and the rebuild or you’re not. I see a lot of NOT here. If a deal doesn’t work for you 4-5 years down the line, PASS.

  7. The decision for who we get the first time is being made by the Devils. If it’s Hughes they pick, Kakko will be a force to deal with, especially because he will want to prove a point, and play like hell against them.

    With our second first round pick they should get the best player available, hopefully a wing, our biggest need. Will we trade up, and or down, depends on what management thinks is the best route to go, and what players available. I don’t see us going after another d-man early, maybe in the third round, but not before that.

    Addressing our need for a first pair d-man, the Jets are in a tight spot, and need to trade Trouba, or lose him at the end of the season. I would trade with them, but not include Kreider because we are soft on the left wing. Even if they sign the Bread-man, which I’m not advocating for, he will only replace Chris, and we would still need help on the left side. Who can play that side, Lemieux, Vesey, and Strome, not great choices, so I wouldn’t make that move. It’s going to be tricky, but interesting to see how the dust settles!!!!!!!!

    1. Walter I would trade Kreider for Trouba in a heartbeat… But that wont be the case because the Jets really can’t take on money…They have guys with big paydays coming up including Laine

      1. Your right, but that would also create a huge hole on the left wing, which is the point I was trying to make. It gets back to a point I made before Shatty signed here, and Fox being traded for, why give up assets for guys who want to play here in the first place?

        1. Well, in the Fox case, we get him here a year earlier, get hime some experience. I think this deal was well worth the assets.

          1. Joe

            He, Fox, was worth what we gave up, but the names, and number of players being named along with picks is too much for what we can land for free next year. In Troumba’s case, the Jets have no choice but to trade him, and he can stop any trade to markets that he doesn’t want to go to…………I’d trade big time, but I’d refuse to give away the store!!!!!

      2. Easy enough, you send him at half salary and agree to take back Perrault. That way they save about $9+m and bingo bango, they take care of Laine … but I’m against trading Kreider unless absolutely necessary.

        I don’t think they would take it, but Namestnikov, their 1st rounder and a 3rd rounder plus Pionk for Trouba and Perrault … we could even eat half of Namestnikov’s salary. Just day dreaming. lol

  8. Make a blockbuster! Move Krieder and Shatty and a 3rd rounder for a 1st rounder in the top 10.

  9. Acquiring Callahan or a similar player makes a lot of sense. The Rangers are so thin at forward that he would actually be useful and could help allow young players who should be in Hartford actually play in Hartford. And a sensible plan for the Rangers likely would not involve a cap crunch next year and so a one year hit would be painless. Of course, it depends on just what the Rangers get in return. Swapping the natural Ranger second round pick for TB’s first isn’t a very big move in the draft.

  10. I badly want Cole Caufield at 20, but I feel teams have learned from Gaudreau and DeBrinkat, so he’s not going to last much past 10. Hopefully Rangers can trade up for him to 14-16 if he’s still there.

    1. Arthur Kaliyev, at 6’2″, 190lbs, left wing from Staten Islnd is the guy they should go after. The kid tore up the OHL, with over 50 goals, and over 50 assists, he would be perfect to replace Kreider later on, and or could be our second line LW after a couple of years of grooming. Can you see another Kakko with this size, and skill, and can play a decent 200 foot game. Just look at the finals, those are some really big teams out there killing each other, I want the bigger sized skilled players!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Not to put Caufield down, but he is smaller than MSL was……….

      1. Kaliyev could be Kovalev/Semin (ultra skilled, enigmatic player, but ultimately more successful than not) or he could be a washout like Yakupov or Zherdev. Caufield has scored at a historic rate, and there is no question about his drive.
        P.S. Don’t accuse me of anti-Russian bias, I am Russian myself.

        1. Jeff

          I still would take that chance if it presents itself. I think with the right coach, and some tough love it would work, and after all our first #1 pick gives us that luxury of being able to gamble a bit, and that’s from an Italian! LOL, just having some fun my man!!!!!

          1. Valter (the Italian pronunciation of Walter), are you suggesting us Italians don’t like to gamble a bit? I’m going to have to disagree with you on that. lol

        2. Zherdev was somewhat overly maligned. He didn’t have a bad season with us at all and I always thought we just gave up on him (as did the rest of the League). Of course I can’t speak to any off-ice issues he might have had, I’m just going by his play.

          1. Totally agree with you tanto, you seem to understand the game, great comment on Zherdev

        3. Jeff

          Here is a part of a scouting report that may be of interest:

          Kaliyev has immense skill. His ability to score goals is amongst the best in this class. He also has high-end hockey sense, and his playmaking abilities are starting to rival his goal-scoring skills. However, there are also big questions about his effort level and his defensive game. Kaliyev is the classic boom or bust prospect. He could become an elite-level goal scorer, or he could flame out entirely, or land almost anywhere in between. Development will need to be a priority here. In terms of playing style, he is comparable to Alex Kovalev, however, this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.

          Like I post before I’d be willing to draft this kid for all the upside he has. I also believe that with DQ as coach, he could develop this kid into an all around player. Time will tell who we get, but I’d really consider Art.

        4. Zherdev, never got a fair shake in NY,he put up goals and got ran outta town, just like Gaborik, did his last year, I get so tired of you bandwagon guys

      2. Of course the negatives about his ability to play a 200′ game, his skating and his lack of physicality might lead him to DQ’s chateau bow-wow more often than not. I haven’t seen enough of him or know enough about him to echo that sentiment. Caufield on the other hand should be a dynamic little bugger … They both have issues, the question is which issues are going to be easiest to deal with.

  11. Draft the best available athlete or move up if you think you can get another potential star with a lower pick. But, don’t bet the farm on it.

  12. And with the 20th pick of the draft, The NY Rangers select another goalie from Sweden. Stop the Madness! Right after the draft, we get rid of Gordie and ask Gorton and Quinn and JD to make the selections based on positional merit – but no more early picks on goalies!

    I think we will have a roster problem next year if we do not combine some picks for earlier picks. We have a large quantity of D-men in the system without a place to play. Move out the old, and let the kids taste the NHL ice. Go get an NCAA coach to coach our AHL team. Get rid of Lindy and we can all be proud to wear our Sweaters to an NHL playoff game next year!!!!

  13. The only times Zherdev came to play was when a fellow Russian was on ice for the other guys. He clearly had no stomach for the physical nature of the NHL game, and was infinitely more suited to the bigger international ice rinks. Rangers gave him plenty of leash, but it was the same no show nonsense he displayed in Columbus.

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