A shocking trade of Nolan Patrick on the eve of the Entry Draft sent the Rangers into a different mode when it came time to make their picks.
The Rangers came into the draft with an organizational need at goalie, either wing, and defense. However, a shocking trade of Nolan Patrick evened the field wherein they really could take the best player available and feel fine for it.
Here is a quick look at the picks they made and the thoughts behind it.
#11 Overall: RW Alexander Holtz
With Askarov off the board there was not going to be another goalie taken early. In Holtz, the Rangers get a right winger that can score at will with a lethal shot and ability to get open. He also has an underrated playmaking ability and terrific hockey IQ. It's easy to see him and Filip Zadina manning the right side of the ice for the Rangers for years to come. Holtz has already played in the Swedish Elite league for a full season so he should transition to the NHL relatively quickly.
#19 Overall: C Dawson Mercer
The Rangers quickly found the next pivot on their roster in Dawson Mercer. He has very well-rounded offensive tools and thinks the game exceptionally well. Has the ability to play a 200-foot game but really excels offensively either creating for himself, finishing, or creating for others. He is not one dimensional and can do it all.
#28 Overall: C Mavrick Bourque
An elite playmaker, Bourque can find teammates in the offensive zone at will and shows incredible creativity with the puck on his stick. Like Mercer, he thinks the game at a very high level and will continue to improve shift to shift. Had 71 points in 49 games in the QMJHL last year.
#29 Overall: LW/RW Patrik Puistola
In Puistola, the Rangers take a player that has been on the constant rise since his 2019 NHL Draft season. He is a highly skilled, highly energetic player that plays a complete game. His skating, playmaking and finishing have all matured at a rapid pace and the young Finn could be NHL-ready very early.
#46 Overall: D Emil Andrae
Finally the Rangers take a defenseman in Andrae. They are getting an offensive-minded, well-rounded D-man. He is not big, but he has a good first step and clean edgework that should translate well to the NHL, especially as he adds strength in his lower half. Has the ability to run the PP and is by no means a defensive liability. His game has already translated well against men in Sweden.
#54 Overall: C Vasiley Ponomarev
The smooth skating Russian has all of the offensive tools in the toolbox, but it hasn’t translated to high-end production in his first year in North America. However, as he adjusts to smaller ice and a new language, it is expected his production will follow. Has very slick hands and a lethal shot. He will get his chance.
#122 Overall: C Ryan Francis
The Rangers once again went back to the QMJHL for a center (their fourth of the draft) and selected Francis. Francis has extremely gifted hands and sees the ice at a pro level. He needs to add strength and an extra gear as he grows, but the talent is there as evidenced by his 72 points in 61 games in his NHL draft year. Very well could shift to the wing as a pro but will be given a shot at center first.
#135 Overall: D Jack Thompson
Another smooth skating D-man, Thompson is known for doing everything well and has a knack for finding the net as a two-way defenseman. He has a clean stride which should give him an extra gear as he adds strength and explosiveness.
#139 Overall: D Thimo Nickl
The big Austrian skates really well and showed incredible offensive aptitude in his first year in North America playing in the QMJHL with 39 points in 58 games. He is also solid defensively using his size and reach to maximum effect. He could be the steal of the draft for the Rangers.
#182 Overall: G Juho Markkanen
Finally a goalie! Despite the name, Juho is listed as being born in Edmonton, Alberta but has been splitting his time between the top league and the junior league in Finland. His size is listed anywhere from 5’11 to 6’2, but he is well known for having a very composed style with excellent athleticism when called upon.
#203 Overall: Garin Bjorklund
Another goalie! A very Euro name, this goalie was born in Calgary Alberta? Bjorklund stole the net from highly regarded prospect Mads Sodergaard for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and put up exceptional numbers as an 18-year old.
When asked about the draft, GM Sean McAndrews had the following to say.
“We had some clear organizational needs coming into the draft, but the trade of Patrick changed all of that. We decided to take a number of centers very high as we believe this is the toughest position to develop internally. Some of these guys may end up playing the wing which is fine, when you have good organizational depth up the middle and don’t have to force things."
"We would have liked to add a blue chip goalie, but once Askarov got picked, we felt comfortable with the guys we took to add to Dustin Wolf in the system."
"The D we took are good skating guys with good offensive instincts but are by no means defensive liabilities. They might be a few years away, but we like the skills and we like the brains, so we are comfortable with what we added there. Especially considering some of the young guys we have at the NHL level."
"There is no need to rush our guys but we like their ceilings.”