Once again a frustrating run to and through the playoffs has the left the New York Rangers with a mid-first round selection (19th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal on June 26, 2009. While the Rangers traded their second round draft pick (50th overall) as part of the Nik Antropov deal, they do have a second round draft pick (47th overall) as compensation for the tragic loss of Alexei Cherepanov.

Glen Sather, Gordie Clark and the rest of the front office and scouts must concentrate their efforts, at least in the first couple of rounds, on trying to add speed and scoring punch – two qualities that are lacking in the organization. If all things fall just right for the Rangers, there might good value among forwards with offensive ability and speed in the first two rounds.

Before we look ahead at potential Rangers’ targets in the first round, let’s take a look at the team’s history with the 19th overall selection.

The Rangers have made the 19th overall selection three times in their history.

In 1968, the Blueshirts drafted defenseman Bruce Buchanan with the 19th overall pick – which was the final selection of the second round that year. Buchanan never played a game in the NHL and his post-Junior career highlight was being a part of the 1968-69 Clinton Comets who won the EHL’s regular season title. The 5-9/160 blueliner was the Rangers lone pick among 24 selections.

Back in 1968, the only players eligible for the Draft were those 17 and older who were not being sponsored by an NHL team. The next year, the NHL changed the eligibility requirements and opened the Draft up to any amateur player under the age of 20.

The Rangers next exercised the 19th overall selection in 1997 when they drafted RW Stefan Cherneski in the first round. Cherneski was one of three players from that draft to never play in the NHL. However, unlike Hugh Jessiman, Cherneski can’t be classified a bust because his professional career was derailed on November 13, 1998 when he suffered a fractured right patella while playing for the Hartford Wolf Pack. While he made a couple of attempts at a comeback, he finally retired in 2001. For comparison’s sake, the Dallas Stars drafted Brendan Morrow 25th overall.

In 2004, the Rangers drafted Lauri Korpikoski with their second selection of the first round (Al Montoya was drafted 6th overall). The next two picks were Travis Zajac (New Jersey) and Wojtek Wolski (Colorado). Washington drafted high scoring defenseman Mike Green 29th overall.

As we look to the first round of the 2009 Draft, the Rangers need to select a player who has to bring scoring, size, speed, or a combination of the three. The Blueshirts should also be looking at wingers rather than centers given the depth they have with Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan and Evgeny Grachev (who will eventually be moved to wing). As a result, I have targeted four players who bring the three “S” needs. Each player’s statistics include Games Played-Goals-Assists-Points-PIM.

CARTER ASHTON – LW – (6-3/205)
CS: # 12NA —– THN: # 20 —– McK: # 22
ISS: # 33 (Bill Guerin) —– RLR: # 22 (Dustin Penner)
TSN: # 20 (Bill Guerin)
2008/2009 – Lethbridge (WHL) – 70-30-20-50-93
ISS: “A great skater who can drive the net. Has a good scoring touch and a good shot. A prototypical power forward who has a nose for the net and does not shy away from the dirty work. He is a very strong skater that will go to the net hard. Is not scared to drop the gloves.” They also pointed out that he had a poor playoff run scoring a goal and 2 assists with a Minus-8 rating as he did struggle defensively.
McK: “Ashton is already a dominant force physically in front of the net in the WHL and possesses soft hands with a sniper’s touch in close. He scored a lot of his goals from cross-crease tap-ins or by bulling his way to the net looking for rebounds.”
RLR: “Tantalizing combination of a huge frame, good skating stride, and goal scoring hands. Is very tough to handle along the boards and in front. Wide balanced stride with good foot speed and agility, but lacks some first step and acceleration. At best when paired with a creative, playmaking centre. Doesn’t go looking for trouble, but when he drops the mitts [he] is a devastating fighter who throws with both hands.”

