THN: Rangers rank #2 prospect system; Schneider top prospect

The Hockey News has released it’s 2021 prospect ranks, and thanks to Tom Urtz for posting this. The Rangers rank as the #2 prospect system in the league, but don’t have any prospects in the top-30.

There’s no real issue with the Rangers as the #2 system in the league. They lost Alexis Lafreniere, Igor Shesterkin, K’Andre Miller, and Kaapo Kakko as prospects in recent years. That’s a lot of high end skill to lose. Yet they still have a top system in the league.

Where I disagree is with the individual prospect rankings, but everyone has their own opinion. I think Zac Jones is too low and Libor Hajek is about 900 spots too high. There’s some quibbling about whether or not Braden Schneider should be the top prospect. I think that should go to Vitali Kravtsov. I’m very high on Nils Lundkvist, but it’s clear a lot of people think Schneider is the real deal too. I’d put Lundkvist at 2 and Schneider at 3, but this is nit-picking.

The league-wide prospect rankings seem a bit off, specifically with Kravtsov and Lundkvist. I think both are being slept on because they are Euro prospects. THN is has bit of a North American bias. I’m not well versed in other teams prospects, but leaving a top-ten pick out of the top-30 seems off, no?

Either way, the Rangers still rank as the #2 prospect system. That’s great no matter which way you look at it.

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  • In light of this abundance, I wonder what BSB’s consensus is on the contracts of Kreider and Trouba, along with Z’s next deal.

    • Zibanejad will get paid, not replaced.

      Trouba and Kreider will not finish out their current contracts as Rangers. They will be traded at some point due to the cap crunch….question is will they need to be packaged with another asset (prospect) in order for teams to take on the cap hit. Hopefully, they continue to produce and the cap continues to rise so that when the time is right we can jettison them alone, without having to incentivize with other assets.

        • Of course…… just my .02. A bit of a hot take, perhaps but that is how I would draw it out if I were a betting man.

        • Tom, appreciate your candor. I am not a hater at all. It is a numbers game, always is, and if you are looking closely his shots taken per game is down to the lowest it has been since 2015/16. His goal totals are up due to a high shooting %- currently 21%, the first time it has ever eclipsed a single season high of 15.4%.

          It won’t be overnight but if those shot totals don’t come back up from 2 to 2.25 or 2.5 per game, hard to see his production keeping up as he ages.

          Then take into account his relative impact on shot attempts at even strength (CF% rel) and he has been on a steady decline since 2016-17. This is the startling part:

          8.5, 6.9, 5.5, 3.3, 1.2

          I believe he is still part of our solution to a cup run in the next 3 year window. After 2023/24, he will be on the outside looking in.

          Funny enough, 2024/25 is when his full NMC turns into a modified situation.

          • … and Trouba’s will be after the 2023/24 … that will be the time we make the changeover if necessary.

            I think one of the reasons for the high shooting percentage is the number of empty net goals he scores — and by that I mean the tip-ins into a wide open net. Easy goals to put in, hard though to get yourself into such a wide open position. That’s his talent, along with screening goalies and tipping pucks in (he’s one of the best at it). Sure he occasionally blasts a shot in from 25-40′ feet out, but that’s not his bread and butter (it’s Mika’s).

    • If the Rangers were to go out and acquire Eichel from Buffalo, that IMO would spell the end for Zibanejad. I don’t think you can afford to pay Zibanejad with Kreider, Panarin, and Eichel making upwards of $10 mil each per season long term.

      • I don’t see them replacing Zibenajad with Eichel or another center for that matter. Injuries aside, Zibenajad has performed above and beyond what any of us could have hoped when we acquired him at age 23.

        Term will dictate if we can make his next contract work. Hopefully he agrees to something around 5 years…

      • Eichel is not happening anymore he has herniated disk in his neck he will be consistently on and off the IR also think zbj is a better all around player minus his faceoff ability

  • Both Kreider and Trouba have some type of no movement options, right? So, basically, they are Rangers unless they decide they don’t want to be. No?

