Seventh Annual New York Rangers Top 25 Under 25: 14-11

Over the week, we’ve been ranking the players that cracked the 7th annual New York Rangers Top 25 Under 25. As I wrote the first post, I realized I wanted to break this down into multiple posts because, for the first time in writing this, I have something to say about each prospect. In the past I grouped similar players together, but now there is so much to be excited for.

As a refresher, 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.

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 RonningTim GettingerVille MeskanenVinni LettieriRyan LindgrenOlof Lindbom
Prior Rankings: 25-20, 19-15

14. Tarmo Reunanen – Defense, 2016 4th round pick (LY: HM)

Reunanen has bounced around a lot in these rankings. He was 23rd in 2017, then he was an honorable mention last year, and now he jumps all the way to #14, by far the biggest mover on the list this year. Reunanen had a breakout season last year in Finland, putting up 6-19-25 in 58 games, leading his team in defensive scoring. The 21 year old wowed a lot of guys that I trust who follow the Euro prospects, and quite honestly that is good enough for me. He signed his three year ELC and will start in Hartford with a completely revamped blue line. Reunanen isn’t really a sleeper, but he’s a guy that might fly under the radar with other big names on the blue line.

13. Libor Hajek – Defense, trade with Tampa Bay (LY: 12)

Hajek surprised everyone when he was called up towards the end of last season and then played a very strong five games. He certainly did not look out of place, despite pedestrian numbers in Hartford, before he separated his shoulder in March. Five games is a very small sample, and his 0-5-5 line in 58 games in Hartford was not overly promising, but still he looked just fine out there. Hajek is penciled in for a 3LD role to start the year with the Rangers, with a clear opportunity to unseat Marc Staal as the 2LD. Next year is, for all intents and purposes, his rookie season, so expect growing pains.

12. Brett Howden – Forward, trade with Tampa Bay (LY: 9)

What a start for Howden last year. What a terrible rest of the year for him. Howden still ranks high, although dropping three spots, because he still has promise. He really needs to improve his play without the puck, and that point streak we saw to start the season should level out and he will hopefully be more consistent. He has the tools, he just needs to put it all together. Let’s see how he rebounds after his rough rookie year.

11. Alex Georgiev – Goalie, undrafted free agent (LY: 10)

What else is there to say about Georgiev? The kid went from UDFA to a time share with the best goaltender of the post-lockout generation. His .914 SV% in front of the worst blue line in the NHL last season just shows how much promise the 23 year old has. He will get more of an even split with Henrik Lundqvist this year, and with an improved right side of the blue line should put up solid numbers. The question isn’t about his talent, it’s about where his future is. He’s certainly nice “insurance” if Igor Shesterkin doesn’t meet the lofty expectations.

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  • I wouldn’t trust your Euro scouts.

    Reunanen got a ton of minutes on a bad Lukko team and he had “decent” point totals where you need to have great numbers to make the jump to the AHL. His numbers put him as a yo-yo between Hartford & Maine.

    It amazes me on how often don’t get how big the jump up is from Europe just to the AHL.

    • If you’re an optimist you might say decent point totals on a bad team means this guy has the “goods”. If you’re not then you say he’s a career minor leaguer. I happen to be an optimist.

      • Put out both hands: let one hand fill up with hope and the other one with baloney.

        Guess which one fills up first.

        Decent points with a ton of minutes puts you as a 7th defenceman in Hartford *if* you’re all they think. He’d have been 8th D for TPS, that’s why they moved him.

        • Being 8th D on TPS would be a decent accomplishment for a 21 year old kid who had a mis-diagnosed, career threatening injury as a 17/18 year old kid. And with seniority, favoritism, and sheer numbers stacked against him he was destined to be a reserve there.

          You may be right that he is a minor leaguer, but your evaluation seems to contrast and contradict other things I’ve been reading. He is still developing as a result of this injury and he is doing well. So, yeah, I’m optimistic that this kid is a least capable of third pairing usage in the NHL.

          • And the other things you read are from people who need to sell the hopium to born and bred dopes.

            Every player is a 1st pair potential/ top 6 guy when every stat going shows that this has no basis in reality, yet they still feed it.

            Just. A. Guy.

          • These are the same people who thought Patrik Virta to be a solid bottom 6 NHLer, have been high on a dozen guys who never made it past the 1st hurdle in Hartford.

  • Of the players listed, I’ll be watching three in particular this season. Hajek will get a great chance to prove his critics wrong by playing a solid defensive role.

    Howden has very good potential, and hopefully won’t hit that rookie wall again. I can see him being moved to the wing if he doesn’t improve his all around game though.

