Seventh Annual New York Rangers Top 25 Under 25: Numbers 25-20

After covering yesterday’s honorable mentions, the often imitated but never duplicated New York Rangers Top 25 Under 25 begins with numbers 25-13.  To recap, the ground rules for this list are simple: To qualify for this list, a player must be under 25 years old. It doesn’t matter if this player is in the NHL, AHL, or in any of the leagues around the world. If they are Ranger property and under 25, they were considered.

Reviewing who we’ve covered already:

Aged Out (3): Jacob Trouba, Boo NievesBrady Skjei
No longer with the Rangers (5): Neal Pionk, Michael Lindqvist, Patrik Virta, Brandon Halverson, Dominik Lakatos
Honorable Mentions (6): Ty Ronning, Tim Gettinger, Ville Meskanen, Vinni Lettieri, Ryan Lindgren, Olof Lindbom

25. Tyler Wall – Goalie, 2016 6th round pick (LY: 24)

As I mentioned with Lindbom yesterday, goalies are voodoo and almost impossible to predict success. Outside of Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers have a good amount of promising prospects, but none that are on that same level. Wall had solid numbers last season with UMass-Lowell, putting up a 2.09 GAA and a .921 SV%, his junior year. He will return next season for his senior year, and then it is likely he gets a contract with the Rangers following the NCAA season. Wall made the cut over Lindbom because his numbers were better, albeit in a different league. Again, goalies are voodoo.

24. Sean Day – Defense, 2016 3rd round pick (LY: 18)

Day drops again for the second third straight year, going from 10th two years ago to 24th this year. It seems like Day has been in the system forever, but he’s still just 21 years old, and last year was just his first pro season. Crazy, right? Day started the year in the ECHL before spending 46 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack to close out the season. He finished with a line of 3-11-14. Day barely made the cut over Lindgren, and it’s because I have a hard time getting past his exceptional status from a while ago. I admit I’m a bit biased here, but I’m optimistic that he will hold down a big role with an improved Hartford club and perhaps get a call up this season. Even though it is just his second season with the Pack, I get the feeling that time is running out for Day. The Blueshirts just have too many other big defense prospects coming through.

23. Adam Huska – Goalie, 2015 7th round pick (LY: 15)

Huska drops eight spots, but as with most of the prospects on this list, it is not because of poor play. There were just too many solid prospects added to the pool since last year’s rankings. Huska gets the slight nod over Wall because the Rangers have already given him an ELC after his junior year, and he will play in Hartford next season. His numbers at UConn took a dip in his final year, but UConn was terrible. His numbers with Hartford weren’t that good either, but Hartford was terrible too. Brandon Halverson aside, the Blueshirts have done a good job with finding goaltenders, so I’m trusting the organization here. Clearly they value him and see potential.

22. Leevi Aaltonen – Forward, 2019 5th round pick (LY: NR)

Aaltonen is the first new player on the list, and boy did I love this pick when the Rangers made it. Aaltonen is a pure skater, and one of the fastest players in the draft.

Aaltonen put up 12-24-36 in 29 games in Jr. A in Finland, and has been a top performer in his bracket, playing above his age range. He plays in all situations, and should remind us of Carl Hagelin. It’s a good comparison, as Aaltonen’s individual skill, like Hagelin’s, is the knock on his game. Even with bad hands, his speed will carry him through the next levels.

21. Zac Jones – Defense, 2019 3rd round pick (LY: NR)

Clearly I liked the 2019 draft. Jones just recently made the first cut for the USA World Junior Summer Showcase, which surprised some people:

Jones is a swing for the fences kind of pick, with loads of skill and speed, especially backwards, apparently. He put up a whopping 7-45-52 in 56 games in the USHL last season. The concern during the draft was his ability to defend, but clearly that wasn’t a problem during the showcase. Jones is a guy that could rocket up these rankings very quickly.

20. Joey Keane – Defense, 2018 3rd round pick (LY: 20)

The fact that Keane stayed in his 20th spot is impressive. Already signed to his ELC, Keane was seen as a sleeper pick across the board. He’s very well rounded, a great skater, and does all the little things well. He split his time with Barrie and London last season, putting together a season long line of 8-31-39 in 66 games, with 5 assists in 11 games in the playoffs. Keane isn’t spectacular in any one category, but he isn’t bad in any one category either. He’s just all around solid, and you need players like that.


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          • Reen

            The game I saw him play he looked good, was willing to use his body, and made some very nice defensive plays. Pionk never did either in my opinion. We have to disagree on this may friend!!!!!!!!

          • You expect them to do that at the AHL level and look like they weren’t even trying. He was below that when I saw him in HFD, was miles away on Broadway.

          • Could Lindgren be the exact opposite of Pionk? If we could combine them they would be a complete player!

    • I think Keane got a bit of a raw deal last year. Traded to London so they could get his kid brother to sign, out as 2nd pair in a stacked lineup, still punched above his weight.

  • Depending on a lot of factors that have nothing to do with the player, I can see Day getting NGL games over the next 2 years just so they can expose him in the expansion draft(although ADA can be that guy much easier if not dealt.)

    I keep on hearing that Day is dumber than a sack of hammers; but when I see him play, it’s not showing.
    When he was sent down to Maine he tore it up and when he came back up he was producing and playing better than he had since Windsor.

    Maybe the coaches were dummies.

    He has the size, he has the skating, he’s shown that he can play D and he shows enough skill going forward to be a NHL defender. He’s the modern defender, but in an old school frame. As a bottom 4 D, I’ll take him against all the smurfs.

    Whether that happens here or somewhere else is the question.

    Aaltonen? He might as well not have thumbs his hands are so bad. Skating is great, but he doesn’t even have AHL hands. I doubt he ever comes over, but if he does, it’ll be s one and done in Hartford.

    I got time for Keane, this year will be interesting for him.

    • Aaltonen is a curious case. He could be a great bottom six–speed kills guy. Or he could be an AHLer. With the exception of Skinner, I really like all of the Rangers’ picks from 2018. I am so glad they actually picked Kakko and din’t go off the board and try to outsmart everyone by using the number 2 to pick Broberg or Turcotte.

      • Aaltonen didn’t make the Finland summer showcase squad. Not that you would expect a 5th rounder to make it, but not an encouraging start.

  • I am excited to see if Adam Edstrom ever makes it to the NHL as a bottom six forward. He is a great playoff get–if he pans out. Big, can skate well and plays physical. Fingers crossed. Curious about Elmer as well–hope not too high as there have been too many promising free-agent signings that didn’t pan out. For every Zuc or Girardi the seems to be a caravan of Michael Lindqvists, Malte Stromwells and Danny Kristos who make you think–maybe the Rangers outsmarted everyone with this signing. But it ends up they don’t.

    As for Day–if he has a good season and starts a positive trajectory he is light years beyond Lindgren. Day could top off as a second pairing guy–if… Where I see Lindgren’s potential as a 7th d-man on a good NHL team.

    • Stromwall led the Liiga in scoring last year: so score another development victory for the old coaching staff in HFD.

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