    • Until after 2023/24 … which I think is almost PERFECT. This gives guys like Lafreniere and the defensive prospects (Lundkvist and Scneider) to work their way in and accept more and more responsibility with time. We don’t have to rely on them to be TOP players right away. All those guys will be approaching their mid-20s by then.

  • Kravs and Lundkvist have to be 1 and 2, at this specific point in time it’s hard to debate otherwise.

    • Lead times on print publishing(especially on products like this) were notoriously long, like 90 days. I would think it would have been sped up at some point, but who knows.

  • I think Kravtsov belongs in the top 30. However, that being said

    I don’t think just being a top 10 pick should get you in the top 30. Among other things, there are a number of draft classes represented and using up entire top 10s will come close to filling the list. Also, just because the Rangers grabbed Andersson and Kravtsov in the top ten does not make them “true” top 10 picks. In both cases, the Rangers went off the board and grabbed somebody who consensus dictated was not a top 10 pick. That alone should not vault these players into the ranks of the elite prospects.

    Our inclination is to believe that the Rangers got it right with Kravtsov, but it is not unreasonable for some to disagree.

    Interesting that Hajek (23, 67 GP) is a prospect and Lafreniere (19, 45 GP) is not.

  • I like this idea. I would pass on Kupari but Madden and Thomas would be interesting. McLeod in Edmonton? Could be a smart move if the center(s) they get, along with Chytil, are ready to lock down the 2 and 3 spots after Strome’s contract expires/he gets traded.

    It might be possible to get Turcotte but that would cost the Rangers, for sure.

  • Im here to tell you. I’ve seen Braden Schneider play and he is The Real Deal. When it’s done he’s going to be a 1 pair D man and make a lot of Ranger fans happy when it occurs

    • Button said on the day of the draft…with our first 3 picks, think, Jerome Ignila, Shea Weber and Tom Wilson…if them come close to that…i think we win 3 cups in the next 10 years.

  • Actually there are two centers on the list – Barron and Vierling.

    The Rangers are actually fairly deep at center at the moment. I think very few teams can claim their third best center is as good as any of Zibanejad, Strome, Chityl. Rooney and Blackwell are above average fourth centers I’d say. Howden adds depth and Barron is on the way.

    The problem is that Strome’s age and increasing age make him likely to be gone soon and if Barron does not emerge, they don’t have a good #3.

    As for face-offs, I really believe that this is a team problem and not a center problem. It isn’t just one guy who wins the face-off and if all of your centers are struggling, maybe it isn’t the centers.

    • “I also heard before your position that faceoffs not centers problem. I disagree with it. Centers play their position. ”

      Let me be clear on this. It is well understood that the outcome of a face-off depends on ALL of the skaters on the ice AND how the team structures itself to handle the face-off. Certainly the single most important individuals are the two guys in the face-off circle. But the other factors do come into play.

      Looking at Ranger numbers, Chityl is doing far worse than Zibanejad, Strome, Rooney, Howden. It seems fair to conclude that Chityl is weak in this area. However, with the others being respectable but all below 50%, I at least can’t help but wonder if the other players and the team structure are causing this.

      Yes, it is possible that all are below average, but a unifying explanation that the team is not playing face-offs properly may be better.

      BTW, the Rangers have only given up two goals after the opponents have pulled their goalie, well below average. Carolina, second in the league in face-off percentage and ten percentage points ahead of the Rangers there, have given up 6.

    • I’ve always believed that faceoffs is a skill that can be learned (it’s less reliant on a natural talent) — and not just by centers, but by the wingers as well. There’s really no excuse for being so poor at it — and a good coaching staff would teach the other 4 non-faceoff guys how to best place themselves in a position to win the puck.

      Dolan can afford to bring in a faceoff coach to work with these guys.

  • Didn’t they have Kravstov as the #1 guy a couple of seasons ago? Maybe that wasn’t THN tho. Either way, no concerns about not having one in the top 30. All of our best “prospects” are pretty much in NY already. Doesn’t make much difference if one is low if he’ll have 2-3 seasons under his belt by the time some of these guys play their first NHL game.