    Georgiev had himself a terrific season last year, and the future looks bright for the kid. If Hank falters during this season, he may see more ice time than the King.

    Let’s start the season already!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hajek’s critics are NEW in that they seem to base their impressions solely on what he did in Hartford — and we all know what a disaster Hartford was last year. I have no doubt that he’s better than that.

  • Did any Ranger fan think that we would have one of the best prospect pools in the league?

    I certainly would never have thought that.

    • 21 players mentioned so far: 7 likely NHLers, 3 possibles.

      Can’t wait for this to finish so I can reverse engineer it into tiers of players like Pronman does.

      • I mean yeah, how great is that?

        And Robertson and Barron, 2 guys that Ranger fans do not think of right away as far as top prospects are concerned, I think will surprise a lot of people down the road.

        • I haven’t met any ranger fan that isn’t excited about Robertson, the type of D-man we all craved since mike sauer and especially after the recent track record of failure with offensive defensemen and power play specialists. a strong guy who can stand up at the blue line, play a shut down defense, handle the puck a bit, and just sounds solid in his own zone and all around? sign me up for sure. plus recency bias of course, just drafted, hasn’t disappointed any of us yet!

          • I guess what I was saying is that Robertson is not flashy but could very well be a top 4 D man at some point.

            He doesn’t have the high ceiling that say K Miller has, nor the high end skills.

          • We now have several of these “… strong guy(s) who can stand up at the blue line, play a shut down defense, handle the puck a bit…” in Robertson, Hajek, Lindgren, and Rykov (I put Miller in a different category, because he can score, too). Hopefully, a couple of them have the stuff to actually make it to the NHL.

    • Thats why its important that they have a strong staff down in Hartford to develop these kids. JD is doing it right – we just need to be patient.

      • 100%, it was definitely a priority of JD’s, to fix Hartford.

        I hope that we just don’t turn into the Flyers.

    • I really like the prospect pool, but let’s not get carried away. In truth, the Rangers only have four players under 25 who have demonstrated that they belong in the NHL (and one of those is Brendan Lemieux). The fact that so many have actually suited for NHL games is more a function of the lack of decent older players than of quality young ones.

      Don’t get me wrong. Kakko, Kravtsov, Chityl, Miller, Fox, Shestyorkin constitute what is by Ranger standards an enormous collection of high ceiling kids, and the pool is very strong, but the roster. desperation of last year is not an indicator.

      • Georgiev and Howden have and will have NHL careers, that isn’t a stretch, that isn’t exaggeration, that isn’t HOPE … same for DeAngelo and Buchnevich. I’m not getting carried away and my statement was MILD in comparison to what some might say.

        • Of course, Georgiev, ADA, and Buch were the three unnamed players in my comment. I would not say Howden has demonstrated that he belongs in the NHL. However, I do expect him to be in the opening day lineup and I expect that decision will be correct. I see him as a successful NHLer in the future.

          My quibble was your pointing out that #11-13 were in the NHL when in fact Howden and Hajek would not have played for most teams last year at least.

          IMO, the most impressive thing about this list is that Ryan Lindgren, a #2 pick who has been in the organization for only a year and actually played in the NHL as well as most mostly first pair defense at Hartford I think, is listed as honorable mention. Now I disagree with Dave here, but his argument is at least credible and it has been a very very long time since one could make a credible argument to leave such a player out of the top 25. Indeed, such a player would be a lock for top 15 in the past and I suspect most organizations.

      • Raymond, your list and Lindqvist, Robertson, Keane, a couple of the guys they drafted after Robertson in this year’s draft, like Zac Jones, all have a legit chance at the NHL.

        That’s very impressive.

  • Richter joked about this earlier, but now I should mention it. Why has Lias Andersson not been mentioned? Yes, he was a top ten draft pick, but that should not get a bad player with a relatively low ceiling into the top ten on this list when the prospect pool is strong. He is far behind eight of your top ten (don’t know much about Nils Lundqvist) and surely he ranks below Georgiev and Hajek. I would put him below a number of others as well, including Lindgren.

    Now a good organization manages all of its assets. Indications suggest that players such as Huska, Day, Meskanen, and Andersson will never be NHL-quality but you develop them anyway in the hope that the indications are wrong (as they were IIRC in the cases of Girardi and Talbot). So the organization should not write off Lias Andersson. But neither does he belong on the roster or on a top ten list.

    To put things in perspective, I would trade him for a second round draft pick, but not for a fourth rounder. not good enough for top ten on this team

    • I don’t buy your assessment of Andersson Ray, at least not yet.

