Grading the Rangers 2021 draft
What a couple of weeks it has been. In the span of two weeks, we saw the expansion draft, the NHL draft, a few trades, and a few free agent signings. Usually we have 4-6 weeks for this, or about the time a sprained knee heals. Now with things slowing down, we can move away from news and rumors and back to actual analysis. So let’s jump back to the 2021 draft and grade the Rangers picks. We will be giving quick blurbs and a grade for each pick, with longer scouting reports coming for each kid as more things slow down.
As an aside – thank you all for the support on this site. July was by far the best month ever here, by over 20%. In fact, the top ten traffic months have been in the past calendar year. I almost shut this place down two years ago, and now look at it. Unbelievable, and I cannot thank you all enough.
First Round – Brennan Othmann
The Rangers surprised many by not trading out of this slot, picking forward Brennan Othmann with the selection. As per usual, this was an off-the-social-media-board pick by the Rangers, which led to a few overreactions. I’d like to point out that aside from Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere, I can’t remember the last time the Rangers picked someone in the first round that social media was looking at.
Othmann is a solid pick and a pure shooter from the left side. His quick release, multiple shot options, and ability to change angles make him a dangerous scorer. He’s also a very strong kid who is very difficult to move off the puck. He gets into dirty areas and projects out as a work horse with scoring touch. He does need to get to a good skating coach, and an actual OHL season will help there.
Grade: B+, Chaz Lucius was still on the board which seems like a potential missed opportunity.
Third Round – Jayden Grubbe
With the pick acquired in the Jimmy Vesey trade, the Rangers selected center Jayden Grubbe, a big grinder, with this pick. The are some folks who, rightly, note that the only things said about Grubbe were about his work ethic and desire, and nothing about actual ability to play hockey. That was early on, but it is credible, especially when Grubbe was picked about 20 picks too early based on some boards. He’s a hard worker with some offensive skill, but his weakness is his shot.
Grade: C, this is a reach, but there’s skill here.
Third Round – Ryder Korczak
The Rangers traded up here, using the #80 and their 6th round pick to move up five spots to take skilled center Ryder Korczak. Korczak is the kind of pick I like, as he’s a great skater with solid offensive tools. He’s a solid playmaker who is efficient in all three zones. He will get stronger with age, so the size thing doesn’t really concern many. This is a good pick in the 75 pick range. Ryder was considered a top-50 pick on a lot of boards.
Grade: B, overall solid.
Fourth Round – Brody Lamb
The Rangers got this pick from the LA Kings in exchange for Brendan Lemieux, and used the pick on scoring winger Brody Lamb. Lamb is another pure sniper, and this might be your sleeper pick right here. Lamb put up a whopping 52 goals and 87 points in 24 high school games last year. While that’s just high school, the outrageous scoring totals usually translate well to the next level. He’s a project pick, but his ceiling is as high as they come. In terms of value, this is a great pick.
Fourth Round – Kalle Vaisanen
The Rangers got this pick from Ottawa in exchange for Vlad Namestnikov, and used the pick on Finnish forward Kalle Vaisanen. Vaisanen is a high floor, all around good hockey player. Typical Finn, he’s solid in all three zones and plays the game the right way. He’s good with the puck and has solid vision to go with his three zone play. He lacks an extreme ceiling like Lamb, but he’s your safe pick. This is the third pick in a row the Rangers really nailed.
Fourth Round – Talyn Boyko
The Rangers took big monster of a goalie Talyn Boyko. He’s big at 6’6″, and last year was a mess with COVID. He doesn’t really have great stats. I have no idea how to grade goalies. But there’s something off here, just seems odd.
Grade: D, but I reserve the right to fall back on not knowing how to judge goalies.
Fifth Round – Jaroslav Chmelar
The Rangers picked young but skilled Jaroslav Chmelar, who will likely be a bit of a project, but could be worth it. There’s not much here, but at least one Czech prospects site loves him. I’ll defer to them.
Seventh Round – Hank Kempf
The Rangers took defenseman Hank Kempf, a physical defenseman out of the USHL who is committed to Cornell next year. He’s a guy who lays out the body with reckless abandon. He doesn’t have much in terms of offensive numbers, and he’s a 7th round pick. He’s not your typical big dude the Rangers like to take. But like Chmelar, there’s not much on him.