The New York Rangers own the 20th selection in the first round of the NHL Draft. 2008 marks the second time in their history that they will make the 20th selection in the first round. In 1989 the Rangers drafted Steven Rice. The Kitchener RW played just 11 of his 329 NHL games with the Rangers. He best remembered as being a part of the package that Neil smith sent to Edmonton in exchange for Neil Smith.

What most people don’t remember is that you will not find the name of the man who drafted Rice among the list of New York Ranger GMs. The 1989 Draft fell in between the tenures of the fired Phil Esposito (fired 5/24/89) and his replacement Neil Smith (hired 7/17/89). The draft was run by Esposito’s right-hand man Joe Bucchino.

While Rice was the lone player the team drafted 20th overall in the first round, the Rangers have made two other selections that were the 20th pick in an NHL Draft.

In 1966, the Rangers drafted Jack Egers 20th overall – in the fourth round. The LW played 284 NHL games, 111 of them with the Rangers covering two stints.

In 1963, the first of the NHL Draft, the Rangers selected defenseman Cam Allison with the 20th pick – also in the fourth round. If you have never heard of Allison don’t feel too bad because his entire professional career consisted of 3 IHL games with the Saginaw Gears during the 1972-73 season.

As you can see, Rangers Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark really has nowhere to go but up when you look at Ranger history with the 20th overall section.

As I mentioned in my previous Rangers draft column, Kyle Woodleif believes it makes “no sense trying to draft for need based on a strictly positional breakdown” because of the time it takes for a player to develop.

Whether or not you agree with Woodleif, there is one thing that everyone can agree on – the Rangers need a physical defensive defenseman. The team has never addressed this shortfall since Jeff Beukeboom retired. That is why Ranger fans should hope Colton Teubert (6-3/185) finds his way to Broadway.

In their annual Draft Preview, The Hockey News (THN) describes him as “a classic defensive defenseman who excels in the shutdown aspect of the game and plays with a pretty wide mean streak.” While THN quoted one scout who questioned his “pretty average hockey sense”, E.J. McGuire, Director of Central Scouting (CS), offered a different opinion, “I like Colten for a lot of reasons, but most of all for his ability to take charge of the game.”

International Scouting Service (ISS) writes, “Teubert has the uncanny ability to play the shut down game and he has a mean streak. Played in all situations and logged lots of minutes against the oppositions top forward units.”

Bob McKenzie and TSN offered even higher praise on Teubert’s physical game.
“The hard-rock defenceman, who draws comparisons to Shea Weber and Adam Foote, is as competitive and feisty a player as there is in the draft. What he lacks in offensive upside, he makes up for with his ferocity and defensive prowess.”

The best reason to consider Teubert comes from the blue liner himself.

“I consider myself a punishing defenseman. I’m the guy that you put out against your top players and tell me to shut them down. I think I have a great shot from the point and get it through.”

Another blueliner along the lies of Teubert is defenseman John Carlson (6-2/215), who played in the USHL last year. Carlson passed on attending the University of Massachusetts (Thomas Pock’s alma mater) in order to join the OHL’s London Knights.

“This guy might be popular on draft day,” a scout told THN. He’s a tough one to call because of the perception of the USHL and high school isn’t that good.”

Central Scouting’s Jack Barzee was more enthusiastic in his scouting assessment.

“John Carlson is a big burly defensemen, he is a real good skater and a strong skater. He runs the power-play from the top of the umbrella and he has a very heavy shot. He’s a very self-assured kid and rightfully so — he’s a boy, yet in a man’s body and very physically strong . . . I knew when I first saw him that he was a first-round pick. He was a guy I had seen before as an under-ager. He had all the tools – size, skill, physical presence and charisma.”

ISS writes, “Carlson is a big defenseman, who skates well and possess a heavy shot from the point …. With good physic cal strength, John utilizes his size well during battles for loose pucks and position in all three zones.”

There are two centers that should draw interest from the Rangers.

Greg Nemisz (6-3/197) is projected to be a power forward at the NHL level. He showed solid progress between his first and second year in the OHL – going from 11 goals and 34 points to 34 goals and 67 points.

ISS writes, “With his huge frame, Nemisz is a prototypical power forward who works hard and is very effective when battling for positioning front of the opposition net and on the offensive cycle, but was also reliable in defensive situations.”

Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards offered this scouting report.

