The 2023 NHL Draft has come and gone, and the Rangers made 5 total picks with one minor trade to move up in the third round. We know the Rangers had a coup with Gabriel Perreault with their first round pick, but after that the Rangers largely avoided players with high end skill and seemed to play it safe. I’m no prospect expert, so my 2023 Rangers draft review is focused more on strategy. I defer to Will for player reviews.
Round 1: Gabriel Perreault – Grade: A+
The Rangers may have been saved from themselves with Charlie Stramel and Oliver Bonk being taken right before they picked. Instead, Gabriel Perreault slipped to them, and they didn’t hesitate to grab the highly skilled winger. Some had Perreault in the top ten, but for the most part he was a low-mid teens pick that fell all the way to #23.
Perreault is a homerun pick. He’s a Dan Muse disciple who will go to BC for the next two seasons at least before considering turning pro. Haters will say his skating is a problem, but it’s worth noting that scouting reports are mostly saying he needs to improve his top end speed, and that his edge work and other skating skills are fine. He will get that improvement at BC.
Perreault isn’t a perfect prospect by any means, but you don’t get those kinds of players in the 20s anyway. Perreault was the best player available by far, and the Rangers took him.
Round 3: Drew Fortescue – Grade: B
The Rangers get a solid B for the Drew Fortescue pick because, as mentioned, this 2023 Rangers draft review is less about the players and more about the strategy. There was a clear strategy with Fortescue, so much so that the Rangers sent a 2024 7th rounder to Pittsburgh to move up one spot to take him.
Fortescue is another Muse guy who is also going to BC with Perreault. Initial scouting reports have him as a steady defenseman, but not necessarily a big time puck mover or offensive defenseman. He’s steady, a good skater, and good in transition.
The strategy here was clear in selecting Muse guys, and it looked like the Rangers were all on the same page with the first two picks.
Round 5: Rasmus Larsson- Grade: C
There wasn’t much available on Rasmus Larsson for this 2023 Rangers draft review, so let’s keep it brief. The Rangers went with an over-ager (he’s 19) who put up 16 goals as a defenseman in Sweden’s J20 league last season. Larsson will head to Northern Minnesota College next year. The Rangers clearly liked something, and it’s hard to argue against the general Swedish defensive mindset.
The Rangers get a C because they have 4 years to wait and see with Larsson. Many weren’t high on Larsson, and say he doesn’t have a high ceiling. My issue is less on that –prospects are dart throws at this point– and more on the strategy. The Rangers seem to always take an over-ager and it rarely, if ever, works out.
I would have preferred a more high ceiling skill pick as a general strategy.
Round 6: Dylan Roobroeck – Grade: D
Round 6: Ty Henricks – Grade: D
I may be generous giving the Rangers a D with the Dylan Roobroeck and Ty Henricks picks. Neither of these guys are high end skill guys, and both are the standard “big guy skate bad” picks that the Rangers love to make in the late rounds. None of these have ever panned out. In fact, most players in these rounds that become regular NHLers lately are the undersized skill guys that fill out late.
Neither Roobroeck nor Henricks have a skill set worth talking about aside from size. That said, it is worth noting that Josh Khalfin has pointed out Roobroeck’s continued improvements and there are worse project picks.
Still, I’m not a big fan of the overall strategy of drafting for size instead of skill. It seems the Rangers want to draft those big role players, when they are normally found for cheap on the free agent market (Jimmy Vesey, Benoit Pouliot, Dominic Moore, etc). I’d prefer the homerun swing as opposed to size.
Again, my 2023 Rangers draft review is less about the players and more about the strategy. I defer to Will, Josh, and others who follow prospects much more closely on the specific players.
My preference for strategy is to aim high with the skill players, even if they are “under sized” by old school definitions. There’s no real difference between a kid who is 5’10 or 6’1. Three inches is negligible. Weight at 18 years old isn’t a factor either since these kids are still growing. Strength is what matters, not size, at least to me.
This is why I’m a little down on the last three picks. But the Rangers did well enough with Perreault and Fortescue that it’s an overall fine draft.