Drafting Skills: New York Rangers

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

New York Rangers

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – J.T. Miller (C) 15th overall – Miller is coming off another strong campaign for the Rangers, in which he scored 22 goals for the 2nd year in a row, and added 34 assists to pass the 50 points plateau for the first time.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to Calgary in a package that brought in Tim Erixon. The pick was used to take Markus Granlund. Even though Granlund hasn’t turned out to be as good as expected, Erixon was worse. Bad trade.

Round 3 – Steven Fogarty (F) 72nd overall – Fogarty played in his first pro-season this past year, in the AHL adding 20 points in 66 games. He played 4 seasons for Notre Dame, never mscoring more than 23 points. He’s already 24 years old, so it’s hard to see him growing into anything more than a minor league player.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Brady Skjei (D) 28th overall – Skej played his first full season in the NHL this year, after appearing in 7 games last year. He finished the year with 39 points in 80 games, and played a very solid defensive game for a team that needs all the help it can get in that area. With many calling for buyouts of either/or both of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, Skjei should see increased ice-time next season. He looks like he’ll be a mainstay in the top-4 for NY for the near future.

Round 2 – Cristoval “Boo” Nieves (C) 59th overall – I have a hard time taking anyone with the nickname “Boo” seriously. Nieves played in 40 games at the AHL level this year, and scored only 18 points. He’s a big centre at 6’3” and 200+ pounds, but I can’t imagine he’ll ever make an impact at the NHL level. He appeared in one game this year, and appears he’ll be nothing more than a depth call-up. To make matters worse, Damon Severson was taken immediately after Nieves and has already eclipsed the 200 games played mark.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to the Predators who used this pick to take Brendan Leipsic, for a 3rd round pick in 2013 (Tambellini). Both are current AHL players, however Tambellini had 35 points this year in 65 games, while Leipsic had 51 points in 49 games. Leipsic is likely an NHL player as early as next year, Tambellini is not. Bad trade.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded in part of the Rick Nash trade. Nash has been a focal part of the Rangers offence since this trade. While he’s had his struggles, I give this trade a pass, as they also received the 3rd round pick in this draft (Buchnevich).

Round 2 – Pick was traded to San Jose for Ryan Clowe. He put up 8 points in 12 games, and 2 in 5 playoff games. Overall it was a fair trade, as the Rangers were going all-in this year.

Round 3 – Adam Tambellini (C) 65th overall – Tambellini is coming off his 2nd AHL season, which saw him score 35 points in 68 games. He also finished with a -34 rating. While I don’t like that stat, it’s really hard to ignore a -34 rating. There’s no way he makes it to the NHL with play like that.

Round 3 – Pavel Buchnevich (RW) 75th overall – Buchnevich made his NHL debut this year, and didn’t look out of place at all. In his first year in North America, he gave the Rangers 20 points in 41 games. He found himself a healthy scratch at times, but has a great playmaking ability that should make him a mainstay in the NHL for years to come. This is a great find in the 3rd round for the Rangers.

Round 3 – Anthony Duclair (LW) 80th overall – Duclair looked like an absolute steal in his first 2 seasons in the NHL. He was traded to the Coyotes in the package that brought in Keith Yandle. In his first full season in the NHL he had 44 points in 81 games, before crashing down to earth this year with 15 in 58 games before being demoted to the AHL. He then scored 1 goal in 18 AHL games to finish the year. The Coyotes are hoping he will rebound next year. Meanwhile, Yandle played nearly 1.5 seasons in New York, before being shipped to Florida for a 6th round pick in 2015, and a 4th rounder in 2017. He had 58 points in 103 games for the Rangers. This trade worked out well for both sides.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded as part of the big trade that sent out Callahan and brought in Martin St. Louis. This was a big trade for the Rangers. St. Louis had a great end of the year for the Rangers, before being their best player in their long playoff run. He followed that up with 52 points the next year. The downside of this trade is that this pick was used to select Josh Ho-Sang, who looks like a surefire NHL top-6 player.