  • Do you think l, with all these D Men in the pipe, a Miller has the chance to be the lead in a trade. Is he good enough to save a Kakko, Laf, or Krav to be part of a bigger deal? Not saying I don’t think he’s a good player, just knowing we have an abundance of young “talent.”

    • To me, I would hold onto K’Andre. He is unique. The size, the reach, the quick feet to match. It’s all a very nice package that is very hard to find. He’s basically stepped into top line minutes right from the get-go and done pretty well for himself. He will only get better. And I don’t think we’ve even grazed the surface yet with him being a physical force out there. Last week, he lost a step on a Devil to the outside. But he used his reach and his skating to get mostly back in the play before throwing the guy into the corner while somewhat off balance. I have not seen too many d-men who would be able to do that.

      On the flip-side… I feel like we have many of the same type of d-men in the pipeline. Smallish, puck-moving prospects. There’s nothing really wrong with that at all. But given the plethora of prospects we have coming up, I would not want them all to be of the same type, same build, and same game. Fox, Jones, and Lundkvist are all very similar. If Fox is the best of the bunch, then I think you look to include one of the others and keep Miller for his unique skill-set. And the longer it takes them to get Nils to sign his ELC, the more I think they will include him.

  • “ Libor Hajek is about 900 spots too high.”
    And as soon as you see Jones play six months on this team you’ll hate him too, Dave. It’s kinda who you are these days, sadly. You love prospects and other teams players, not so much our talent. I just don’t understand this type of thinking. Go back to the old Dave!

    • The love affair with undersized guys who put up points but can’t really defend continues unabated.

        • I am not sold on Lundkvist. Let’s see how he does on the smaller ice surface, playing with the best hockey players in the world.

          • I’m sold.

            On his 1st year of 1st pair minutes, he’s basically even, so he’ll transfer well over to NA. The production is obvious, the play off the puck is there as well compared to other suspects.

  • I’d have Edström in at #8 right now. his P60 was .824 with mostly 4th line minutes, but in the playoffs (⚠️small sample ⚠️ ) his P60 is a whopping 5.02 playing matchup against 1st liners. Even then ice time only went up 30 seconds/night.

    Hopefully next season they will move him back to center to see in he can handle it at age 21. I doubt he’ll be more than a 4th liner, but a big guy who can skate and a hard guy to play against who still put up points in a limited role is a player to keep an eye on.

  • Kings won’t trade Byfield; could maybe get Turcotte for Lundkvist straight up, but not sure about upside.

    The rest are bottom 6 players at best, something that the Rangers already have plenty of. Even as much as I like JA-D, he’s not an answer to any questions about the squad.

    • None of the Kings C’s do much for me. Too far away or not good enough. This team is ready now, next year they’ll be scary, 22-23 is fill out soft spots, 23-24 is go for broke territory.

      Lundkvist not only puts up the points, but is sneaky good/great in his own end. Moving picks/partner support on breakout/gap control/active stick/actual defending. On this team he would be 3rd pair, but he really could make Fox redundant by the time Fox’s ELC expires. The Kings would do that deal in a heartbeat.

      A right side of Lundkvist/Trouba /Schneider that eventually becomes Lundkvist/Schneider/insert 3rd pair here would be something.

      I got killed for suggesting that Byfield wasn’t all that and a bag of chips because for his size, he wasn’t really that efficient a scorer and his skating stride scares me(so far over his skates, he’s a easy target for a head shot) going forward. Now in the A, (with already having a pro frame) he’s scoring at a 3rd line rate. He’ll probably be better than that(my model suggested a solid 1st liner), but it’s a concern. You can talk about aging curves, but that is a lazy substitute for H/W ratio. Nobody is really killing it production wise in Ontario, so that is an issue that needs to be explored.

      I wouldn’t trade either Kakko or Lafreniere for Byfield without a deep, deep dive.

      • Current setup in the middle, just would put Barron as the pivot and Howden on the wing. Barron’s got the size that Howden is missing, also uses his head for something other than a hat rack.

        That last bit is for Red. RIP.

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