A look at the NY Rangers prospect pool, and potentially reshaping the top prospects

One of the common themes for the Rangers since they drafted Kaapo Kakko is that they have one of the best prospect pools in the league. In the span of three months, they added Adam Fox, Kakko, and then had one of their strongest drafts in recent memory. But how much of this is hyperbole, hype, and excitement, and how much of it is based on actual fact, or at least as factual as we can get with prospects?

Using Sean Tierney’s prospect evaluator, we get a good look at the current state of the Rangers’ prospect pool. The usual suspects are there, but with a pair of surprises. Matthew Robertson, one of the Blueshirts’ second rounders this year, has separated himself from the pack in terms of probability to make the NHL. As has Ryan Lindgren, a prospect some –including myself– has been guilty of overlooking. A grain of salt here is required, since prospect development and rankings are volatile. Also worth noting is Lindgren falls a little under the 0.0 WAR/82 line, while Robertson is right on it.

Disclaimer: Players that have played in the NHL are not on this graphic.

Another fun graphic to look at is how the Rangers’ prospect pool looks side by side. Clearly Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov are the headliners up front, but the Rangers are actually pretty thin outside of those two. Their blue line prospects are much deeper, with Nils Lundkvist, Fox, and K’Andre Miller leading the way. In addition to Robertson and Lindgren, don’t sleep on Tarmo Reunanen, who is getting his first pro season this year.

If you’re like me, then you also want to see how each player breaks down. Kravtsov and Kakko are pretty clearly made for the NHL, but some of the other guys that we’ve mentioned should be looked at further. I’m not going to go into each one, you can play around with the tool in the link above, but here are some of my notes:

  • Kakko and Kravtsov dominate the forward rankings, but the Rangers are thin at the prospect level.
  • Fox, the blue liner most likely to make the jump this year, grades very well across the board. Age is a factor in Tierney’s overall output, which negatively impacts Fox, but he should be an NHLer next season.
  • Lindgren has a high probability to make the NHL, but also has a low or negative impact from a WAR perspective. Obviously we won’t know what he can do until he makes it, but this has certainly made me pay more attention to him.
  • Don’t sleep on Lundkvist – this kid is looking to be a steal in the late first round in 2018.
  • Time is running out for Sean Day.
  • Reunanen grades highly for offensive production, but poorly for adjusted WAR. Something to keep an eye on.
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  • “Disclaimer: Players that have played in the NHL are not on this graphic.”

    This is why it’s better to look at players who are UNDER a certain age — whether we make that 23 or 25. That gives a much better read about the future of any organization. Normally you would have guys like Chytil, Andersson, Howden and Hajek listed as well … so depth at any position isn’t an issue right now.

    • Actually five forward prospects is not enough to give you depth if you don’t have a decent size stable of veterans. The Rangers literally have three veteran forwards under contract for 2020-2021 (Zib, Pan, Buch is a great start but 3+5 does not equal depth). I suppose we can throw in Lemieux who will be an RFA. Kreider and Fast may or may not resigned, but even if they are that still only makes eleven.

      This is why the Rangers are so thin they need Names and Strome this year and may have issues down the road.

      The major point to remember is this: If you add your quartet to the yellow players, you get 5 forwards and six defensemen. That seems somewhat balanced until you remember that you need 12 forwards and six defensemen to play hockey. Balanced is a two to one ratio. Five forward prospects. is plenty for a team which already has a solid group, not so much for a rebuilding team.

      • “The major point to remember is this: If you add your quartet to the yellow players, you get 5 forwards and six defensemen. That seems somewhat balanced until you remember that you need 12 forwards and six defensemen to play hockey.”

        Yeah it’s a problem but the expansion draft mitigates this problem somewhat… we will be in excellent shape as far as protecting players. We may lose Hajek, but if you want expose Skjei instead it could be an option. The next year will let us know more, especially about Hajek and Lindgren.

      • Oh please … if we’re talking Top 6 forwards here, we currently have Zib, Pan, Buch and yes, Kreider … add potential Top 6 forwards Kakko, Kravtsov and Chytil. For the bottom 6 you have Lemieux, Andersson, Howden and Nieves … plus pretty decent prospects like Gettinger and Morgan Barron. As for vets there’s Strome, Namestnikov and Fast. Assuming you trade Strome, Namestnikov, Fast and say Kreider, the windfall will be considerable … and from that replacements will come and provide continued depth.

        • There’s a difference between optimism and ridiculousness and you are far over the line. Having Nieves and Gettinger does not make you a deep organization. Fielding twelve forwards is easy. Guys like Dawson Leedahl are dime a dozen. Forward depth means you don’t have to play guys who would not make the lineup for other teams.

          Look carefully at the Ranger forward corps. There are 28 guys, 14 subject to waivers and 14 that are waiver exempt. Of the 14 subject to waivers, it is presumed that 6 will easily clear waivers, so that leaves only 8 major veterans. And that counts Namestnikov and Strome who are almost certainly not in the long term picture. Of the 14 young players, only five rate highly and that is even including Andersson.

