Prospects

8th Annual NY Rangers Top 25 Under 25: Numbers 15-11

Today we continue with the 8th Annual NY Rangers Top 25 Under 25.  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 (1): Pavel Buchnevich
No longer with the Rangers (5): Sean DayJoey KeaneLias Andersson, Vinni Lettieri, Ville Meskanen
2020 RankingsHonorable mentions25-21, 20-16
2019 Rankings: Honorable mentions, 25-2019-1514-1110-65-1

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

Oh the horror of Tarmo Reunanen being ranked a whole one spot ahead of Ryan Lindgren. Yes, I read the comments.

Reunanen is starting to come into his own. He had a breakout season in 2018-2019, and followed it up with a strong 2019-2020 season in Liiga. Signed to an entry level contract to secure his rights, the Rangers loaned him out to Liiga last year and he’s on temporary loan this year. It is expected that Reunanen compete for a spot on the roster this coming season. It can be argued that he may actually have the inside track.

Reunanen’s ceiling is a bit higher, as he has the potential to bring in that puck moving ability while being a strong defender in his own zone. He’s been a very strong producer in all three zones in Liiga. There will be a lot of eyes on him whenever the preseason starts.

14. Morgan Barron – Forward, 2017 6th round pick (LY: 15)

The Rangers really wanted to get Morgan Barron out from Cornell, and they did just that. Cornell’s captain forewent (I think that’s the word) his senior season due to the unknown status of the NCAA this year to sign with the Blueshirts. Many have him penciled in as a bottom-six center this year. He’s just a strong player that should give the Rangers much needed depth down the middle.

It won’t be a disappointment if Barron needs time in the AHL. In fact, it’s expected. Penciling in Barron as a potential 2C is a bit ambitious, as he probably peaks as a 3C. With teams needing four legitimate lines and at least three scoring lines, you need strong role players like Barron.

13. Lauri Pajuniemi – Forward, 2018 5th round pick (LY: NR)

What a leap for Lauri Pajuniemi. I have to admit I overlooked Pajuniemi in his draft year, but his 26-14-40 in Liiga last season sure did make me look silly. The Rangers were on to something when they took a kid who was already a mainstay in Liiga at 18 years old.

Pajuniemi is a very strong skater with a potentially elite level shot. He does all the big things well, but doesn’t shy away from the little things needed to win games. He’s another guy who is strong in all three zones, which is a theme for most of the prospects on this list. Pajuniemi remains unsigned, but likely not for long.

12. Julien Gauthier – Forward, trade with Carolina (LY: NR)

I like Julien Gauthier. I like the trade the Rangers made to get him. Gauthier is a big boy, but he’s far from a slouch on his feet. We saw in this short playoff run that he’s a very good skater with solid offensive instincts. Gauthier has improved in each season since his draft year, something that I’m starting to weigh more heavily in these rankings.

There were some comparisons to Rick Nash, but that’s probably his highest possible ceiling. Gauthier projects as a three-zone winger in the middle-six. I think this from my initial post on Gauthier sums it up best.

Willingness to get to high-percentage areas, a lethal shot, hockey IQ, and breakaway speed are four major traits that lead to future NHL success. It’s going to be a bumpy road. He’s going to make mistakes. But Gauthier looks like he is the real deal and will help solidify the middle-six in the future.

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

Zac Jones is a part of that tremendous 2019 NHL Draft that the Rangers had. He’s a supremely talented player who has the potential to be that top guy on the point in a few years. He’s already looked good at UMass-Amherst, putting up 3-20-23 in 32 games before having his season cut short.

Dobber Prospects has Jones potentially reaching top pairing potential if he continues his development path. He’s just that good. He may be a little undersized, but he’s far from weak. He will put on more muscle and the size won’t be a concern. Remember – Torey Krug is 5’9″, the same height as Jones.

The Rangers swung for the fences with Jones, and it appears to be paying off.

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  • “Many have him penciled in as a bottom-six center this year. He’s just a strong player that should give the Rangers much needed depth down the middle.”

    I’m a big advocate for Morgan Barron, but I learned something that may hinder him even being called up this season. The cap being what it is, he will get some big increase in pay if he plays in the NHL this season. The exact amount I’m not sure of, but yesterday on the new “Ice City” podcast, that very subject came up, and the cost, both base pay and incentives, comes out to $1.6 or so? Yes just for making it to the NHL it raises his cost to us by some $600K.

    Just think about this, to those who advocate for buyouts, we have over $16 mil in dead cap space, causing this dreadful situation we are in. Please, NO MORE BUYOUTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It appears that Barron won’t get to play for us this season, for which I’m bummed out about……………..

      • tanto

        OK $13 mil, but they never should have signed these players in the first place. All along I was against the Shattenkirk signing, only to be proven right. Girardi getting the contract he got, you have got to be kidding. Signing these over the hill retreads never worked out, with one exception, Mark Messier, and they were lucky to get him in a trade. I still stand by my statement, never sign old farts to long term, high paying contracts!!!!!!

        • $5.5M dead cap space went to Hank, should we not have signed him? If you’re going to respond that we should have only given him a 5-6 year contract, try telling Hank back then that he should ONLY accept a 5-6 year deal. Let’s be real, Hank had them by the short hairs and squeezed our balls for everything he could get on that contract.

          • tanto

            Please read the names written!!!!!!!!!!

            As for Hank, seven years was too much as well, because players usually don’t play well after 32-33 or older. There are exceptions, but for the most part that is where they are in a steep decline…………..

