Another draft has come and gone for the New York Rangers, and this was one of the most memorable I can think of aside from 2019 and 2020, with the Rangers selecting one of the steals of the draft in winger Gabe Perreault. While many may be down on the full Rangers 2023 draft recap, and after Perreault it was mildly underwhelming, Perreault easily makes it a good draft by the club.
For most of the season, I was in the camp arguing that the 22/23 edition of the New York Rangers was too inconsistent to be worth trading away our top picks in the draft. I realize that was unrealistic given the pressure on Drury, and ultimately that was not how it played out, with Drury moving the later first-round pick and the Rangers’ 2023 2nd round pick in deals for Tarasenko and Kane respectively.
While I appreciate the need to buy into this core group given their age, I can’t help but wonder just how rejuvenated the prospect pool would look if the Rangers had those 4 picks in the first three rounds. Instead, the Rangers had to make the most of their two premium picks.
Round 1, Pick 23: Gabe Perreault, W, US NTDP
Gabe Perreault was the clear best player available on the board, and I was literally praying that the Rangers would take him when they were on the clock. I could not believe he was available at 23, and I was shocked that he made it past a franchise as smart as the Minnesota Wild. There is a very realistic world where Perreault becomes a 70+ point forward, that opinion seems pretty much unanimous. Corey Pronman compares him to Lucas Raymond.
I am not getting my hopes up but there is a slam dunk pick here and he played for the NTDP
— Will Wright (@wwright88) June 29, 2023
His skating has improved a great deal as he has added strength at the NTDP, and will continue to do so at BC. The skill/sense/scoring combination is borderline top 5 in this loaded class. I don’t care how many points he scores next year, he needs two years at BC. But when he comes out of college hockey, the Rangers will have a likely top 6 forward on their hands.
Will’s Pick: Gabe Perreault
Round 3, Pick 90: Drew Fortescue, LHD, US NTDP
An example of what I, and presumably the Rangers, see in 3rd-round pick Drew Fortescue (#24). Stays with puck carriers and drives them wide until they're out of space. Uses size as leverage. Finds the quick outlets in the D-Zone. pic.twitter.com/EozKRrrLQI
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) June 29, 2023
Dan Muse was an excellent hire by Peter Laviolette, and it is clear that the Rangers have already taken his experience with the NTDP into account at this draft. Fortescue would not have been my pick at this slot, but I do like the player and think he could play bottom-pairing minutes at the NHL level if everything goes right. From the EliteProspect’s draft guide:
He’s basically a quarterback whenever he steps on the ice, making quick, play-advancing passes across the rink…The quarterback-like approach appears in Fortescue’s knack for finding teammates with short touch plays. They appear on the end boards, where he forgoes carries for quick passes along the boards, and on the breakout, where he turns pass receptions and steals into clean zone exits with medium-range feeds that slice through the forecheck. In the offensive zone, those plays are quick feeds to the inside after defenders overplay the shot threat.
He is going to need four years at Boston College, and while the skating isn’t great the rest of the toolkit is respectable enough that he can give himself a chance if he buckles down. My main issue with the pick is that it was Drury’s last chance to add a top 60 prospect, such as Perron or Minnetian, and he did not make an upside play.
Will’s Pick: Jayden Perron
Round 5, Pick 152: Rasmus Larsson, LHD, Vasteras
Not quite sure what it is with the Rangers and taking a liking to overage defensemen. But while I think Mancini was a pretty bad pick last year, I can see the logic in taking someone like Rasmus Larsson. Larsson is a big defenseman who can skate quite well, and he scored a lot in the Swedish junior league this past season.
Pronman had him ranked at 124, so in that sense, this is relatively good value. He is committed to playing at Northern Michigan University, although I am not sure if the plan is for him to come over for the 23/24 season (I would hope that is the case). With almost all of the higher upside picks off the board, this does not feel like a misguided selection. I go with Russian goalie Yegor Yegorov, who has a fun name and posted some impressive numbers in the MHL.
Will’s Pick: Yegor Yegorov
Round 6, Pick 178: Dylan Roobroeck, C, Oshawa Generals
After the 2022 draft, I criticized the Rangers’ late-round drafting strategy and the tendency to target slow, unskilled overagers. I am not claiming to have seen Dylan Roobroeck play extensively, and like I said last year, I hope the picks I don’t like prove me wrong. But drafting an overage forward who failed to score a point per game in a high-scoring junior league doesn’t inspire much hope. The only aspect of the pick that makes me a bit optimistic is that Roobroeck had a huge year-over-year scoring jump.
Will’s Pick: Connor Levis
Round 6, Pick 183: Ty Hendricks, LW, Muskegon Lumberjacks
I don’t know a lot about Hendricks, who is committed to Northern Michigan University just like Larsson. Considering his production in the USHL, it seems like he will need another year of juniors before heading off to NMU. It will be interesting to track his production next year, seeing as my choice here would have been Jack Harvey from the Chicago Steel, an overager who produced well in his D+1 and D+2 seasons in the USHL. Let’s see if Hendricks can follow a similar path.
Will’s Pick: Jack Harvey
In a draft where we had pretty limited resources, coming away with one of the highest-upside forwards in the draft and a potential bottom-pairing defenseman feels like an acceptable return. I am still not a fan of how the Rangers use their later-round draft picks, and I don’t think that should be a controversial take given we haven’t really seen any of our late-round picks pan out in recent years (fingers crossed for Brett Berard though).
But as a college hockey fan, I was already looking forward to watching Boston College next year and now I have even more reason to tune into their games. Stay tuned this summer for a deeper dive into the Rangers’ prospect system, as well as a bigger piece on the exciting Gabe Perreault!
Final Grade: B