          And there will not be this considerable windfall from trading Names, Strome, Fast and Kreider. Oh sure, Kreider will net a haul, maybe even enough to replace him, but Fast is just a bottom six guy and the reason Names and Strome are still here is I am sure largely due to the fact that nobody really wants them (with their attached salaries).

          I agree that there is a reasonable chance that the Rangers will have a stellar top six within two years, especially if they can hang on to Kreider. But I presently have little confidence that the bottom six won’t hurt them. And more to the point, good depth means you can trade people without fear of the consequences. It also means that if Andersson is a dud, Chityl and Howden are bottom six and Krav needs a year in Hartford, you’ll still be OK.

          I am not saying everything is going to go wrong. But you are presuming everything is going to go right and that seldom happens.

  • I hate to sound critical, but this article is pretty weak. How come Lindgren is still a prospect, but Hajek isn’t? They’ve both played 5 games in the NHL. Also, why is Brendan Smith included in the first graph? He’s certainly not a prospect any more. (Interesting that on that graph he also ranks lower than any of the true prospects). Next, why are none of our European forward prospects (like Karl Henriksson or Leevi Aaltonen) included? I seem to remember us drafting a number of them recently. Maybe our list of forward prospects wouldn’t actually be “pretty thin” if they were included. Then, there are another couple of missing persons, most notably Morgan Barron (add him to the lost of forward prospects, too) and Zac Jones (who’s good enough to have played at the WJSS this year).

    • The chart is more thorough than it looks. Ignoring the seven players on the right in yellow, there are eleven names and sixteen points. Presumably there is not enough room to squeeze all the names in. The point is that there are five players who are not named who are actually on the graph.

      Dave, I don’t disagree with your attempt to make the graph more readable by these omissions (it is busy enough as it is), but you might provide a list of the five extra names.

      • Thanks, I hadn’t noticed the missing names. From what I can see they’re all low level prospects. I don’t think Barron or Jones fall in that category.

        • If you click on the prospect evaluator in Dave’s original post, you can see numbers for everyone that Sean Tierney actually rated. Neither Barron nor Jones was included in that list. JFTR, the decision to include Lindgren and not Hajek was actually made by Tierney, probably because Hajek was on the Ranger roster at the end of season (though injured) while Lindgren was in Hartford.

          Honestly I don’t know what his process was though. He included Newell but not Jacob Elmer, Ronning but not Gettinger. With draft choices, the obvious thing is to cut things off at a certain round.

          These ratings are least valuable for people drafted this year as it is based on pretty much the same information that the NHL teams had at the time. OTOH, the high ratings of last year’s first rounders suggest that the players made good progress since the draft.

  • We bought Panarin because our forward prospects are pretty lame other than Kakko and Kraftsov. Fox, on the defensive side, looks close to being NHL ready, while the rest seem a year or 2 away. Sounds like we have a strong pipeline of defenders and goalies. Might have to pick forwards at the top of next years draft to ensure some kind of pipeline for the 2023 season.

    I feel that for the first time in a long time there is help on the way. Good to be a NY Ranger fan right now. Might not translate to immediate playoff success though.

  • WOW you young people make me laugh. You have a computer graph or program for everything. Soon you’ll be telling every human being how to conduct their lives according to some computer software. GIVE ME A BREAK! Computers can’t tell how the human mind works and never will. That’s why some guy with all the talent in the world can’t make it and some other guy under sized with little talent becomes a star. No computer program can predict that! So PLEASE enough already with it.

  • Rykov not considered a prospect?

    And don’t sleep on Tarmo.

    Gropp, the epitome of the whole Hagelin disaster and the way the Rangers handled that. Classic example of not paying attention to who they play with in juniors. Barzal in this case.

    • Actually I remember there was some analysis at the time that showed Gropp did fine without Barzal (when he was injured and when he wasn’t played on the same line).

  • So , now we are projecting WAR before they play 1 NHL game!
    Anyone else tired of this BS
    What a crock of @#@#
    I would love to see how inaccurate this is

    • Come on man, it is August and Dave and the crew are trying their best to fill our need for content. I thought the stats to be speculative too but at least there was something to read with my coffee this morning! 🙂

      What the world really needs now is an article about Esa Tikkanen!

  • To say Sean Day is running out of time is laughable.

    He just finished year 1 of his ELC where he looked like the best D on the ice by the end of the season.

    It might be crowded right now on the left side, but when Staal goes away it’s a battle between him and Rykov for the 3rd spot and Day is 2 years younger(and farther away from UFA.)

    At that time, the question will be whether Miller is a straight replacement for Skjei or does he slot in under Hajek until he gets his sea legs.

    • Reen

      That’s an interesting take on Sean that you have. For a period of time there was nothing but negative reports on the kid. I will pull for the guy myself though!!!!!!!

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