            Please tell me that you were in favor of Kevin being signed for the amount, and term. The guy never could play a lick of defense, and is Mr Softy, as Biden would say “come on man”!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Hank was never going to accept less than the full 8 years. He thought he could play into his late 30’s and wanted to finish his career with the Rangers. Again, we had no option but to accede to his demands. I guarantee if we didn’t and he booked, fans would have revolted and blamed the GM for not treating Hank right. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

            … and yes you didn’t mention him, but I had to considering his cap hit is virtually equivalent to Shattenkirk’s. It takes up about 40% of the total amount of dead cap space. Re: Shattenkirk, he didn’t fit here — that’s in part on the coaching staff. He was brought in to provide some offensive punch from the back end, not to play stalwart defense. It was known and always figured to be true. TB used him properly — and yes, even then he wasn’t worth the money we were paying him, but that WAS the world of UFA signing back then, pre-my sharona virus. That’s why you need to stay away from the UFA market and be very very very selective. It should be used for special players (Panarin) or “bargain signings”, but not for “specialists” or middle of the road additions.

          • tanto

            Then we aren’t that far apart. I just hate signing any UFA because it’s a pissing contest to get the services of guns for hire, that have zero loyalties to the organization……………………………..

  • I am sorry to say this but with the exception of Jones , none of these guys should be above Lindgren. The two Finns will never play in the NHL and Goat hasn’t proven anything yet. Jones has definite upside but is not where Lindgren is yet.

    • Lindgren is a rock Czech…No one is displacing Lindgren…. Tough as nails and not given enough credit for his hockey IQ and awareness…

  • Reading the comments is fine, but watch Reunanen actually play a game beyond the highlight reels.

    Some people can argue that he has the inside track on making the roster, but some people are blithering idiots. He’s a homeless man’s version of Adam Boqvist, a poor man’s John Gilmour. I’ve been watching him for 4 years and he hasn’t gotten better.

    He jumps into the play, then stays there without getting back to his spot, he still stops his feet when defending his blue line, still can’t strip pucks in his own end.

    Asides from all that, he might be a below average defender at the Liiga level. He’s an average defender at Mestis with offensive upside.

  • Pajuniemi is a homeless man’s Ovechkin. Scores from a one timer by the dot, the rest of the game is patterned on Ovie as well; except he’s slightly below average in size and skating instead of a huge guy who can skate.

    Could be a PP specialist in a bottom 6 role in Hartford.

    • Great response. I dont want you to put him number 1 because he isnt. But he certainly is above the 15-11 prospects you listed. Two of which will never sniff the NHL. While Lindgren is playing second pair on the NHL roster and was arguably our best player in the “playoffs”

      • You have your opinion, I have mine.

        I’ve stated numerous times that there are concerns about Lindgren’s performance away from Fox, and it might be a case where he is riding Fox’s coattails, much like Strome and Panarin (albeit less extreme).

        You disagree. That’s fine. Your opinion isn’t fact. Neither is mine.

        • In the case of Lindgren that’s like saying Fast has been riding someone’s coattails all these years. Far from it … Lindgren is a throwback d’man, he’s not here to razzle and dazzle anyone, he’s here to be hard to play against and to compete.

        • Except for the definitive “Two of which will never sniff the NHL”, Czech’s opinion is actually fact.

          There was a stretch last season when Lindgren -Staal was one of the premiere PK duos in the NHL. Was Lindgren just riding Staal’s coattails?

        • I think an argument could be made that Lindgren actually makes Fox better.

          Fox knows Lindgren has got his back and will cover for him when Fox decides to jump into the offense.

          They played together in junior tournaments; their history and communication shouldn’t be under estimated.

          I’d be leery about breaking them up as a pair.

  • I love the way people jump to conclusions about players who are still at least a year or two away from even being considered for a spot on the team. Give them a chance to show their ability, or lack of it, before deciding that they’re either future all stars, or the next coming of Alexander Daigle.

  • Nash is not a hall of famer but a hall of very good though and saying Gauthier has Nash upside is a stretch imo.

    • It really is … at most you might say he could (based on his attributes) play like a watered down poor man’s version of Nash — or should I say a homeless man’s version of Rick Nash?! 😉

  • I don’t like where this list is going. For starters, let’s compare Braden Schneider and Julien Gauthier. Schneider is a #19 pick in what was regarded as a very good year. Gauthier was a #21 pick. Carolina was willing to trade him for 3rd round pick Joey Keane even though they don’t really need defensemen – so I would suggest that Carolina was at least a tad disappointed. Gauthier has spent three years in the NHL and is already 23. We look at an incomplete player and highlight his talents.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like Gauthier. But there is no way you put him above Schneider. In fact, it is not so clear to me that he even belongs above Will Cuylle and Oliver Tarnstrom, high draft choices in a good year. My greater objection here is that these two guys are not getting any mention at all on the entire list – AND you even said Tarnstrom was a good pick.

    Schneider should rank ahead of each of these players.

    With regard to Lindgren, there is little to say. How Lindgren stacks up against Kakko and Kravtsov (even Schneider) is a matter of opinion. How he stacks up against Reuanen and Jones is not.

  • What really struck me about Gauthier was his speed. Rather than Nash, I’d compare him to a poor man’s Carl Hagelin. If he can lock down a 3rd line wing role, and put deep forecheck pressure with his speed, he will be extremely valuable.

    • He needs to play with much more aggression (forcefulness) if he wants to even remotely resemble either Nash or Hagelin. He has the body for it, but he needs to adjust his mindset — this isn’t the AHL. If he does he could be an excellent bottom 6 winger with some offensive pop.

  • Zac Jones, the best Ranger prospect no one talks about on a regular basis.

    I hope that he eventually gets the chance to stay here, instead of using him in a trade to get an upgrade. It could be the Graves thing all over again.

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