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:
No longer with the Rangers (5): Sean Day, Joey Keane, Lias Andersson, Vinni Lettieri, Ville Meskanen
2020 Rankings: Honorable mentions, 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, 10-6
2019 Rankings: Honorable mentions, 25-20, 19-15, 14-11, 10-6, 5-1
5. K’Andre Miller – Defense, 2018 1st round pick (LY: 7)
The reality of rankings 5 (K’Andre Miller), 6 (Tony DeAngelo), and 7 (Nils Lundkvist) is that you can rank them in any order and it’s fine. In the older days of the Top 25 Under 25, I would have grouped all three together as one ranking/summary. Consider them a tie for #5.
Miller is a true gift of size, skill, and skating. He has all the tools to be a top pairing defenseman in the league with the proper grooming. Expect Miller to spend a full season in Hartford, as the Rangers aren’t going to rush him. Like most kids, he’s going to need to adjust to the speed of the next level.
It is worth noting that Miller’s point totals were down in his Sophomore year, and there are some concerns about aspects of his defensive play, like positioning. even with those concerns, he still has a ceiling of a top pairing defenseman.
4. Kaapo Kakko – Forward, 2019 1st round pick (LY: 1)
Kaapo Kakko had a bit of a rough rookie season with the Rangers. The general consensus is that fatigue played a role. There are some adjustments he needs to make, as some of his game needs to be fine tuned for the North American game.
In the playoffs this year, Kakko looked much improved and showed great progress. It’s expected that he’s going to take a major step forward next season and get some better linemates. He’s the #2 forward in the system, no questions asked.
3. Igor Shesterkin – Goalie, 2014 4th round pick (LY: 5)
What a year for Igor Shesterkin, He went from rookie year in the AHL to the heir to Henrik Lundqvist over the course of 75% of a season. The part about Shesterkin that impresses is that he slows the game down and his movements are smooth. There’s very little desperation. Like Lundqvist, Shesterkin’s movements are short and steady, getting his chest in front of shots as much as possible.
Shesterkin only has 12 games of NHL experience, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to make the full leap. He was the heir apparent before Benoit Allaire got his hands on him, and now with those two synced up, the potential seems limitless.
Shesterkin turns 25 in December.
2. Adam Fox – Defense, trade from Carolina (LY: 7)
You should not be surprised to see Adam Fox as the #2. Fox was by far the Rangers best all around defenseman last year and was snubbed as a Calder finalist. He is just great all around, and still managed to look good with that disaster team defense from early last season.
Fox already excels in all three zones at the NHL level. He’s a tremendous puck mover, skater, and has great hockey IQ and instincts. There are few defensive deficiencies or holes in his game. Fox is going to be in the top five until he ages out.
1. Alexis Lafreniere – Forward, 2020 1st round pick (LY: NR)
The obvious #1 for this year’s NY Rangers Top 25 Under 25. He is the single most skilled player the Rangers have ever drafted. He will have some growing pains, and he’s not Connor McDavid. But Alexis Lafreniere is a game changer for the Rangers. What else is there to day?
Expect him to be on this list for seven more years.