Potential Rangers draft targets in the first round
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Premium center prospects. Every team and fanbase wants them, but few can actually draft them. Finding a good center is extremely difficult; in my opinion, it is the most challenging position to draft for. The position requires an incredibly refined, diverse skillset to succeed in the NHL. The position should be a top priority for potential Rangers draft targets, but drafting for position can lead to some poor picks.

It is unlikely the Rangers select their next 1C with the 30th pick, and I do not believe they should take a center for the sole purpose of adding a center to the prospect pool. But there are a handful of options with legitimate upside who could fill a valuable role once Trocheck and Mika decline in a couple years. I am grouping the players by the likelihood they will be available.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance…?

Michael Hage – RHC – Chicago Steel (USHL)
  • Pronman: 25
  • Wheeler: 15
  • EliteProspects: 24
  • Consolidated Ranking: 21

Last year I identified Gabe Perreault as the Rangers dreamland pick. I hope that lightning will strike twice, as Michael Hage falls into the same category this year. Hage really has it all as a prospect. He is big, can skate extremely well, is supremely skilled, and is an excellent goal scorer. He also comes with an excellent pedigree, as he would have been the top pick in the OHL draft if the Steel hadn’t poached him.

Hage finished fourth in USHL scoring with 75 points in 54 games. I see a toolsy player who has been undervalued throughout the process due to his injury last season. He has been a riser recently and I doubt he makes it past pick 20, but if he does…

Jett Luchanko – RHC – Guelph Storm (OHL)
  • Pronman: 19
  • Wheeler: 31
  • EliteProspects: 34
  • Consolidated Ranking: 26

While the consolidated ranking leaves some hope that Luchanko will be available, I am not optimistic that he will fall. Luchanko is one of the best skaters in the draft and is known for his extremely high compete level. His first season in the OHL was underwhelming with just 14 points in 46 games, but he became a very productive player in his second season, posting 74 points in 68 games.

That kind of production jump bodes very well for his development. Pairing his skillset with a standout season makes his availability unlikely, but if he does fall to the Rangers he would be a potential long-term replacement for Trocheck.

Sacha Boisvert – LHC – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
  • Pronman: 27
  • Wheeler: 24
  • EliteProspects: 21
  • Consolidated Ranking: 20

Boisvert joined Hage as one of the recent top Canadian prospects to defect to the USHL to pursue the college route. He was the second-leading scorer at Mount St. Charles, trailing only the presumptive 2025 1st Overall pick James Hagens, and has followed that up with two very productive seasons in the USHL.

While Boisvert lacks the speed and skill of players like Hage and Luchanko, he is an extremely well-rounded prospect and has an outstanding shot. He did struggle to produce in the playoffs this season, which may cause a slight drop, but worse center prospects than Boisvert have gone quite a bit higher than he is projected to.

Realistic Targets

Dean Letourneau – RHC – St. Andrews College (Prep)
  • Pronman: 28
  • Wheeler: 45
  • EliteProspects: 32
  • Consolidated Ranking: 41

Letourneau is simultaneously one of the most well-known prospects in this class while being the top prospect that people aren’t sure what to make of. The 6’7″ forward has honed his craft at St. Andrews College, a prep hockey factory that has produced NHLers including Warren Foegele, Alex Newhook, and former Ranger Morgan Barron. The comparables for Letourneau range from Tage Thompson to Riley Tufte, and while a Nick Bjugstad comparison seems a bit more likely, it is challenging to measure his skill level because of the quality of competition.

Letourneau underwhelmed in his two USHL contests this year, but it seems harsh to hold that against him. While he was originally slated to play a full season in the USHL next year before moving on to Boston College, Will Smith’s departure accelerated his matriculation so he will be thrown into NCAA hockey next year. There is risk attached to this pick, but Letourneau would be an exciting upside swing. 6’7″ centers who can skate and have NHL-level skill do not come around often.

Cole Beaudoin – LHC – Barrie Colts (OHL)
  • Pronman: 20
  • Wheeler: 37
  • EliteProspects: 29
  • Consolidated Ranking: 35

Beaudoin is a poor skater but he pairs prototypical size with a great shot and excellent competitive drive, making him an appealing prospect. I can see the argument for him being in the tier above this because it is unlikely he is available, but I think pick 30 is around where he should go based on skill. I don’t think there would be much upside with this pick, but the likely outcome would be a 3C who can contribute on the penalty kill while chipping in 40ish points and that is something you can live within this range.

Yegor Surin – LHC – Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
  • Pronman: 31
  • Wheeler: 41
  • EliteProspects: 63
  • Consolidated Ranking: 39

My guess is that Pronman is much closer to being aligned with the NHL on Surin than EliteProspects. Surin is a 6’1″ 190-pound center who plays with excellent pace and skill and is one of the youngest players in the draft. He had a great second half of the season, which leads me to believe he is a riser on NHL draft boards.

Surin does have a contract until 2026 but I don’t foresee that being an issue. He did predominately play on the wing this season but pretty much every analyst believes he will be a center long-term. His high compete level coupled with his well-rounded skill set fits the mold of Drury draft picks. I can see the Rangers being high on Surin.

Potential Reach but Who Knows?

Linus Eriksson – LHC – DjurgĆ„rdens (HockeyAllsvenskan)
  • Pronman: 26
  • Wheeler: 47
  • EliteProspects: 74
  • Consolidated Ranking: 54

Eriksson is an average-sized center who played 29 games in the Swedish 2nd tier and posted a respectable 11 points. Scouts like his skill/skating/compete combination, but it seems like there are some questions about how he creates offense translating to the next level.

Julius Miettinen – LHC – Everett Silvertips (WHL)
  • Pronman: 33
  • Wheeler: 69
  • EliteProspects: 43
  • Consolidated Ranking: 46

Miettinen is a 6’3″ center with a very complete skill set but lacking a standout tool. He likely best projects as a 3rd line center who can play wing.

Luke Misa – LHC – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
  • Pronman: Not Ranked
  • Wheeler: 50
  • EliteProspects: 58
  • Consolidated Ranking: 49

I have no idea why Misa – the older brother of Michael Misa (2025) – is not ranked by Pronman. I have tried to ask him several times but never received a response. It must have been a mistake because Misa was an extremely productive player in the OHL and is unanimously seen as one of the best skaters in the draft. He is one of the older players in the draft and underwhelmed in his first two OHL seasons, but his production jump this year was very encouraging and would make him a worthwhile swing. T

hat being said, I would be more comfortable drafting him with a second-rounder.

Stay tuned for the final prep piece for pick 30, which will feature winger targets! Following day one of the draft next week, I will also have a piece on later-round targets for the Rangers.

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