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