LANDON FERRARO – RW – (5-11/165)
CS: # 18NA—– THN: # 28—– McK: # 32
ISS: # 17 (Patrick Sharp) —– RLR: # 38 (Devin Setoguchi)
TSN: # 26 (Patrick Sharp)
ISS: “A pure goal scorer who can find the net. Has a great shot and release. Will also score garbage goals. A leader on a young team [named Red Deer’s MVP]; he displayed his positive influence on a nightly basis. He did battle with consistency, but effort was always there. Has quickness and is a tremendous skater, and strong defensively, as well as being an offensive threat. Played for Canada’s U-18 team.”
McK: “Ferraro is blessed with imagination and sports tremendously skilled hands. He is blessed with the patience and confidence of a goal scorer. Although he will need to add some weight, he showed signs of maturity physically as he doesn’t shy away from making or taking contact to make the play.
RLR: “Has the ability to score in a variety of ways – off the rush with a solo effort, near the circles with a one-timer, or jumping on rebounds in the crease. Excellent hockey sense allows him to be in the right place for goals. Did not play with as much grit and physical intensity this season.
2008/2009 Red Deer (WHL) – 68-37-18-55-90.

CHRIS KREIDER – LW/C – (6-2/201)
CS: # 14NA—– THN: # 24—– McK: # 31
ISS: # 24 (Eric Staal) —– RLR: # 27 (Jeff Carter)
TSN: # 19 (Alexander Mogilny)
ISS: “An excellent skater with explosive speed and acceleration. Despite playing in the New England Prep league, Kreider has still emerged as a bona fide first round pick. Great mix of size, strength and skill. Has very good offensive skills and can be dangerous one-on-one. He can be hard to play against down low when he plays physical. He’s not a big hitter, but he doesn’t shy away from contact. Tremendous upside and he should be a top player at higher levels.”
McK: His vision of the ice makes him a valuable playmaker as his passes are crisp and accurate. His shot is quick and accurate as he also possesses strong finishing abilities. Kreider’s top-end speed and acceleration are impressive, but underlined by his ability to handle the puck at top gear. He doesn’t finish with consistency and his defensive play needs work, but Kreider is a promising draft prospect with great speed and pure talent.
RLR: “Terrific natural athlete has all the tools to be special with fine size and strength, and fabulous skating ability. One of the top three pre skaters in the draft at any position. Very raw talent. Makes legitimate defensive effort, but understanding of game situations needs work.
2008/2009 – Andover High School (MA) – 26-33-23-56-10.

JEREMY MORIN – LW/C
CS: # 33NA—– THN: # 21—– McK: # 37
ISS: # 27 (Zach Parise) —– RLR: # 15 (Dany Heatley)
TSN #: 31 (Ray Sheppard)
ISS: “A highly skilled goal scorer [who] has good offensive tools; great touch-very quick and soft hands. A dynamic goal scorer, few players have the one timing ability of Morin. [His] shot is deadly accurate and very hard. Morin is one of the best pure goal scorers available in the draft and could go early in the first round.
McK: “Morin is one of the most perplexing players in this year’s draft. A gifted and natural scorer with some of the softest hands in the draft, Morin sometimes will fall prey to a lack of passion while rumoured character flaws have also run rampant in the scouting community. Morin has average speed and an awkward skating stride, but is, surprisingly, quicker with the puck on his blade than without. Morin’s offensive abilities are among the best in this year’s draft class.
RLR: “If not for Tavares, he’d be the most coveted pure sniper in this draft. Deadly from the circles in with a lightning quick release on an accurate shot. Comes up with timely, important goals and wants the puck with the game on the line. Outstanding puck skills and terrific hands – both gives and receives passes very well. Will never be confused with a shutdown winger, but is a passable defensive player.
2008/2009 – USA U-18 (NTDP) – 46-26-22-48-99

Each of these players would bring much-needed offense on the wings for the goal scoring starved Rangers. The final decision comes down to individual preferences. If the 19th pick were mine to make, Carter Aston would be my first choice. Carter the son of former NHLer Brent Ashton, brings a combination of size, speed and scoring with the added bonus of Ashton being someone who can fight and fight well.

Putting the remaining players in order is difficult. Both Kreider (Boston College) and Morin (Kingston – OHL) are stepping up in competition so next season will go a long way to cementing their place in the NHL. Ferraro might be the closest to stepping into the Rangers lineup, but does lack the size you would want. Then again, the last time the Rangers passed on the son of a former Islander, they drafted Hugh Jessiman instead of Zach Parise.

I would place the remaining players in this order: Kreider, Morin and then Ferraro.

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