      I think the adjustment to the smaller rink and the rough and tumble of the North American/NHL game was harder on him than people thought it would be. He was very good in Sweden, so I think it might take a little more time for us to see what he can and cannot do. I am not saying that I am sure that he will be a NHL player, but I think that is to be determined.

      • To be fair, I think that the likelihood of NHL success for nearly all of these players is neither 100% nor 0%, but somewhere in between. There are a few exceptions, e.g. Buchnevich, but very few. We seem to agree that Andersson is not one of those exceptions. The difference between myself and many here is that I would perhaps estimate that likelihood at 20% whereas others see it as well above 90%, so certain that the possibility that he won’t succeed is not worth thinking about. I am not sure where you fit in.

        The difference is critical however, as one has to decide what to do with him in the short term. Last year, he was truly awful, but should that be written off as growing pains to be lived with – or acknowledged as something truly hurting the team. The way to teach Kakko, Chityl, DeAngelo, Fox, Hajek how to play in the NHL is to let them play with guys who belong in the NHL and not play them alongside those who are either not ready yet or never will be.

          • That might be true Mikey. The kid has apparently been working hard on his skating. Whether he will improve it enough to stay with the big club is the question.

        • He wasn’t truly AWFUL, geez the hyperbole here is so thick you could cut it with a butter knife Ray. lol You may not see the real Andersson play for another year or two, you have to practice patience with most prospects unless they flat out don’t have any skills (mentally or physically). I saw flashes from Andersson that tell me he can be a real important middle 6 guy down the line — I know that will disappoint some here because he was drafted #7 overall, but I suggest you look at the player without the bias of his draft position — positively or negatively.

          PS: He wasn’t really put into a position to succeed last year, unlike both Howden and Chytil — and I’m not suggesting he earned that position, but that day will come and then we’ll know.

          • Lias scored six points last year. There were exactly six forwards in the league who played more games than him and scored is or fewer points. One of them was former Ranger Michael Haley, giving you a good picture of the sort of player Lias outscored. And his +/- at Hartford was off the charts bad. No, he was truly awful. Sure, he is much better than you or I – and sure, he had good shifts (as did Cody McLeod), but the reason he was not put in a position to succeed is that a good line with him on it was not a possibility. I don’t remember but I suspect you did not jump on him people for calling a far better hockey player (Tanner Glass) awful.

            And cut the crap about draft position. The reason I criticize Andersson more than say Ryan Gropp has nothing to do with draft position and everything to do with his perceived place in the organization. It is others who are looking for that #7 pick to save us and projecting his long term position accordingly.

            When BSBers predict the starting lineup, how many include Andersson and how many include Greg McKegg who scored 11 points in a bottom six role in about the same number of games. Would everyone feel the same way if Andersson were not a high draft pick? I don’t think so.

            Incidentally, I do not want to be overly critical of this draft pick. It was dumb certainly and off the board, but off the board is not necessarily bad. Kravtsov was off the board and looks brilliant. Chityl looked like a brilliant choice, though he has disappointed me so far.

          • Ray … aside from being a yo-yo, his ice time totals in the NHL were paltry and sporadic. That’s particularly bad for guys who aren’t good skaters. Plus the comparison of a 20 year old rookie Swede to a 27 year old Canadian veteran isn’t really a good one.

            Also comparing him to Chytil and/or Howden is dangerous — aside from them both playing circa 25-35 more games than Andersson, they also both got circa 4 minutes more ice time per game and played with MUCH better players … just saying. 😉

        • I am uncertain how to quantify my expectations for Andersson at this time, so let’s say a 50% chance for now, which will be adjusted up or down depending what he shows in the NHL or Hartford this coming season. I’d say the same for Howden because he is a bit older than Andersson, while I’d give Chytl an 85% chance or more because what he is showing at a younger and because of his size. I expect that Chytl will be with the big club and that they might very well bring Howden and Andersson along. But I would not be surprised to see either Andersson or Howden in Hartford to begin the season at least. Those decisions will be fascinating, along with Kakko and Kravtsov’s landing spots. I suspect that both of those wingers will be with the big club.

    • I would not trade Lias, as this is a big year for him and the other young Rangers. My issue with Lias is that with Chytil you can see HIS skills, Lias, not so much. I hope it’s just a young player’s nerves and confidence is all he needs.

      It’s also a big year for the Coach. He gets a big pass for last year, since it was a big hot mess, all around. But not this year. He’s got players, so now he has to deploy them the right way, in the right spots, and in the right system.

      The honeymoon is now officially over.