Round 2 – Brandon Halverson (G) 59th overall – Making his pro debut this year, Halverson had awful numbers. He finished the year with 26 games at the AHL level, posting a GAA of 3.45 and a SV% of 0.887. The King is likely on his last legs, leaving an opening in the next couple of years at the NHL level, but with numbers like those, Halverson will need to drastically improve his play in hopes of ever making it to the tops.

Round 3 – Keegan Iverson (C) 85th overall – Iverson finished his 5th WHL season with 70 points in 55 games. Those numbers are good, but are not that impressive for a 20 year old in junior hockey. He’s a massive size to be skating with teenagers, and his previous high in points was 42 in 67 games back in 2013-2014. It’s tough to say what’s next for Iverson, but it’s not likely a spot on either the AHL or NHL team.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded also as part of the St. Louis/Callahan trade. Another good player was selected here in Anthony Beauvillier.

Round 2 – Ryan Gropp (LW) 41st overall – Gropp just finished his 4th WHL season with 84 points in 66 games. As was the case with Iverson, Gropp is a big kid playing in his 20s with teenagers. 84 points is good, but not a sign of greatness. He has scored at least 30 goals in 3 of his 4 years in junior, so there’s hopes that he can carry that with him as he moves to the next chapter of his career. He will likely get a shot at the AHL level this year, but definitely shouldn’t be on the radar for the NHL squad.

Round 3 – Robin Kovacs (RW) 62nd overall – Kovacs made his way to North America this year, playing in 72 games in the AHL. In those 72 games, he scored 2 goals and 12 points. Add in a -27 rating, those are disastrous numbers. Could he just need time to adjust to the smaller ice surface? One would have hoped he would have figured that out by mid-season. This looks like a miss for NY.

Round 3 – Sergey Zborovskiy (D) 79th overall – He’s a big guy at 6’4”, and just finished his 3rd WHL season with 40 points in 63 games. Those are great numbers for a d-man. He’s 20 years old, and can play next season in the AHL. I’d slot him in for a spot to start next year to see how he can adapt to playing against men, and to see if he can develop into an NHLer.

Round 3 – Aleksi Saarela (C) 89th overall – He was traded to Carolina as part of the Eric Staal trade. Saarela made his way over from Finland this year and suited up in 9 AHL games, scoring 6 goals. That’s a fantastic start. Eric Staal only scored 3 goals and 6 points in 20 games for the Rangers. To give up a growing prospect like Saarela, along with a 2nd round pick is a lot for someone who flopped that badly.

The Rangers haven’t had a great 5-year span of drafts. There are a couple bright spots in Brady Skjei, JT Miller and Pavel Buchnevich. Other than that, they haven’t gotten much. They’ve been a top team in these years, which has held them to the lower end of each round, and they’ve traded away quite a few of their picks. None of their trades have panned out exactly as they’d hoped, which is another bad sign that there are tough times coming for Rangers fans.

Sources: www.hockeydb.com ; http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years/index.htm

Playoff Predictions 2017 – Round 2

NHL Playoffs 2017: Round 1 Predictions

Let’s take a stab at predicting round 2 of the 2017 NHL Playoffs, but first let’s recap my Round 1 predictions.

Eastern Conference

(1) Washington Capitals vs (WC2) Toronto Maple Leafs

My Pick: Caps in 5; Actual: Caps in 6

(2) Ottawa Senators vs (3) Boston Bruins

My Pick:  Bruins in 6; Actual: Sens in 6

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs (WC1) New York Rangers

My Pick: Canadiens in 6; Actual: Rangers in 6

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (3) Columbus Blue Jackets

My Pick: Pens in 5; Actual: Pens in 5

Western Conference

(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs (WC2) Nashville Predators

