9th Annual NY Rangers Top 25 Under 25: Numbers 5-1

adam fox

It’s time to wrap up the NY Rangers Top 25 Under 25. The top five today shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, as it is basically a repeat of last year’s. 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.

Since it looks like people are unfamiliar with this, let’s recap how players are evaluated.

  • Current production at the NHL level matters, as does age. A 24 year old with little NHL production with the same skill set of a 19 year old will be ranked lower based on ceiling alone. Late bloomers are exceedingly rare, and this is weighted as such.
  • Ceiling matters, thus skill players are usually ranked higher. Potential top-six players will always be ranked higher than potential grinders.
  • When it comes to prospects, the league they are playing in does matter, as does when they were selected. We all like Brody Lamb, but he won’t be rank too high yet since he doesn’t have any experience outside of high school and wasn’t a high-end pick.
  • Kids playing in adult leagues early in their careers, as noted with Leevi Aaltonen, will generally rank higher because it shows they outplayed developed adults to make the team and get minutes.
  • This is not a prospects ranking. This is not an NHL production ranking. It is a combined “full picture” view of each player. Where they were drafted, current production, current league, skill set, ceiling, development path, etc.

Reviewing who we’ve covered already:

Aged Out (2): Igor Shesterkin, Alex Georgiev 
No longer with the Rangers (4): Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, Yegor RykovBrett Howden
2021 Rankings: Honorable mentions25-2120-1615-11, 10-6
2020 RankingsHonorable mentions25-2120-1615-1110-65-1

5. Nils Lundkvist – Defense, 2018 first round pick (LY: 7)

Nils Lundkvist has been deemed untouchable in most trades by the Rangers, and with good reason. He was one of the best defensemen in the SHL last season, and the hype of him signing with the Rangers has gone into overdrive. He’s likely to make the team out of camp and get eased into the North American game on the third pair. But also expect him to be out there on the powerplay initially, and likely on the penalty kill after a few months.

Lundkvist is the real deal, and his ceiling is a top pair defenseman. He’s a three zone, three strength player who will likely be in the top four for the Rangers within the next two years. No prospect is a sure thing, but Lundkvist has already shown he can dominate the SHL as a kid, so the NHL is next.

4. K’Andre Miller – Defense, 2018 1st round pick (LY: 5)

K’Andre Miller has all the tools to supplant Ryan Lindgren as the top LD on the team. He’s big, fast, has solid positioning, and great instincts. His rookie year last year went about as expected, with flashes of greatness to match the clear rookie mistakes. This is a kid that is raw talent being molded into a solid NHLer with a top pair ceiling, but likely a top four regular.

Miller simply just needs time. He’s a raw talent who just switched to defense. Remember how rough Brent Burns was just after his shift to defense? Same concept, although different players, of course.

3. Kaapo Kakko – Forward, 2019 1st round pick (LY: 4)

Kaapo Kakko had a brutal rookie season, but pulled a full 180 last year. He cemented himself as one of the best defensive forwards in the game as a second year pro. Now with top six ice time and powerplay time likely, the points should follow. We’ve seen the flashes of offensive dominance, and now with ab uptick in ice time and quality of teammates, he is poised for a breakout season.

2. Alexis Lafreniere – Forward, 2020 1st round pick (LY: 1)

Alexis Lafreniere is likely to be the best forward on the team within the next three seasons (coinciding with an eventual Artemiy Panarin aging curve). The only reason why he’s not #1 on this list is because Fox won the Norris in his sophomore season.

With Kakko, Lafreniere, and Fox, the Rangers have an elite trio of core players. These three will carry the workload for the next decade, with Igor Shesterkin.

1. Adam Fox – Defense, trade from Carolina (LY: 2)

Adam Fox is the best defenseman in the NHL, won the Norris Trophy, is still under 25 years old, and is still shy of his ceiling. Do we need anything else to explain why he’s #1 on this list?