The New York Rangers are scheduled to make the 40th overall pick in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 26. However, it is very possible that the Blueshirts will be trading out of their spot in the second round. President/GM Glen Sather should be looking to get the Rangers back into the third round or, at the very least, add an additional fourth round pick. You might even see Slats look to recoup the sixth round pick he sent to the New York Islanders in the Jyri Niemi trade.

Of course, everything boils down to how the Draft shapes up. The later you get in the Draft; there are more variables to factor into making a selection. In some cases, it might be better to move down to a position where a player is a better value pick – especially if you can add additional draft picks.

Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark addressed the depth of the draft in a conference call with reporters on June 16. “I think the best way to characterize it is it may not be deep in real top-end players, but it’s very deep in players that will end up playing in the NHL and maybe top-three lines,” he explained. “Usually, the impact guys we talk of are the first- and second-line guys or real top-4 D. There are a lot of guys that are going to play in the top three lines or the top six D.”

If the Draft goes as I have predicted in my First and Second Round Mock Drafts, the Rangers are faced with a problem of looking a lot of “nice players”, but not too many that would fit into Clark’s idea of an “impact player”.

As a result, I have come up with a list of six players who I think might be able to develop into impact players – and at the very least – make a solid contribution game-in and game-out. There are three “finesse-type” forwards, an agitating forward who can score and a physical defensive blueliner – something the Rangers organization lacks.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), TSN.ca (TSN), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters, European skaters, North American goaltenders and European goaltenders. TSN ranked the Top 75 players and listed fine Honorable Mentions. In an exclusive to NHL.com, CS provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player for their Top 30 North American skaters – and is listed here when applicable. ISS also provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

Brock Beukeboom – D –
THN: # 49 —– McK: # 81 —–TSN: # 54
CS: # 41NA —– ISS: # 79 (Not Available)
The Rangers have spent years trying to replace the physical presence Jeff Beukeboom brought to the team. Brock offers the Rangers a chance to get a chip off the old block. Believe it or not, the 6-1/200 blueliner began his hockey career as a forward before his father urged him to take on the family position. As a result, Brock – who scored seven goals and 19 assists in 66 games with Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) – is a much better skater than his father was.

THN: “He has good size, plays hard, [and] keeps it simple. He knows who he is and he plays that well,” one scout said to THN. Another scout offered, “I saw some highs and lows. He’s got decent offensive upside and there were times when he showed more than I thought he had. There are a lot of positives and he showed good improvement.”
ISS: “[Brock is] a two way d-man who can be very intimidating to play against…. Brock has very good anticipation skills and will step up to throw big hits quite often.”

McKeen’s: “Brock is a throwback player who has the innate ability to change the complexion of the game with a timely placed hit. He showed much more composure in the defensive zone this year staying inside the box and letting plays come to him. [He] is an accomplished skater with a nice stride…. He can absorb hits just as equally as he can deliver them. He is a great complementary partner for a more offensive-minded defenseman.”

Stanislav Galiev – RW –
THN: # 37 —– McK: # 47—– TSN: # 40
CS: # 20NA (Alexander Frolov) —– ISS: # 24 (Pavol Demitra)
Unlike most Russian-born players, there is less of a concern with Galiev choosing the KHL over the NHL because he spent the 2008-2009 season playing in the USHL with Indiana (69-29-35-64) and spent last season in the QMJHL with Saint John (67-15-45-60).

THN: One scout said, “He scored all right, but you wish he would have scored a little more. But next year he could wake up and just tear the Quebec League apart.” Another scout offered a more muted assessment. “You watch him play and you say, ‘Wow, is he ever talented,’” the scout stated. “But he only had 15 goals and that’s not a lot in the Quebec League for a guy who is supposed to be that talented and playing on the top line. It kind of makes you wonder.”

McKeen’s: “Galiev is a smart player whose distribution skills often surprised the opposition. He disguises his intentions well. His skating is a little choppy, but it doesn’t seem to hold him back, especially once he picks up speed. Galiev isn’t afraid of taking a hit to make a play and will play the body if the situation calls for it.”