My Pick: Predators in 7; Actual: Preds in 4

(2) Minnesota Wild vs (3) St. Louis Blues

My Pick: Wild in 7; Actual: Blues in 5

(1) Anaheim Ducks vs (WC1) Calgary Flames

My Pick:  Ducks in 6; Actual: Ducks in 4

(2) Edmonton Oilers vs (3) San Jose Sharks

My Pick: Sharks in 6 games; Actual: Oiler s in 6
Not too bad considering the amount of upsets there ending up being.  Here is what we have going on in Round 2:

Eastern Conference

Ottawa Senators vs New York Rangers

I was surprised that the Senators were able to get by the Bruins in round 1. Erik Karlsson has been outstanding, by far the best player in the playoffs for the Sens. But not too far behind him is Bobby Ryan, who has come up with huge goals for the Sens. The problem? King Hank has been great, back to his old form for the Rangers. They were able to fight off the Habs in round 1, but they’re in for a more offensive team in this round. That being said, Hank likely knows he doesn’t have many more chances to get to the Cup final, and I expect him to continue to get better as this series goes on. I really like their chances of knocking off Ottawa.

My Pick: Rangers in 5

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals

The Caps were pushed hard in the first round, whereas the Pens had a fairly easy time dismissing the Jackets. The Pens are similar to the Leafs in terms of speed, and are likely better defensively. They won’t threaten the Caps as much with scoring depth, as it will come mostly from the top two lines on Pittsburgh. That being said, we’ve seen this many times before. The Pens always seem to come out on top. I would really love to see Ovi win a Cup, but I’m going to go with history here and pick the Penguins. Even without Letang, they have to be considered the favourites in the East. Whoever comes out of this series will likely have a much easier Conference final as they’re both superior to the Rangers and Sens.

My Pick: Pens in 7

Western Conference

St. Louis Blues vs Nashville Predators

I picked the Preds to come out on top in round 1, but didn’t expect them to handle Chicago so easily. The difference maker in this series could be Jake Allen. He carried the Blues through round 1, as they got badly outplayed in a couple games. Nashville boasts one of the strongest bluelines in all of hockey, but they lack depth scoring up front. The Blues will need a big series out of Allen again, as well as magic from Vladimir Tarasenko. The Predators need to just continue their play from the first round and they should be just fine. They’re my pick to win it all at this point.

My Pick:  Nashville in 6

Edmonton Oilers vs Anaheim Ducks

I was surprised the Oilers got past San Jose. Cam Talbot had a great series, but it didn’t help the Sharks that they were playing hurt. Anaheim is a big strong team, and you have to believe Ryan Kesler will be all over McDavid. If there’s one person who can throw McDavid off of his game it could be Kesler. The Oilers are going to have to hope he can get away from Kesler as much as possible, because if not, they have no hope in this series.

My Pick: Ducks in 6

Monday Pickups – March 13th

Let’s recap on the players I suggested for pickups 2 weeks ago, didn’t have time to post a new article last week so I’ll play this like I had the same pickups for 2 weeks in a row:

  1. Travis Zajac (NJD) – 6 GP – 1 Goal/ 1 Assist/ -2/ 5 SOG
  2. Frank Vatrano – 6 GP – 0 Goals/ 1 Assist / +1/ 9 SOG
  3. Sebastian Aho (CAR) – 7 GP – 3 Goals/ 2 Assists/ +1/ 21 SOG
  4. Nick Schmaltz (CHI) – 4 GP – 0 Goals/ 2 Assists/ EVEN/ 7 SOG
  5. Mathieu Perreault (WPG) – 6 GP – 1 Goal/ 4 Assists/ +2/ 9 SOG

The bye-week is over for this year, with quite a few teams have 4 games this week. Carolina is playing 5 games in 7 nights.

Waiver-Wire Pickups (Percentages owned are via Fantrax.com)

1) Sebastian Aho (Forward – 71%) – Aho has been playing quite well lately for the Canes, and with 5 games in 7 nights he’ll be seeing plenty of action. He’s near the top of owned-percentage but if he’s available in your league, pick him up. He could be the difference late in your fantasy season.

