With the New York Rangers being the lowest seeded team entering the 2011 NHL playoffs, and following their first round elimination, they became the highest slotted team in the 2011 NHL Draft as the Blueshirts own the 15th overall pick. There is still plenty of time to look at who might be the newest Ranger. Instead, let us take a look back at the Rangers rather spotty history with the 15th overall pick in past NHL Drafts. In our review, we will see how Glen Sather played a bit part in this draft history before he was ever Rangers GM.
The Rangers will have one of the top 15 picks in back-to-back drafts for the first since 2003-2005 when they had three straight top 15 picks. In 2003, they selected the immortal Hugh Jessiman 12th overall. Yes, it is the same Hugh Jessiman who finally played his first two NHL games with Florida this season. The names of the forwards the Rangers passed on still bring heartache to Blueshirt fans: Dustin Brown, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Mike Richards.
In 2004, the Rangers drafted Al Montoya with the 6th pick and later drafted Lauri Korpikoski with the 19th pick – passing on the likes of Drew Stafford, Alexander Radulov, Travis Zajac, Wojtech Wolski, Andrej Meszaros, Cory Schneider, Jeff Schultz, and Mike Green.
Fortunately, the Rangers got it right in 2005 when they drafted Marc Staal 12th overall.
The first three times the Rangers owned the 15th overall pick, the selection was not even in the first round. Back in the original Six days of 1963 and 1964, that pick was in the third round and the Draft was limited to players who were not sponsored by NHL teams.
In 1963 they drafted Mike Cummins, who was so forgettable that no position is listed for him.
In 1964, they selected defenseman Gordon Lowe. Like Cummins, Lowe never played in the NHL. However, the Rangers did score with their 4th round pick (#21) center Syl Apps, Jr. With the Rangers flush with centers, GM Emile Francis traded Apps on January 26, 1971 to the Pittsburgh Penguins for – Glen Sather.
In 1967, expansion brought six new teams to the NHL and, as a result, the 15th overall pick was now a second rounder. The Rangers drafted defenseman Brian Tosh and the team was three-for-three in selecting players who never made it to the NHL. Interestingly enough, two players drafted after Tosh did: Bob “Battleship” Kelly (not to be confused with Bob “Hound Dog” Kelly who was a member of the Broad Street Bullies) and Al Karlander.
The Rangers owned two first round picks in 1972. With the 10th overall pick they drafted RW Al Blanchard (passing on future NHLers George Ferguson, Phil Russell and John Van Boxmeer). With the second first round pick, they drafted center Bob MacMillan at #15. While MacMillan only played 22 games as a Ranger, he did play in 753 NHL games and scored 228 goals and 349 assists.
In 1982, the Rangers drafted Chris Kontos with the 15th overall pick. While Kontos did appear in 78 games as a Ranger and in a total of 230 NHL games (54 goals and 69 assists), he is best remembered for his nine goals in 11 playoff games as a member of the Los Angeles Kings in 1989.
Unfortunately, in selecting Kontos the Blueshirts passed on the following three players who were drafted right after Kontos, with all three playing over 1000 NHL games: Dave Andreychuk (1639-640-698-1338), Murray Craven (1071-206-453-759) and Ken Daneyko (1283036-142-178). In addition, they passed over future Ranger Patrick Flatley (780-170-340-510) who was the last pick of first round (#21).
On the plus side, the Rangers did hit paydirt later in the 1982 Draft by selecting Tomas Sandstrom (2nd round-#36), Corey Millen (3rd round-#57), Tony Granato (6th round-#120), and Kelly Miller (9th round-#183).
In 1991, the Rangers finally got it right when Neil Smith may NHL Draft history when he made RW Alexei Kovalev the first Russian born first round draft pick. Serious career-ending injuries to Eric Lindros and Peter Forsberg leave Kovalev the leading scorer from the 1991 Draft with 428 goals and 596 assists in 1302 NHL games.
In the interest of full disclosure, I watched this draft with several friends who still give me grief because I wanted the Rangers to draft defenseman Brent Bilodeau. Thankfully, this one time, the Rangers did not listen to me because Bilodeau would have been a worse pick than Jessiman because he never made the NHL and bounced around the AHL, IHL and ECHL before retiring in 2005.
While John Tortorella has shown no interest in having a crowd behind bench since his return to New York, Torts might want to consider adding another assistant coach to join Michael Sullivan and Benoit Allaire. With Brad McCrimmon and the Detroit Red Wings agreeing to a mutual separation, the Rangers should not pass up the chance to bring in McCrimmon to work with their corps of young blueliners – that is if McCrimmon does not get one of the five coaching vacancies in the NHL.
McCrimmon is a veteran of 1,222 NHL games spread out with stops in Boston, Philadelphia, Calgary (won the Stanley Cup in 1989), Detroit, Hartford and Phoenix. He has been assistant coach for three organizations: the New York Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers and Red Wings. Interestingly enough, during his playing days in Detroit, McCrimmon helped break in a young defense partner – future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom.
Craig Custance of the Sporting News reported that “… a recent poll of NHL players, McCrimmon was named as one of the assistant coaches players believe should get a shot at a head coaching job. “