Krill Kabanov – LW –THN: # 38 —– McK: # 31 —– TSN: # 43
CS: # 31NA —– ISS: # 45 (Alexander Radio)
There is no questioning that Kabanov has All-Star NHL-type talent. However, there is also no questioning that Kabanov has issues – so much so that he went from being a sure-fire first round pick to someone who might drop well into the second round.

Here is how Kabanov’s 2009-2010 season went: After battling a contract squabble between the KHL and Moncton (QMJHL), a wrist injury then limited him to 22 games (10 goals and 13 assists) with Moncton, then a stretch of healthy scratches led to Moncton releasing him to play for Russia in the Under-18 Tournament, Kabanov finished up the year not playing for Russia because he was kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons. He missed the WJC because of the wrist injury.

THN: “He could be the best player in the draft if you ever figure out what’s going on,” a scout opined. “Somebody might get a bargain. If he goes to a team with a lot of good Russians, he might be fine.”

ISS: “At one time, Kabanov was regarded as one of the most elite players available for this year’s draft…. But falling in line has proven to be something very difficult for Kabanov…. ISS views Kabanov on the ice, much like he is off the ice, explosive but inconsistent. If he can keep his emotions in check he can dominate.”

McKeen’s: “When he is on the ice, Kabanov brings an intriguing mix of speed, puck-handling ability, vision and physical strength. He is a very explosive skater that manages to reach his top speed effortlessly. Kabanov is as good a passer as he is a shooter, and does both without warning. He showed a mean streak at times which gave him ample room to create.”

Brad Ross – LW –THN: # 42—– McK: # 45 —– TSN: # 35
CS: # 59NA —– ISS: # 35 (Dustin Brown)
You have to love a player who is referred to as a “dirt bag” (as one scout did in a positive tone). In speaking with THN scouts compared the rambunctious 6-0/175 LW’s style of play to that of Daniel Carcillo, Matt Cooke, Steve Ott and Darcy Tucker. He was the only player in Canadian Juniors to tally 25+ goals and 200+ PIM (71 games, 27 goals, 41 assists and 203 PIM. Ross played on the same line as sure-fire first round draft picks Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter. Older brother Nick Ross was drafted by Phoenix in the 2007 first round draft (30th overall).

McKeen’s: “He was the agitator of the line and his hardnosed approach to the game often opened up room for him to execute a pass to either of his talented line-mates. He did an admirable job in improving his overall puck and stick skills and showed he could contribute with two high-profile players on his line…. Ross is a healthy skater and does bring a dynamic to the table, but needs to be more selective in terms of his decision-making on the ice.”

THN: “He’s one of my favorite players in the draft,” a scout told THN. “He’s a WHL version of Steve Downie without some of the initial immaturity. He has NHL skills, but he can also fight and he’s impossible to play against.”

Petr Straka – C/RW –THN: # 52—– McK: # 38 —– TSN: 38
CS: # 23NA —– ISS: # 36 (Petr Sykora)
Straka took a positive step to acclimating himself to North American hockey by joining Rimouski (QMJHL) where he was named Rookie of the Year for leading all Quebec League rookies in scoring (28 goals and 36 assists in 62 games). The 6-1/185 forward stepped his play up in 12 playoff games (5-9-14).

THN: One scout said, “He’s a tall, lanky kid who competes hard. He’s a bit week, but he competes hard. He has good hockey sense and is dangerous with the puck. Another scout offered measured caution in respect to Straka. “I worry a little about smallish Europeans who put up big numbers in the Quebec League because sometimes they don’t translate to the next level,” the scout warned THN. “But he’s skilled offensively and he’s shown in the Quebec League he can put up points.”

McKeen’s: “Straka shows ability in the offensive zone as he prefers to shoot more than he likes to pass. His game is dependent on using his speed and hockey sense to slither past defenders, beating them backdoor…. Straka needs to embrace the physical game as he can be intimidated early in contests as was evidenced in the Top Prospects Game as he was bullied out of the slot and made no effort to return.”

