Tue 15 Jun 2010
It seems every season the New York Rangers miss the playoffs I end up writing the same thing during my Rangers Draft Preview – the Blueshirts were bad, but no bad enough. There last gasp at a playoff spot cost them a meaningful shot at moving up in the Draft. The highest the Rangers could have selected was sixth. Instead, they remained in the 10th spot – a position they have drafted at four times since the NHL changed their draft rules in 1969.
From 1963 through 1968, the NHL Draft was opened to any players 17 and older and who were not already sponsored by an NHL club. In 1969, the rules were changed the draft was open to all players over the age of 20 (which was since been lowered to 18).
As with everything else in Rangers history, their draft history with the 10th overall selection is spotty at best. Some of it is their fault and some of the blame rests with the hockey gods.
The Rangers struck gold the first time they selected 10th overall in the First Round. In 1971, Emile Francis drafted Toronto Marlies (OHA) LW Steve Vickers. The man they called “Sarge” played all 10 of his NHL seasons with the Rangers scoring 246 goals and adding 340 assists in 698 games – scoring 30 or more goals in his first four NHL seasons. Vickers won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1973. The highlight of his rookie season was becoming the NHL players ever to record hat tricks in back-to-back games.
Vickers was named the LW on the NHL’s Second All-Star Team thanks to career-highs in goals (41) and points (89). The following season he set set his career-high in assists with 53. His physical style of play and willingness to grind along the boards and take a pounding in front of the net made him the ideal replacement for Dave Balon as the LW on the Bulldog Line with Walt Tkaczuk and Bill Fairbairn.
Given the Rangers inconsistent power play, the Blueshirts could use another Vickers-type player setting screens in front of the net. He scored over a quarter of his goals (69) on the power play.
The Rangers returned to the 10th spot the very next year after drafting Vickers. However, they struck nothing as they drafted RW Al Blanchard. The closest Blanchard got to wearing a Rangers jersey was his Kitchener Rangers (OHL) jersey from his Junior days. Much like Hugh Jessiman, Blanchard never played a game in the NHL. Instead, he spent four years playing in the AHL and IHL (one game).
In selecting Blanchard, the Rangers passed on center George Ferguson (797 NHL games) and defensemen Phil Russell (1016 NHL games) and John Vanboxmeer (588 NHL games).
The Rangers next 10th overall selection was in 1987 when they drafted defenseman Jayson More from New Westminster (WHL). The blueliner made his NHL debut with the Rangers with one game during the 1988-89 season and would return in 196-97 and play 14 more games. His NHL career consisted of 406 games with 18 goals and 54 assists.
The Rangers dealt More to Minnesota for forward Dave Archibald on November 1, 1989. The team reacquired More from San Jose along with center Brian Swanson and future considerations in exchange for Marty McSorley on August 20, 1996. More’s Ranger tenure ended on February 6, 1997 when he was dealt to Phoenix in exchange for center Mike Eastwood and defenseman/forward Dallas Eakins.
While More had an okay NHL career, the Rangers passed on six players who had longer careers – including three other defensemen. The Blueshirts passed on Yves Racine (508 NHL games), Bryan Marchment (926 NHL games) and eventual Ranger blueliner Stephane Quintal (1037). In addition, the Rangers passed center Andrew Cassels (1015 NHL: games) and future Rangers RW Jody Hull (831 NHL games).
The final player on this list is eventual Hall of Famer Joe Sakic (1378 NHL games).
The Rangers last visit to the 10th spot was in 2001 when Glen Sather selected goaltender Dan Blackburn from Kootenay (WHL). Injuries limited Blackburn to just 63 NHL games as he posted a 20-34-4 record with one shutout and .894 save percentage and a goals against average of 3.22. As an 18-year-old, Blackburn was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2002 as he backed up Mike Richter. The next season he stepped in for an injured Richter and played 17 consecutive games at one point. The toll of having to carry the team as a teenager wore down Blackburn. As a result of waiting too long Sather panicked and traded Tomas Kloucek, Rem Murray and Marek Zidlicky for Mike Dunham.
Blackburn’s career was derailed when he suffered a nerve injury to his left shoulder before reporting to training camp in 2003. After sitting out over a year and a half, Blackburn resumed his career in the ECHL with Victoria – despite the fact he had not regained full use of his left arm. To compensate, Blackburn tried to play with two blockers instead of a catching glove on his left hand.
Blackburn returned to the Rangers for the start of training camp in September 2005, but he injured the MCL on his left knee. Faced with the decision of continuing his career or risking the loss of his insurance payout, the young netminder retired on September 25 at the tender age of 22. It was the same decision that Rangers 1997 first round draft pick Stefan Cherneski faced in January 2001.
Prior to the rules change in 1969, the Rangers picked 10th overall twice – both picks coming in the second round during the Original Six Era.
In the very first Draft, the Rangers selected Terry Jones who played with Weston Midgets team. Little is known about Jones – not his height, weight or position according to HockeyDB.com. He played two seasons with the New Haven Blades of the EHL, two seasons with the Nelson Maple Leafs on the WIHL and one year with the Trail Smoke Eaters of the WIHL. Only Jim McKenny (604 NHL games) and Gerry Meehan (670 NHL games) were drafted after Jones and played in the NHL – both players were drafted by Toronto.
In 1965, 10 players were taken over two rounds. The Toronto Maple Leafs did not make a selection as they passed due to a lack of available talent. Interestingly enough, an 11th pick was made, but it was done by the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL.
The Maple Leafs might have had a point as the only draft picks to see action in the NHL were defenseman Pierre Bouchard (595 NHL games – Montreal drafted him with the fifth and last pick of the first round) and LW Michel Parizeau (taken with 10th and final pick of the draft) by the Rangers.
For what it is worth, for the first and only time in franchise history, the Rangers had the first overall pick and selected C Andre Veilleux from the Montreal Jr. B team. Veilleux never played a game in the pros and HockeyDB only lists him playing with the Trois Rivieres Reds of the QJAHL. He scored three goals and added 10 assists.
Parizeau spent three seasons with the Rangers Omaha Knights CHL affiliate before spending two season in the NHL with St. Louis and Philadelphia (58-3-14-17). Parizeau made a name for himself in the WHA playing seven seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, Indianapolis Racers and Cincinnati Stingers. In 509 WHA games, he scored 142 goals and 252 assists. In his final season 1978-79, Parizeau started the season with the Racers as a teammate of Wayne Gretzky and finished the season in with the Stingers as a teammate of Mark Messier.
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