Yesterday was an exciting day, with Gabe Perreault falling to the Rangers at #23 overall. Today, the Rangers have 4 picks and don’t start until the third round. Naturally, there are some potential Rangers mid-round targets that could become bargains in these later rounds. These targets are based on a variety of rankings but mostly focused on Bob McKenzie’s draft rankings. You might notice a lot of players rated as high second-rounders are missing, mostly due to the lack of picks until the middle of the third round.
Gracyn Sawchyn, C/RW, (49): I would have been happy with Sawchyn as an upside swing at 23, as I think 49 is way too low for him. I think he goes in the second round, but in the event that he drops to the third, this would be a home run pick for the Rangers. Sawchyn is one of the most skilled players in this draft and pairs it with strong skating and a high compete level. If you want the Rangers to draft their version of Brayden Point, Sawchyn is that guy. He will be a riser in future redrafts, mark my works.
Nick Lardis, LW, (50): Lardis had a great second half of his draft season following a trade from Peterborough, posting 46 points in 33 games for Hamilton. The book on Lardis is that he is a really strong skater but is undersized with just OK compete. That combination means that people aren’t sure there is a path to the NHL for him, but I do think that he may not be getting enough credit for the second half he had. There is a pretty good chance he goes in the second round, but I could see him dropping further.
Hunter Bruzstewicz, RHD, (52): Brzustewicz was a pretty big prospect three years ago when he came into the NTDP. His first season was injury-riddled, and his U18 season was just ok. Instead of going the college route for his draft season, he signed with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL. 57 points in 68 games is nothing to scoff at, and the skating package is really enticing. But when he came into the NTDP people thought he would be a super dynamic defenseman for them and he didn’t live up to those expectations.
Jayden Perron, RW, (58): Perron is a really undersized player who led the Chicago Steel in scoring. Perron spent most of the season in the first round on public lists, with his skill and offensive sense being praised. But at barely 5’9″ with a style that some scouts regard as perimeter, his stock has dropped to the point that I think he might end up being a late third-rounder, which would put him in the Rangers’ draft range. I don’t see any way you can pass on a player with his skill set if he falls that far.
Will Whitelaw, RW, (65): Whitelaw played with Cole Eiserman and Macklin Celebrini (the projected top two picks in 2024) at Shattuck Saint-Mary. He is listed as a center but he is a very small player and from what I saw he mostly lined up as a right-wing. His path to the NHL has serious obstacles due to his size but you don’t pass up on PPG USHL players when they fall to the fourth and fifth rounds, which I could see happening to Whitelaw.
Alex Ciernik, LW, (75): I would not be surprised if Ciernik sneaked into the top of the second round. His skill set is very well rounded and he posted impressive numbers in a professional league (12 points in 25 Allsvenskan games). For some reason you almost never see him ranked in that range, but if he is available in the 3rd round he is the perfect player to take a chance on.
Aram Minnetian, RHD, (74): It was a weaker crop for the U18s this season but Aram Minnetian was this NTDP crop’s best defenseman and has a well-rounded toolkit that you could see translating to the NHL level. I thought he was a riser throughout this season, as he had a lot of questions coming into the year but has really rounded out his game, so seeing him as low as 74 was a bit of a shock. I think Minnetian is a safe bet to play in the NHL and I see his stock rising significantly next year at Boston College.
Trey Augustine, G, (63): I do not expect Trey Augustine to be available past the second round, and I think he might be the second goalie selected. Yes, Augustine was on a really strong team this season which certainly helped his numbers. But he played up with the U18s in his U17 season and did well, and he was Team USA’s starting goaltender at the World Juniors as a 17-year-old. That doesn’t just happen by mistake.
The big question with Augustine is whether can he play in the NHL at his size, but I don’t see that being an issue given how strong his sense is and his good athleticism. Augustine would be the long-term successor to Shesterkin if we drafted him with our third-round pick.
Cameron Allen, RHD, (76): Cam Allen came into this draft year looking like a solid first-round pick, winning the OHL Rookie of the Year Award in 21/22. At 6′ and almost 200 pounds, he looks like an NHL defenseman. But he really fell off this year and was making mistakes with the puck often. Allen carries risk but you would be betting on a toolsy player with some pedigree.
Roman Kantserov, RW, (69): Kantserov is an undersized player at 5’9″ but he has scored a ton in the MHL and has both excellent skating and a strong shot. He has pretty good hands and a good small-area game. I expect him to be a 5th or 6th-round pick, and he will require a lot of patience before making the step to the NHL. This would be a good bet on pure talent late in the draft.
Luca Cagnoni, LHD, (78): Cagnoni is an undersized but extremely mobile defenseman who posted an impressive season with the Portland Winterhawks, posting almost a point per game. He has a well-rounded toolkit, defending well while also providing a scoring threat from the point. The main knock against him is his size, but he is built pretty sturdy at 180 pounds.
Given that the Rangers only have one pick before the 5th round, I would be ecstatic if they could grab one of these players. As I said all year, we really could have restocked the pool in this draft if we kept our original four picks in the first 3 rounds, but I digress. Hopefully Drury can make a move to secure another player or two that sits high on the Rangers’ board.