It is hard enough trying to preview first round selections when you have a draft as volatile as the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Trying to preview the subsequent rounds is even harder. With that said, I am going to plow through and present four players that the Rangers should keep an eye on in the second round.As I mentioned in my first round previews, if Logan MacMillan or Michael Repik were available in the second round I would not hesitate to draft either of them in the second round. I have often espoused the draft philosophy of going the opposite way in the second round. For example, if I pick a forward in the first round then I am more inclined to look for a defenseman in the second round and vice versa.

Colby Cohen is a 6-foot-2 and 200 pound defenseman played for Lincoln in the USHL. In 53 games, he scored 13 goals and added 47 assists with 110 PIM. The native of Pennsylvania was with the USA National Team Development Program before heading to the USHL. Cohen will be joining first round prospect Kevin Shattenkirk at Boston University in the fall.

Cohen is rated as the 54th best prospect by THN, the 25th best North American skater by CSS and the 43rd best player by ISS who compares him to Bryan McCabe.

As he stands poised to begin his freshman year of collegiate hockey, Cohen is an offensive defenseman who projects out as a leader on the power play and as a player who will generate offense. ISS writes, “He’s got a very good shot, especially the one-timer. His greatest assets are his vision of the ice, passing ability, and his reads. He has a great first pass out of the zone and can “thread the needle” when the opportunity presents itself. His skating has continually improved over the last few years and will be even stronger when he physically matures.”

ISS does cautions against “whispers in the past of attitude problems” and the need for Cohen to work on defensive play in order for him to become an all-around solid blueliner. It will not be a surprise to hear Cohen’s name called in the first round.

Another defenseman who might have his name called in the first round is Nick Ross. The 6-foot-1 and 190 pound Ross played with Regina in the WHL. In 70 games, he scored 7 goals and 24 assists with 87 PIM.

THN rates him as the 58th best player, CSS lists him as the 18th best North American skater and ISS rates him as the 42nd best player and compares him to Sheldon Souray.

“Nick Ross is a two-way, mobile defenseman. He can move the puck, make a play, and give you some time on the power play. He competes hard, and has some bite in his game,” Philadelphia Director of Hockey Operations Chris Pryor said on the Flyers official web site.

ISS offered concerns about Ross’ fitness level and conditioning which were brought out during the CHL’s skills testing. However, those physical concerns aside (after all, he is only 18 and NBA wags are saying the same thing about Kevin Durrant), ISS is very pleased with his overall game.

“Ross loves to step up and lay a hit on the opposing forward,” ISS writes. “His defensive awareness needs work, but his coachability has never been questioned. [He is a] puck moving rearguard that can be used on the PP for his great shot from the point.”

The next two players are the ones that I am most excited about.

First up is LW Max Gratchev. Born in Russia, Gratchev spent his youth hockey playing in the United States before he was drafted by Quebec (QMJHL) and Patrick Roy. The 5-foot-11 and 196 pound Gratchev developed after being traded from Quebec to Rimouski during the 2005-2006 season. He flourished this season scoring 35 goals and 42 assists with 88 PIM in 70 games for Rimouski.

THN rates him as the 39th best prospect, CSS the 46th best North American skater and ISS rates him their 39th best player and compares him to Buffalo’s Ales Kotalik.

“He’s a fireball,” one scout told THN. “He’s not a great skater, but he’s quick from the faceoff circle to the net.”

Another note pointed out by THN is that he is more mature than the average North American prospect. He missed being eligible for last year’s draft by 11 days. With three years of Junior hockey under his belt, he should be ready for professional hockey sooner than the average second round draft pick.

ISS calls him a “highly skilled winger, with extremely good offensive instincts. He seems to be a step ahead with his vision/decision making which gives him a good passing game. [He] has a tremendous nose for the net [and] an accurate shot to along with a very quick release – attributes that are needed to score at the next level.”

ISS does caution that he does need to get stronger and work on his defensive positioning.

The other player that intrigues me is goaltender Joel Gistedt. While goaltending, at first, does not appear to be a concern with Henrik Lundqvist and Al Montoya in the organization, the Rangers still have to be thinking about the future. Whether Ranger fans like it or not, the Blueshirts will have to trade one of them or face the return of the Van Richterbrouck situation. The mishandling of that situation meant the Rangers only received Doug Lidster in exchange for John Vanbiesbrouck.

While the organization did finally sign Miika Wiikman, the Rangers still could use another potential starter in the organizational – albeit a few years down the road, especially when (not if) they trade Montoya.

Gistedt is a 5-foot-11 and 174 pound netminder who played for Frolunda in Sweden last year. The Rangers have had pretty good success with Frolunda goaltenders, namely Lundqvist. In 35 games with Frolunda, Gistedt posted a 17-13-4 record with a 2.58 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. Gistedt eventually replaced NHL veteran Tommy Salo in goal for Frolunda. He also backstopped Sweden in the World Junior Championship going 1-4 with a 1.96 GAA and a .912 SV%. THN rates Gistedt as the 44th best prospect, CSS as the best European goaltender and ISS rates him 72nd overall. Believe it or not, all 30 teams passed on Gistedt last season.

“He’s come out of nowhere,” a scout explained to THN. “He’s a guy teams wish they would have drafted last year.” Remember that quote when Glen Sather either trades or doesn’t sign on of his 2006 draft picks.

Here is Gistedt’s CSS Scouting Report: “A well-positioned butterfly goaltender … has good pad quickness and a very quick glove … moves well and is strong in his crease … works hard and has good anticipation.”

The final word on Gistedt belongs to Flyers pro scout Ilkka Sinisalo.

“Joel Gistedt is not very big, but he’s very quick. He really has all of the tools necessary to be a good professional goaltender.”

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