Following up last week’s Part 1 of potential Rangers first round picks at #23, there are five more names that are intriguing for the Rangers at this spot. Assuming the Rangers keep this pick, they will likely get a solid prospect with a high ceiling, most likely three years away from being a legitimate NHL option. The big names will be gone, of course, but this is a loaded draft for a reason and all of these kids are considered great picks. Plus there’s a little bonus, with additional prospects that likely won’t fall to #23, but the Rangers might (should?) trade up for, should they fall to a reachable target pick.
I am not claiming to be an expert whatsoever on the players that I am about to write about. I simply don’t have enough time to be considered a “full-time scout,” or whatever. I am simply a prospect enthusiast, and if you have differing opinions on these players, please feel free to express them!
Potential Rangers first round picks (realistic)
Brayden Yager, C, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL), 6′ 165 lbs, 78 P in 67 GP
- Wheeler: 15
- Pronman: 16
- EP: 22
- Consolidated Ranking: 14
Coming into the year, Brayden Yager was seen as a potential top 5 pick and a lock for the top 10. He was the third overall pick in the loaded WHL Bantam draft that featured Bedard, Heidt, Benson, & Cristall, and he made an impact as soon as he stepped into the WHL, winning the CHL Rookie of the Year Award in 2021-22.
Yager didn’t really build off that season in the way that many had hoped, scoring fewer goals than last year but doubling his assist total, which has led to him dropping down boards a bit this season. That said, Yager is viewed as a very “pro-style” prospect with a translatable skillset and is still expected to be drafted before the Rangers are on the clock.
Yager is widely renowned for his compete level and shot; the two standout attributes he possesses. As you can see in the highlight video above, he is able to get his shot off in pretty much any scenario imaginable, and it is powerful and accurate.
The knock on Yager is that despite the superficial growth in his playmaking game, a look under the surface reveals that he has not really diversified his playmaking skill set. Corey Pronman has compared him to both Travis Konecny and Vincent Trocheck, and it is easy to see just how accurate those comparisons are; both players are good top-six contributors who compete hard and are goal threats, but you aren’t setting them up on the half-wall on the powerplay to create chances.
It may not have been the draft year that scouts and Yager hoped for, but if the Rangers come away from this draft with Brayden Yager Rangers fans should be very excited. He’s likely near the top of potential Rangers first round picks that should please every fan.
Eduard Šalé, RW, HC Kometa Brno (Czechia), 6’1″ 168 lbs, 14 P in 43 GP
- Wheeler: 14
- Pronman: 24
- EP: 25
- Consolidated Ranking: 12
Eduard Šalé is another potential Rangers first round pick who came into the year looking like a lock to be a top-10 pick. He scored at a historic pace in the Czech U-20 league last season, posting 89 points in 39 games, and he even put up a few points during his cameo with the men’s team.
This season has been a bumpier road for Šalé, posting 14 points in 43 games (a fine return) with the men’s team, as scouts found his compete level lacking. On pure tools and talent, Šalé would probably be a guaranteed top-10 pick. He is extremely toolsy, scoring a 6 or higher on all of EliteProspects’ tool grading system.
Šalé is yet another prospect that might be gone when the Rangers pick at 23, but I think the questions surrounding his competitiveness will lead to him dropping near our range. I do think that there is an aspect of the criticism that can simply be chalked up to over-scouting as Šalé has been on the radar for years; take a look at the narrative around Matvei Michkov this year, one of the most gifted prospects to enter the draft since McDavid.
This would be a huge upside swing by the Rangers, but the questions about his motor and competitiveness mean there is a good chance that he could flame out. This looks like the highest ceiling/highest bust risk of all the potential Rangers first round picks.
Bradly Nadeau, RW/LW, Penticton Vees (BCHL), 5’11” 180, 113 P in 54 GP
- Wheeler: 22
- Pronman: 36
- EP: 35
- Consolidated Ranking: 39
Bradly Nadeau torched the BCHL this past season playing on a line with his older brother, and he has established himself as a first-round prospect. I fully expect Nadeau to be available when the Rangers are on the clock, and his toolkit is probably the most dynamic of the players listed thus far.
Nadeau is a strong skater and has an excellent motor, which has made him a really threatening player at the junior level. His shot is what he is known for and for good reason, as he might have the best shot in the draft after Connor Bedard, and he is a very skilled player.
I think some of the rankings that have Nadeau just outside the first round are punishing him for the struggles of other players to come out of the BCHL. Tyson Jost and Alex Newhook have not lived up to the hype (although it is still early for Newhook), but that does not mean that Nadeau should be punished as he is a very different player to Jost and Newhook.
I like his development path, as he will feature heavily for the Maine Black Bears next season in a competitive NCAA conference. For Rangers fans, the big appeal with Nadeau is going to be the skill/shot combination, which is a skill combination the Rangers did not target enough during the rebuild.
David Edstrom, C, Frölunda (SHL), 6’3″ 187 lbs, 4 P in 11 GP
- Wheeler: 49
- Pronman: 18
- EP: 42
- Consolidated Ranking: 62
The book on David (not Adam) Edstrom is that he is not a particularly sexy prospect, but his size, skating, skill, and compete level combine to make him a very intriguing prospect. For context, the comparison Corey Pronman made is Joel Eriksson-Ek, who took a while to produce but broke the 60-point threshold this season and is a reliable presence for a good Wild team.