It will not surprise me in the least to see the Rangers move down in the second round with the thought of recouping the third round draft pick they dealt to Los Angeles in the Brian Boyle deal.

Moving down in the round fits in well with my preference for the Rangers to take a long look at Brock Beukeboom with their second round pick. I know the Rangers blue line corps is deep, but they do need to add a physical defensive defenseman. The 40th overall spot is a bit early to be drafting Beukeboom, so moving down and adding a draft pick would be the best way to go. However, that will require the Rangers to gauge how the Draft is progressing.

If the Rangers do remain at #40, then I would bite the bullet anyway and draft Beukeboom with their second round pick, although my second choice might be the better value.

As for the remaining players, I would roll the dice on Kirill Kabanov; the player McKeen’s calls “the ultimate high-risk, high-reward prospect”. His talent is just too much to pass on at this point in the Draft. With Artem Anisimov and Evgeny Grachev poised to make an impact with the Rangers, Kabanov would have fellow Russians on the team to help ease his transition to the NHL and provide some stability.

The Rangers could add in their attempt to bring out the best in Kabanov if they follow through with my advice and draft Vladimir Tarasenko in the first round. Both Kabanov and Tarasenko were linemates with the Russian U-18 Team in 2009.

Will the Rangers pull the trigger on two Russian players – one of whom has had issues? Rangers Assistant Director Player of Personnel Jeff Gorton addressed this idea during the June 16 conference call.

“There’s a lot of talent there, and like all kids here in the draft, we have to do our due diligence about their character,” Gorton offered. “I know with Russians we always hear about their character issues, but it’s the same for other kids, too, in this draft. For sure, Kabanov has some issues. You better do your homework before pulling the trigger on drafting a guy like that.”

Of the remaining players, my preference would be Petr Straka, Brad Ross and Stanislav Galiev. Straka is still an inconsistent performer, but the recently turned 18-year-old has time to develop his game and get stronger to deal with the rigors of the NHL. Straka might be the safer pick that Kabanov because he is a more stable commodity.

Ross appears to be a younger version of Sean Avery and that might not play high in Coach John Tortorella’s book, but the Rangers cannot let them dissuade them from considering Ross. He would provide a physical component that will compliment the Rangers more finesse forwards.

Galiev might be ready to contribute faster than most European-born prospects because he will have three seasons in North America under his belt by the end of the 2010-2011 season. He has all the attributes to become a top six forward.

If Sather is able to acquire a third round pick, there is a player I would like to the team consider – Tom Kuehnhackl. I almost added him to my choices with the second round pick, but decided he might be a better value pick in the third round. Here is my original report that I had prepared on him.

Tom Kuehnhackl – RW –THN: # 59 —– McK: # 65 —– TSN: # 72
CS: # 8E—– ISS: # 41 (James Neal)
The 6-2/170 RW is the son of another famous hockey player. Father Erich is a member of the IIHF Hall of Fame and has a somewhat circuitous history with the Rangers. It is generally accepted that the Rangers (and Canadiens) offered an Erich an NHL contract during the 1970s, the he passed because he was making more playing in Germany. However, Tom will not follow his father as the younger Kuehnhackl will play this coming season in the OHL with Windsor.

Kuehnhackl’s season was limited to 38 games in the German second division (12 goals and 9 assists) due to an array of injuries (shoulder, thumb, hand and groin ailments).

THN: Some nights he doesn’t play very much and other nights he plays against bad teams so it’s hard to get a good read on him,” one scout commented. He’s got all the tools and he’s an intriguing player.”

McKeen’s: “He is a natural scorer with highly-tuned offensive instincts. His game is based around his ability to manufacture offence, but he also understands defensive concepts.”

ISS: Kuehnhackl is a tall and lanky and will only get better as he develops his strength and builds muscle. [He is a] Top 6 forward who could develop into a top scorer”

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