      • Good analysis and reasoning. So much acrimony when it comes to Lias! I can’t remember any for JT Miller, a former first rounder, that took a few years to get up here. I would not trade him either and any and all evaluations by any commenter on any blog is amateurish and naive. He will be what he will be… and IMO a decent NHLer.

        • I will speak for myself and it is interesting that you brought up JT, but I saw skills in him too, and I believed that he could play well at some point.

          #1, 2017 was not a strong draft, so that was not the year to have a #7 overall pick, so let’s get that out of the way first.
          #2, the Rangers tried like hell to trade up and get Pettersen.
          #3, even the Rangers said that Lias’ skating was not elite, when they drafted him.
          #4, Lias was ranked in the 12-15 range, so this was a slight reach at 7.
          #5, at #7 overall, you better pick a highly skilled prospect, even if they do not work out in the NHL, and looking at the board at that time, I think Middlstat or Tippet fit that criteria better than Lias.
          #6, a #7 overall’s ceiling should be NHL top six forward or top 4 D man. Lias’ ceiling seems to be 3rd line center.

          So the “anger” towards Lias should not be at the player, but at the team for drafting him at #7 overall. That being said, I think that he can play 3rd line consistently at some point, whether it is at C or wing.

          • We def could have salvaged that spot by taking Middlestadt Necas Tippet or Vilardi. How do you take a kid with questionable skating?

          • “How do you take a kid with questionable skating?”

            IDK pal, I really don’t. I view this pick as one of Gordie’s “I’m the smartest person in the room” picks.

          • From the comments from management at the time, I believe that the Rangers made two mistakes. First, they did not appreciate the decline in Ranger fortunes and believed they would contend in 2017-2018; this led them to believe drafting a center who could help them immediately would be a good thing. Second, they believed Lias was near the top of the class in readiness. Hence they were willing to sacrifice some ceiling to get immediate help.

            Hence the Rangers ignored your crucial #6 above to get a ready now center, a commodity neither needed not achieved. In hindsight, Lias should have been a #20 pick – whether he fulfills the promise of a 20 pick remains to be seen.

            Incidentally, I agree that the anger should rarely be directed at the player. There are a few guys like Zherdev who just don’t work to use their talent but typically the fact that a player is not what you have counted on him to be is not his fault.

          • Bingo Raymond, the Rangers picked the guy that they thought would make the team right away.

            That’s it in a nutshell.

          • Hopefully with JD at the helm – we will not be “wandering off the board” in future drafts. Netted a nice haul his time around.

          • In hindsight with the assumption that the Rangers were willing (and I’m guessing) to send the 7th and 21st pick to Vancouver would you rather have Petterson or Chytil plus Andersson?

          • Pettersen, no questions about it. Kid is a star.

            It’s like in any trade, quality over quantity.

        • True Gat…I was upset we traded Miller in that TB deal……but when I step back and look he is absolutely not all that

      • I strongly agree with you on Quinn. I don’t think he was very good last year honestly, but that it is not so surprising for a first year coach and I hope he grows into the job. He did wonderfully with DeAngelo, but I hope he can properly channel Chityl and some of the other younger players.

        As for trading Lias, you know way more about this game than I do, but I suspect that you should not try to trade your young players but should only deal them reluctantly. If you openly try to trade Andersson for example, other teams think “Hey, the Rangers know him best and don’t like him. We probably don’t want him either.” Of course, you can trade them as Arizona traded DeAngelo when you are making a deal and have to give up a prospect and the buying team actually requests the player.

        so I am noteager to deal Lias, but I would throw him in as a needed sweetener to a good deal before say Hajek or Miller. And at some point – likely not yet – the Rangers will have to deal some young talent to put the finishing touches on a competitive team.

        • Agreed Raymond, DQ had both good and bad. I think that you can also include Buch and Zib as players that took the next steps in their progressions. Ruff has to go, I have no idea why he is still here “running the defense.” Laughable.

          Lias is a grinder type, not a high skilled player. He has skills but I envision him as a Dustin Brown type of player. Hopefully Lias comes somewhere close to that level of production. But he’s got a long way to go, for sure.

          That being said, if the Rangers traded Lias to get a team to take Shatty, then I would have done that, yes.

          • I forgot Zibanejad. I was really impressed with the strides he made last year. He is now a true #1 center. I didn’t really think there was much movement with Buch though.

            Concerning Ruff, I just find it hard to believe that Gorton is saddling Quinn with a coach he does not want. I think Quinn wants him. Incidentally, I do think that there is a difference between designing a defensive system and instructing players to carry it out. Hypothetically at least, someone could be wedded to outmoded systems and so poor at the first task, but excellent at the second and if he were a proper team player and you told him what the system was going to be, he could be an asset.

