We started the 2022 Rangers Top 25 Under 25 with the honorable mentions and numbers 25-21 last week. With camp opening soon, we will be running through the rest of the list this week. The ground rules for this list are simple. To qualify, 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.
Remember, this is not a prospect rankings. This list considers NHL players as well, since there are a whole bunch that are under 25 years old. As a personal preference, I do generally rank high ceiling players higher on the list than those who are “safe” or have bottom six projections. I also do heavily weight teenagers with regular minutes in pro leagues overseas, since that is not a common occurrence.
Aged Out (1): Julien Gauthier
No longer with the Rangers (2): Morgan Barron, Tarmo Reunanen, Evan Vierling
2022 Rankings: Honorable mentions, 25-21
2021 Rankings: Honorable mentions, 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, 10-6, 5-1
20. Hunter Skinner – Defense, 2019 4th round (LY: 20)
Hunter Skinner is an oft forgotten defenseman in the pipeline because of all the talent the Rangers have ahead of him on the depth chart. In terms of top defense prospects, Skinner is at best #4 on the list behind Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones, and Matthew Robertson. And that is ok!
Skinner transitioned nicely to the AHL last season, putting up 4-9-13 in 49 games while playing primarily in the bottom four with Hartford. He’s likely to get more minutes this year, with Nils Lundkvist requesting a trade and one of Zac Jones or Matthew Robertson likely to make the jump to the NHL next season. This opens potential top pair minutes for Skinner.
Skinner is another one of those kids that had his development derailed due to Covid, but he’s getting back on track with good play in Hartford. This is a big year for him though, as he’s already 21 years old and will need to make a big jump in development to potentially challenge for an NHL spot. He projects out as a bottom pair defenseman.
19. Bryce McConnell-Barker – Center, 2022 3rd round (LY: NR)
Bryce McConnell-Barker was a homerun swing by the Rangers at the draft, landing the former 4th overall pick in the OHL Draft. BMB had first round pedigree before Covid cancellations cost him his entire D-1 year. This is a common theme with all prospects in this draft range, but the OHL kids were hit a bit harder since their entire 2020-2021 season was cancelled.
BMB is a smooth skating center who is good in all three zones. Less is more with him, preferring a north-south style, which is a good fit with how Chris Drury and Gerard Gallant want their team to play. The fact that he’s this strong on defense already is a good sign, but there are questions about his offensive numbers and if they transition to the NHL.
BMB will have two more years in the OHL before he’s eligible to come to the AHL. His offensive numbers with Soo were a bit low (23-26-49 in 68 games), so this is a good measuring stick for his progression in the OHL. He projects to be a middle-six center, and naturally Anthony Cirelli is the ceiling here. He’s a kid worth keeping an eye on.
18. Brody Lamb, Forward – RW, 2021 4th round (LY: 18)
Ranking Brody Lamb ahead of BMB might raise eyebrows, but at this range in the rankings there isn’t a huge difference. You can flip them if you prefer. Lamb was a fantastic pick for the Rangers last year as another swing for the fences type pick. He’s extremely skilled, as his 52 goals and 87 points in 24 high school games in his draft year caught a lot of eyes.
But that’s high school, and it’s a big jump from high school to the USHL, and an even bigger one from the USHL to the University of Minnesota, where he will continue to develop. His 19-22-41 line with Green Bay in the USHL wasn’t what most had hoped, but that team was terrible and Lamb did all he could.
The big call out here is that Lamb had the highest NHL probability projection out of his draft year as you can get for a mid-round pick. This kid has potential through the roof, and a strong program like Minnesota will surely bring out the best and continue his development.
Lamb is a project pick though, having just turned 19 in August. Expect at least two years with Minnesota at a bare minimum, and like BMB, he’s a kid to watch.
17. Ryder Korczak – Forward, 2021 3rd round (LY: 17)
Ryder Korczak stays at #17 this year, but mostly because Adam Sykora was such a great pick and jumped ahead to #16. Korczak is a tremendously skilled player who has been over a point per game in the WHL for the last two seasons. He made big strides this past season, putting 25-54-79 in 68 games and rivaling the production of Will Cuylle and Brennan Othmann.
Despite the production being similar, both Cuylle and Othmann do project to be better, which is why they are ahead of Korczak here. To put it another way, we are talking about Othmann getting a long look in camp for 3LW, with Cuylle a potential dark horse. It is expected that Korczak is in the AHL for a full year this season.
Despite being behind that duo on the depth chart, Korczak still projects to be basically a coin flip to make it to the NHL. The ceiling is likely a middle six forward, but more realistically we are looking at a third liner who plays a 200 foot game with a scoring punch.
16. Adam Sykora – Forward, 2022 2nd round (LY: NR)
What a great pick Adam Sykora was for the Rangers. The youngest player in the draft, Sykora checks all the boxes you want for an annoying scoring forward. He’s talented, a strong skater, can put the puck in the net, is strong in all three zones, and just gets under your skin if you’re playing against him.
Sykora said he likes to model his game after Brad Marchand, so should he make The Show, he’s going to be beloved in New York and hated basically everywhere else. While it is extremely difficult to project NHLer/star probabilities, and these numbers do fluctuate a lot, Sykora was another player with a high NHL likelihood. He also has a higher than normal star likelihood.
Sykora just turned 18 last week, and was loaned back to Slovakia for this season. The Rangers aren’t going to rush him, but we will likely see him on the fast track to the AHL and NHL. It would not surprise me at all to see him with Hartford next season, or even this season if the timing lines up.