It’s September, and that means we are ramping up for New York Rangers training camp and preseasaon. As a lead up, it’s time for the 11th annual 2023 New York Rangers Top 25 Under 25. 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.
For the first six editions, this was broken down into two posts. The last four years the list was broken down into groups of five. The Rangers had added so many talented players under 25 years of age that it was the only logical thing to do. This year we will be doing the same. But first things first, let’s review who no longer qualifies for this list.
Aged Out (2): Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren
No longer with the Rangers (5): Nils Lundkvist, Vitali Kravtsov, Hunter Skinner, Lauri Pajuniemi, Jayden Grubbe
2022 Rankings: Honorable mentions, 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, 10-6, 5-1
There is significant turnover on this year’s list, with a whopping 7 (!) players from last year either aging out or no longer with the Rangers. It’s a little tougher to do this list now, as two years of trading picks and having top players age out has left the New York Rangers Top 25 Under 25 a little light on high end talent, especially outside the top-ten.
As a reminder, my personal rankings take into account kids playing in men’s leagues, so you may see a player or two on here that may not have a sexy stat line, but is a kid playing against grown men. That matters a lot, especially if they hold their own. The reverse is true as well, as big stat lines as an overager in the CHL or getting cut from Hartford last year negatively impacts rankings as well.
With that, let’s jump into the 2023 New York Rangers Top 25 Under 25. We start with the honorable mentions, in no particular order since there are only two of them.
1. Adam Edstrom – 2019 6th round pick (LY: HM)
Adam Edstrom is an interesting prospect. His size is what draws many to him, and at 6’8″, 225 lbs, this checks out. Believe it or not, Edstrom has some decent skating ability for his size, and he’s not just a lumbering goon up and down the ice. He uses his size, and it’s led to a few suspensions, but he’s got some skill to his game.
The ability for his size is what keeps him on the list. What should have dropped him off the list was getting cut from Hartford last season after three games. At 22 years old, this is when he should be transitioning to the AHL and getting used to the North American game. We’ve seen so many struggle with that adjustment –Kaapo Kakko comes to mind– and a season with the Wolf Pack, no matter how bad they were, would have helped.
If he doesn’t play in the AHL this year, he will likely never come to North America. There’s room for him, and hopefully with this renewed focus on the AHL, Edstrom sticks. At the very least, the Rangers need to see what they have.
2. Zakary Karpa – 2022 6th round pick (LY: Not Ranked)
It may seem odd to have Zakary Karpa and his 5-3-8 line in his sophomore year at Harvard on the list, and honestly I wasn’t sure if he should be an honorable mention. Even as I’m writing it, I’m teetering on whether this was the right move. But that 5-3-8 line was in 11 fewer games than his freshman year (6-6-12 in 33 games). If you average his sophomore year out to 33 games, that’s 8-5-13, which would be an improvement on his freshman year. Progress. Not perfection.
Karpa is a solid defensively minded center, but whether that translates to the NHL remains to be seen. Offensive stat lines are the biggest indicator of future success in the NHL, but there’s a niche for defensively minded players (Ryan Lindgren). He’s intriguing. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Both Edstrom and Karpa are 6th round picks, so it’s highly unlikely either make The Show, let alone both. So let’s level set on expectations.