          • Watch games that Buch played earlier in the year vs the last 5-6 weeks of the season.

            During the latter, he was around the blue paint and was a beast. That’s the player I hope that we have for a whole season this year. And then he scores 50+ points. Easy.

        • College coaches need to adjust, like college players to NHL game. I think Quinn is the perfect coach for this team at this point. I like the way he handled Buch and ADA, thats how college coaches handle things. Both of those players will be given a chance this year to swim or sink. I think Buch is going to have a breakout year. I am still concerned that ADA while vastly improved has not yet turned the corner on his career. He needs to play a full season “discipline free” and reduce the amount of time he spends in the box . His PP time will also be cut with Fox and Trouba – he is being challenged to take the next step. Time will tell with him.

      • His D+1 season was a lost one, then was rushed up in year 2.

        Guys like this are tough. Half of me wants him knowing in camp that he has to nail the system down to have a chance to stick, not be concerned about offence.

        The other half wants him to know how good he does in camp he starts in Hartford and has to show dominance at that level before he comes up.

        The latter is much more risky.

        • The best defense is a good offense and forwards that have the puck a lot more. Compare the forwards this coming year vs last year, hopefully a big positive difference.

          I don’t care who you have on defense, if they are constantly under siege then there will be bad results.

    • Lias is on the outside looking in when it comes to the expansion draft, so until he shows a reason why he earns a place in the 7, best not spending time on him.

    • One of Names or Strome should be traded, if for no other reason that they have too many forwards, as of today.

      And I think that they add a Reaves type (whether we agree with that or not is irrelevant since they will probably do it anyway) for the 4th line, so trades need to be made.

      • I think we are fine as long as we are under the cap. Top 6 are unanimous.

        Krastov can play with two out of these three: Lemeuix, Name, Strome…

        …with odd man out playing with Fast, Howden, or Boo. McKegg to Wolfpack.

        Did anyone do the math on Shatt buyout? Granted next year is a huge hit, only 40% of the contract will be applied over the years. Why is that important, because a 50% salary retain in a trade would have been an even bigger hit.

        • As it is now:


          I do not see Lemiuex out of the lineup or anyone for that matter. Trade Strome or Names and that solves the problem of roster space and clears some cap as well.

          The Shatty buyout is bad because it was him instead of Staal, the $$ will not matter in the grand scheme of things.

          • Lemeiux will not be in the press box. Chytil and Name will get shot at 2C before Strome does.

          • I strongly disagree here. The Rangers have a shortage of forwards, not a surplus. Only seven of the thirteen listed forwards are established successful NHLers. I am not worried about Kakko or Lemieux but Chityl, Howden, Andersson did not show they belonged last year and Kravtsov is a kid fresh from Russia who did not score all that much last year. I am inclined to put Chityl on the roster again and give Howden every chance to make the team, but I really want to start Krav and Andersson in Hartford (let Krav get used to the NA rink away from the spotlight). My opening day roster includes McKegg and Nieves (and di Guiseppi merits a look). I am not arguing that Nieves and McKegg are great players, just that they are competent – reasonable 13th forwards. Rangers may even need Brendan Smith here.

            I think the Shatty buyout was correct for two reasons:

            1. A Staal buyout (or even a 50% retained Shattenkirk trade) would not have generated enough savings to get under the cap with also trading Names or Strome — and as I said above, the Rangers need those players (and I believe I am on the same page as management here). You clearly disagree.

            2. For 2019-2020, the Rangers need a veteran LH defenseman more than a veteran RH defenseman. Shattenkirk was redundant. Assuming Staal has any ability (and management does), his talents are actually useful to the current Ranger team. I might add that if Hajek is for real and Rykov or someone else emerges, the picture may be very different in 2020-2021, making Staal superfluous.

            NOTE: We are not in disagreement with regard to who Kravtsov will be down the road. I would not be surprised if he becomes an elite player and I also would not be surprised if he were an impact player next spring. I just can’t see him doing much in calendar year 2019.

          • The dollars mattered A LOT this year. The rule is harsh, to say the least, about the punishments leveled on a team that isn’t cap compliant on day one of the season. The fine is a minimum of $1 million, max of $5M, a reduction of next year’s cap for the team by the same amount, forfeit of some draft picks (number to be determined by the Commissioner), and suspension of any team employee involved in the non-compliance. So, JG made sure the Rangers are in compliance.

      • There is not really any fighting in college hockey so he may not fit into Quinns strategy and gameplan.

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