The NY Rangers made two picks in the 1st round last night in the 2020 NHL Draft. Their first overall pick was used on Alexis Lafreniere. That was the easy pick to make and the only non-surprise of the draft. The Rangers then gave up a 3rd round pick to move up three spots to land Braden Schneider with the 19th overall pick. As per usual, I have some thoughts.
1. The Lafreniere pick was easy. Nothing else to it. There was a case for Quinton Byfield, who will also be a special player. However you don’t galaxy brain this pick. Alexis Lafreniere has always been the consensus pick. That’s the one you go with. Alexis Lafreniere is a New York Ranger.
2. The price to move up from the 22nd overall pick to the 19th overall pick was about right based on prior trades. In a vacuum, there is nothing wrong with this move.
3. The Braden Schneider pick was one that was criticized. At the time of the pick, I knew nothing about him. He’s not someone who was on my radar, but I’m not a prospects guy. My initial reaction was that he’s a good prospect/player, but a reach at that position. Trading up to get him wasn’t something I would have done.
4. But then I did more research. There was a lot of talk that he was Dylan McIlrath 2.0, but that’s just untrue. Schneider is more polished, a better skater, and a better overall player than McIlrath was at 10th overall that year. If that’s your concern, that should be put to bed. It doesn’t guarantee Schneider hits, but it at least moves him off that direction.
5. I reached out to a few prospects people. Sam Stern said it’s a fine pick, just not what he would have done. His concern that he’s a RD, a position the Rangers have a strength at in the NHL. In the pipeline, it’s really just Nils Lundkvist. Something has to give at this position, even before the pick. This solidifies it.
6. Meghan Chayka had glowing reviews of Schneider. She said he’s someone who is closer to Colton Parayko. If Schneider is a defensively sound RD who can make a good first pass and is a solid skater, then I’m fine. I think a lot of the concern is that the offense might not replicate in the NHL. That’s always a concern. But we had that concern with Ryan Lindgren, and that’s turned out ok so far.
7. Gordie Clark has earned the benefit of the doubt on this. His draft history is solid, and it’s why I don’t necessarily question the Rangers, but look to get more information. There were two pieces here. The first is the player, who the Rangers obviously liked. The second is that the Devils wanted to take him at #20, so the Rangers leapfrogged them to take him. That was clearly worth the 3rd round pick to them.
8. The NY Rangers could have done worse with their 1st round picks. That’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. They got the best player in the draft. They also got a player they clearly coveted, and were willing to give up a 3rd to both land him and mess up the Devils’ plans. A lot of the players on the board then are still on the board now. There’s a lot of time left in this draft.