With the Rangers currently holding the #7, #18, and #27 picks in the first round of tomorrow’s Entry Draft, there are a lot of directions they could go.
Let’s have another look at what is already in their system at key positions for all players under 23.
Center: Nico Hischer, Dawson Mercer, Connor Zary, Philip Tomisino, Dylan Holloway, and Mavrick Bourque.
Wing: Filip Zadina, Alexander Holtz, Kristian Vesalainen, Vitaly Kravstov, and Patrik Puistola
Defense: Adam Boqvist, Noah Dobson, Victor Soderstrom, Philip Broberg, Tobias Bjornfot, and Ty Smith
Goalie: Dustin Wolf and Connor Ingram is relatively young at 24
So what does this mean for the draft?
The Rangers are very deep at Centre and Defense. This is not a surprise as these are arguably the two most important positions to build organizational depth. This leaves the both the Wing and Goaltender as areas of need.
But does this mean that the Rangers will select wingers and goaltenders early? Not necessarily.
Many young centres end up shifting to the wing if their skating and defensive acumen can’t meet the rigors of the position. Tomisino and Bourque in particular might be better suited to the wing long-term if their defensive games don’t develop.
Meanwhile, goalies are notoriously fickle. Take Dustin Wolf for example. A 7th round selection in the NHL that has won back-to-back Goaltender of the Year awards in the entire CHL. Meanwhile the long list of first round busts at the position is a very long one.
If things unfolded as they did in the NHL (not saying they will but IF they did), the Rangers would select Brandt Clarke. A highly skilled offensive dman with plus skating. He is very similar to Adam Boqvist and Ty Smith already in the pipeline.
If we look at the players chosen either side of Brandt, William Eklund went 7th and Dylan Guenther went 9th. Both are wingers so could be real options for the Rangers. Eklund is one of the most pro ready prospects winning rookie of the year in the SHL playing against men.
Meanwhile, Guenther is a complete package forward that torched the WHL and has a lethal offensive arsenal. Eklund plays LW and Guenther RW. There is perhaps a slightly bigger need for the left side in the organization but right wings are generally considered more difficult to find in the NHL so that is unlikely to tip the scales for the Rangers.
Of note the first goalie selected was Sebastian Cossa who is a massive goalie with excellent technique and good athleticism. The other first round goalie was Jasper Wallstedt who has a mature, pro-ready game.
There really are a lot of ways to go for the Rangers. When it comes to the draft, the Blue Shirts really are lucky to have a system that is already stacked. This will allow them to take the player they like the best OR try and fill an organizational need.
With the 3 picks in the first round they could really do both and feel very comfortable.