Matchups this week: NY Islanders (x2), Minnesota, Nashville, Philadelphia

2) James Reimer (Goalie – 55%) – Reimer has been the man in Florida for a couple weeks now, with Luongo on the shelf with an injury. Reimer has been known in his career as a streaky goalie, and coming off 3 losses he should be due for an upswing. With Florida still hanging on to playoff hopes, they’ll need big games out of Reimer.

Matchups this week: Toronto, Columbus, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh

3) Antti Raanta (Goalie – 61%) – King Hank was just diagnosed with an injury that will keep him out of the lineup for the next 2-3 weeks. During that time, Raanta will be the man in New York. He’s played very well all season, and has taken on heavy workloads in the past. Snatch him up if he’s out there.

Matchups this week: Tampa Bay, Florida, Minnesota

4) Gustav Nyquist (Forward – 61%) – Since coming back from his suspension (which was FAR too little), he’s been playing better hockey. In those 5 games, he has 6 points. Not outstanding numbers, but he’s been having a terrible year. The Red Wings in general have been having an awful year, but with Vanek traded out at the deadline, Nyquist is seeing increased time. He’s worth a gamble in most leagues. The Wings have an outstanding schedule this week as well.

Matchups this week:  Colorado (x2), Arizona

5) Andrew Ladd (Forward – 49%) – Ladd is having a terrible year, especially after signing the big deal this summer with the Islanders. He’s been a different player lately though, with points in 3 straight games. He’s been playing his best hockey at a time of year when the Islanders need it the most. If they’re going to make the playoffs they’ll need even more out of him.

Matchups this week: Carolina (x2), Winnipeg, Columbus

*Percentages per Fantrax.com*

Monday Pickups – Feb 27/2017

Let’s recap on the players I suggested for pickups last week (not a great week, not bad for depth players either):

  1. Martin Hanzal (ARZ) – 3 GP – 1 Goal/ 1 Assist/ -1/ 9 SOG
  2. Jimmy Vesey (NYR) – 4 GP – 0 Goals/ 2 Assist /EVEN/ 5 SOG
  3. Michael Stone (CGY) – 4 GP – 0 Goals/ 2 Assists/ +4/ 7 SOG
  4. Jakob Chychrun (ARZ) – 4 GP – 2 Goals/ 1 Assist/ -1/ 3 SOG
  5. Travis Zajac (NJD) – 2 GP – 1 Goal/ 2 Assists/ -2/ 5 SOG

Let’s see who’s playing/not playing a lot this week:

Teams Playing 4 games:

  • Arizona
  • Buffalo
  • Carolina
  • Colorado
  • Columbus
  • Los Angeles
  • Minnesota
  • Montreal
  • New Jersey
  • Pittsburgh
  • Tampa Bay
  • Vancouver

Teams Playing only 2 or less (bye week) games:

  • Anaheim
  • Edmonton

Waiver-Wire Pickups (Percentages owned are via Fantrax.com)

1) Travis Zajac (Forward – 47%) – I’m sticking with Zajac again this week. Putting up 3 points in 2 games last week, he remains hot. Especially with 4 games on the schedule for the Devils this week. Zajac is one of the safer bets in the NHL to put up just over half a point per game, and right now he’s on fire.

Matchups this week: Montreal, Washington, Boston, Columbus

2) Frank Vatrano (Forward – 38%) – Vatrano has been playing very well since coming back to the big league club. With 4 points in his last 5 games, Vatrano is doing very well in a limited role for the Bruins. Boston is right in the middle of a playoff race, so they’ll need scoring from all lines. Expect Vatrano to keep chipping like he has been.

Matchups this week: Arizona, NY Rangers, New Jersey

3) Sebastian Aho (Forward – 69%) – While he is owned in the majority of leagues, if he’s available in yours, take a chance on him this week. Carolina is surely not going to make the playoffs, and they’re likely to ride their rookies from here on out. A couple Canes could be on the move at the deadline, and I expect Aho to see increased ice the rest of the way.