Despite being a clear riser this season, and capping off the year with a very strong performance at the U18 World Juniors, I don’t think Edstrom would be much of an upside play by Drury. Edstrom would be an unexciting pick but would also be a relatively safe bet to play games and contribute in a positive way, potentially taking over the 3C when Trocheck’s trade restrictions loosen.
Otto Stenberg, C/LW, Frölunda (SHL), 5’11” 180 lbs, 3 P in 23 GP
- Wheeler: 28
- Pronman: 28
- EP: 36
- Consolidated Ranking: 23
Stenberg was Edstrom’s teammate at Frölunda and linemate at the U18 tournament. He is listed as a center, but his size and playstyle indicate that he is far more likely to be a winger at the professional level. If Edstrom is the unsexy prospect lacking a dynamic skill, Stenberg is the one with the exciting skillset.
He is a highly skilled puck handler and processes the game at a high level. Stenberg is widely regarded as having an above-average shot for this draft class, making him a multi-threat prospect with the platform to potentially become a top-six contributor.
While he may not have Edstrom’s height, his build makes me confident that his height will not hold him back at the next level. I know that Rangers fans are hesitant to take another player who likely projects as a left winger, but all of these prospects at this stage of the draft will take around three years to start making an impact at the NHL level, and Stenberg has the skill to excite Rangers fans.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
Gabe Perreault, LW, NTDP (USHL), 5’11” 165, 132 P in 63 GP
- Wheeler: 7
- Pronman: 12
- EP: 18
- Consolidated Ranking: 20
We are now getting more into the “we wish” area for potential Rangers first round picks.
For much of the season, it looked like Gabe Perreault would be available in the range that we are selecting. The knock on him has always been that despite his production, he was too undersized and not a good enough skater to have his game translate. Those criticisms still exist, but Perreault also blew all expectations people had of him out of the water this season.
Perrault broke Auston Matthews’ record and posted the highest-scoring season in NTDP history. Yes, he accomplished it on the best line in Junior hockey, but that is already being accounted for as he is universally the third-ranked player from that line with Will Smith and Ryan Leonard.
Consequentially, he has risen on a lot of draft boards and it is extremely unlikely that he is available. But if he is, the Rangers have to take him. Perreault may not be the best skater but his production cannot be ignored, and his skill level/intelligence combination would make him a borderline top 5 pick if he were two inches taller. He will spend next season at Boston College likely on a line with Smith and Leonard, and do not be surprised if Perreault is the highest-scoring of the three.
Nate Danielson, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), 6’1″ 185, 78 P in 68 GP
- Wheeler: 20
- Pronman: 7
- EP: 26
- Consolidated Ranking: 16
This is incredibly unlikely, as Danielson is likely a top-10 pick, but some of the public scouting rankings have him in the Rangers’ range so he is at least worth mentioning. Danielson is the definition of a pro-style center prospect. He is big, skilled, a good skater for his size, and looks like he will be able to handle all situations minutes at the pro level. Far worse center prospects than him have gone high in the draft.
The question public scouts have about him is the lack of true dynamic skill, which leads them to believe that he is most likely a middle-six forward. That being said, Pronman has him ranked seventh and rates his skill and shot as above average. In short, it is unlikely that Danielson is available past pick 10. But if the public lists and the team lists align closer to draft day, its possible he slips more than I am anticipating.
Oliver Moore, C, NTDP (USHL), 5’11” 176 lbs, 75 P in 61 GP
- Wheeler: 9
- Pronman: 19
- EP: 8
- Consolidated Ranking: 9
Based on actual draft rankings, it is not out of the question that Oliver Moore could still be on the board at 23 and be a potential Rangers first round pick. He is widely mocked as going to Nashville at pick 15, so slipping further in a range with so many divergent opinions is possible. But Moore has a tool that literally nobody in this draft can match, and that is his skating ability.
Moore is the best skater in this draft and the closest thing we have seen to Jack Hughes’ skating ability since his draft. Elite Prospects scored him an 8.5 out of 9. Not only is he the best skater in this draft, but he is an extremely skilled player who also possesses a weapon of a shot and a high compete level. Given the issues the Rangers have with perceived slowness, Moore is the potential Rangers first round pick that addresses these issues the best.
While his production may not stand out too much, it is important to remember that he was USA’s 2C behind Will Smith and was not on the first powerplay unit either. His linemates this season were not near his skill or speed level, and I think he might get punished for that on draft day. I know I already said this about Perreault, but if Moore is available at 23 you have to take him. In fact, if he is available in the late teens I think you have to trade up to get him.
I just went through 13 potential picks for our draft slot and honestly, there are several other players who could be contenders. I know that there are no defensemen listed here, but I honestly don’t see any of the players in this range as being worth it over the forwards aside from maybe Tanner Molendyk or Lukas Dragicevic.
Forwards like Fisker-Molgaard, Ethan Gauthier, Quentin Musty (who I have covered before), and Charlie Stramel are also serious, strong options. The point is, this is a really strong draft with a ton of interesting options in this range, all with legitimate merits.
Don’t get too attached to one player in particular given the unpredictability. The Rangers are going to add a very good prospect to a pool that needs to be rejuvenated. I will be back closer to draft day with some mid-round targets, and will provide coverage on draft day as well! You can follow me on Twitter at @wwright88