“Greg is a big player that goes to the net, he’s not overly physical but he doesn’t get knocked around either. He is good on the power-play, in the sense that he sets himself at the front of the net, he’s hard to move and he bangs in a lot of rebounds from there. He has a good shot, especially his one-timers. At his best, he is a power-forward type of a guy, a team guy, a two-way guy who plays on the top two lines in Windsor as well as the power-play and penalty kill.”

Jordan Eberle (5-10/174) would be a cinch to be drafted before the Rangers pick if he were just a bit bigger. He is big-time scorer who netted 42 goals last season – nearly 20% of the goals his Regina squad scored.

“Jordan is a slippery scorer with great hands. He has NHL hands and the skating to get him into good shooting position. Jordan is an up-and-down the wing ‘tease’ in the sense that sometimes he’ll look like he’s just going up and down the wing and you have him slotted as a checker and then he’ll cut in off the wing and use that shot to put his team up by a goal,” McGuire reported.

ISS calls him “a highly skilled goal scorer – has all of the offensive tools; great touch – very good hockey sense – quick release and soft hands …. Despite not having a large frame, he does a nice job battling along the boards and using his body to protect the puck.”

There a pair of European wingers who should draw the Rangers – one who might be available at #20 and one who might not be available.

Mattias Tedenby (5-10/176) would certainly be a top five or 10 draft pick if he were just a little bigger. However, he will prove to be the steal of 2008 if he is drafted in the middle of the first round.

ISS calls him “one of the best possession players available in the draft – can weave, cut, change pace. Blow past, deke or go right through defenders while handling the puck …. Makes plays out of nothing and can run the power play with the best of them.”

CS Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb reported, “Mattias is excellent on every shift. He has outstanding speed, stick work and work ethic. He is small but fearless – he takes hits and always comes back. He looks like a young Saku Koivu, he creates scoring chances with his outstanding skating and is very difficult to stop when he is at full speed. He has excellent balance and quick, smooth hands, but needs to improve on his defensive awareness.”

The other forward is LW Kirill Petrov, and given the lack of a transfer agreement, should be available when the Rangers draft.

ISS writes, “Petrov is a power forward that can set the tone of the game with a big hit or big goal. His aggressive style and forecheck are difficult for any players to defend against. He knows how to create space down low and consistently punishes players.”

Stubb offered the following report on Petrov.

“I’m impressed with Kirill’s excellent skating and mobility as well as his work ethic playing on Russia’s (Under-18) top line. He displays toughness in one-on-one situations and delivers smart passes creating a lot of scoring chances. He is also very physically strong; he was successful in one-on-one situations along the boards and in the corners.”

One wild card is LW Joe Colborne (6-5/190) who will be making the jump from Junior A to the University of Denver. Some scouts are concerned about his playing at a lower level and other scouts, according to THN, worry about his drive because of his family’s well-off financial position. Colborne showed good progress, going from 20 goals and 48 points in his first year in Junior A to 33 goals and 90 points last season

ISS writes, “He is a very strong skater with excellent hockey sense and puck skills. Has excellent strength and reach and is very hard to get the puck from.”

THN writes, “He has good vision and is a strong skater who will be difficult to knock off the puck when he fills out.”

While Colborne is an intriguing package, it would be difficult for the Rangers to take on another risky project with Hugh Jessiman struggling to justify his first round selection. Besides, it is very possible Colborne will be gone by the time the Rangers draft.

In a perfect world, Teubert would available to the Rangers when they draft at #20. However, it is unlikely that he will be available. Carlson would make a good secondary choice, but I would be more inclined to go after Tedenby if he were available.

Using my mock draft as a guide, the Rangers choices would come down to Petrov and Eberle. In a very close decision, I would go with Petrov and his size over Eberle because there is more of need now (and a couple of years down the road) for a winger with size and ability.

The Rangers will be making six selections during the seven round draft. In addition to the 20th overall pick, the Rangers will pick 51st (second round), 75th (third round), 114th (fifth round), 171st (sixth round), and 201st (seventh round).

The Rangers third round selection is from Carolina as part of the matt Cullen trade. The rangers own third round pick (#81) goes to Los Angeles as part of the Sean Avery deal. That pick was a conditional pick if the Kings did not sign Jan Marek – which they didn’t.

New York’s fourth round pick was sent to St. Louis in the Christian Backman trade.

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