Matchups this week: Florida, Tampa Bay, Arizona (twice)

4) Nick Schmaltz (Forward – 45%) – Schmaltz is on fire right now with 2 goals and 5 assists in his last 5 games. He’s riding the benefit of playing with a fired-up Toews, and he’s taking full advantage. Jump on Schmaltz while you can.

Matchups this week: Pittsburgh, NY Islanders, Nashville

5) Mathieu Perreault (Forward – 31%) – Perreault checks in on the list with the lowest owned percentage, and the most points in his last 5 games (2 goals, 4 assists). Perreault has struggled most of the year, but has picked it up lately. He’s seeing much more ice-time in his last 7 games, and it doesn’t look like that will change.

Matchups this week: Minnesota, St. Louis, Colorado

Monday Pick-Ups – Feb 13th/2017

I’ve been playing fantasy hockey for years, and often finish in the top couple spots after the regular season ends. We won’t talk about my playoff performance, which often derails due to injuries/players resting. I tend to have a great draft each year, but where I find I really set myself above others is on the waiver wire. Starting today, each Monday I’ll outline 5 players which I have on my radar for the upcoming week. Here’s week 1:

Teams Playing 4 games:

  • Arizona
  • Buffalo
  • Colorado
  • Columbus
  • New Jersey
  • New York Islanders
  • Ottawa
  • Pittsburgh
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver

Teams Playing only 2 or less (bye week) games:

  • Carolina
  • Chicago
  • Nashville
  • Tampa Bay
  • Washington
  • Boston (1 game)
  • Montreal (1 game)

Waiver-Wire Pickups (Percentages owned are via Fantrax.com)

1) Jason Pominville (Forward – 41%) – Pominville has been on fire in his last 20 games really. If he’s still available, which he is in over half of leagues, he is a MUST have. In 20 games since December 31st, Pominville has 5 goals and 16 assists. He has been known to be streaky throughout his career, and over his past 5 games he has 9 points. The time is now if oyu want to pick him up. Minnesota is in for a tough week, with 3 very strong teams on the schedule, but Pominville is still a rare find on the waiver wire.

Matchups this week: Anaheim, Dallas, Nashville

2) Ryan Strome (Forward – 45%) – Strome has failed to live up to expectations he set for himself after a great rookie campaign. Last year even had a long trip to the AHL for the forward. In his last 10 games, Strome has put up 3 goals, 5 assists. Could he have found his touch? It’s difficult to say, but new coach Doug Weight seems to be trusting Strome more as his ice-time has been increasing.

Matchups this week: Toronto, NY Rangers, New Jersey x2

3) Connor Brown (Forward – 38%) – He rides shotgun on a line with Auston Matthews, and has been a streaky goal scorer all season long. His line has been quiet since coming out of the All-Star break, however expect them to heat up this week as Matthews and Brown look to get back on track with 4 games on the schedule.

Matchups this week: NY Islanders, Columbus, Ottawa, Carolina

4) Radek Faksa (Forward – 34%) – Faksa has taken advantage of an injury to Jason Spezza and used his increased ice-time as best as he could have hoped. Since drawing back into the lineup on January 31st, Faksa has chipped in with 2 goals and 3 assists. He’s averaged 17 minutes a night in that timeframe, and is currently lining up with Tyler Seguin. That right there is enough for a chance on Faksa for a week or two.

Matchups this week: Winnipeg, Dallas, Tampa Bay

5) Brady Skej (Defense – 56%) – The rookie blueliner for the Rangers has been playing well with increased ice-time over the last handful of games. He’s managed to put up 1 goal and 7 assists in his last 10 games, which is amongst the elites in that timeframe. If you’re looking for help on the blue-line, he’s definitely your guy.

Matchups this week: Columbus, NY Islanders, Washington