Thoughts on the Rangers picks on Day Two of the 2021 NHL Draft
What an anticlimactic day for the Rangers yesterday. Heading into the draft, there were talks about Jack Eichel, Ryan Strome, Alex Georgiev, and others. Leaving the draft, the Rangers lost a top-six winger and didn’t make any other other moves. The draft strategy was also a far cry from the last two or three drafts as well. Day One was a whirlwind of emotions. Day Two was just dread, expecting the worst and perhaps a little happy nothing else major happened. As per usual, I have some thoughts on the Rangers draft.
1. First on the lack of moves. As mentioned Saturday morning before Day Two started it was surprising that the Pavel Buchnevich trade was the only trade. In fact because that was the only trade, I missed on all three of my bold predictions which didn’t seem so bold. The lack of action was disappointing given the rumors and hope. However after the dud that was the Buchnevich trade, perhaps that wasn’t so bad. Given the caliber of players that were rumored, this might take a little longer. Remember that Scott Gomez wasn’t traded until the eve of free agency. Rick Nash wasn’t a Ranger until July. There’s plenty of time.
2. After the top 10-15 guys, I don’t know much about prospects, so until I sit down and do full research into these kids, there’s not much for me to evaluate. So if you’re expecting thoughts on each player, sorry that does need to wait. However there is enough information to infer what the draft strategy was and give high level thoughts on the picks. That’ll do, right?
3. The overall Rangers draft strategy differed from what we’ve seen. For the most part, the Rangers drafted grit and low ceiling players that project to be third and fourth line guys. It is worth noting that outside of perhaps Jayden Grubbe (3rd) and Hank Kempf (7th), the picks do have skill but are project picks. I think that is fair given the draft depth and lack of real scouting this year. However that is not the case for first rounder Brennan Othmann, who has the skill set to be a good pick.
4. Brody Lamb is a kid many are getting excited about. The kid has some great offensive numbers, the ones you want to see for a 17 year old kid entering his freshman year at Minnesota. He needs to put on weight, naturally, since he’s just 17 years old. But the hands and the shot are legit. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that he has the highest ceiling from the Day Two picks.
5. The Rangers traded up to get Ryder Korczak in the third round, another gritty guy with skill. He and Lamb appear to be great value. If there’s one thing to take from this draft thoughts piece, it’s that the Rangers may have come away with a trio –these two and Othmann– of good skill/grit combo guys.
6. As per usual, the Rangers drafted their monster. It seems they have a quota of one guy over 6’6″, this year it was goalie Talyn Boyko.
7. The quick thoughts during the Rangers draft were a little skeptical to say the least. The Rangers went off the board from those on social media, which happens every year. Given I don’t know much about anyone beyond the top guys, I try to stay away from those comments except in jest. There was definitely a theme of grit this year, which goes with the joke that Tom Wilson ruined the Rangers. However let’s remember the Rangers drafted Braden Schneider and Will Cuylle the year prior to address the grit piece. Having more pieces is fine, but overdoing it is not. I’ll defer to those who know better if the Rangers really passed on some high ceiling skill guys to take players like Grubbe, and Kempf.
8. Between the draft and the Buchnevich trade, it’s clear the Rangers are swinging the pendulum in the complete opposite direction, going for grit and size with a few skill guys sprinkled in. While one draft, one signing, and one trade does not define a strategy, it is something to keep an eye on. Skill is always harder to come by than grit and is infinitely more expensive. It is bad practice to trade high end skill for low end grit (Buchnevich for Blais/2nd) and to overpay for grit (Goodrow). While the latter can be explained away –I like Goodrow and think he will be fine, but it’s a bad contract– the Buchnevich trade can’t be. The draft is a swing in the direction of the Buchnevich trade, and not the Goodrow add. It doesn’t bode well. However there is a plan in place and we have yet to see what the full plan is.
9. Number 8 is meant to give hope and patience to see it through for the offseason. However, there’s still a solid chance it’s a crappy plan. In that case, Godspeed folks.