Barring any trades, the New York Rangers face a very slow Day 2 of the 2011 NHL Draft as trades have left them with just a 4th round pick (#106) and two 5th round draft picks (#134 from Calgary and their own at #136). Trying to navigate potential first and even second round draft picks is hard enough, but trying to look ahead and predict fourth and fifth rounds is a mighty Herculean task.

The Blueshirts best course of action is to try and draft the best players available, regardless of their position. If that means adding three more defenseman to an organization that is deep in blueliners so be it. The deeper the Rangers talent pool, the more options they have when it comes to making trades in the future.

Of course, we are all working on the assumption that Glen Sather does not burn up the telephone lines trying to replace some of his lost draft picks. It is possible that Sather might be willing to move some of his current prospects if a player on the Rangers radar is available. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Rangers might decide to move the rights to a free agent like Matt Gilroy if they have decided they are not interested in re-signing him.

Here is a list of players that should be on the Rangers radar if they last into the 4th and 5th rounds.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), TSN.ca (TSN), Red Line Report (RLR), 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. THN lists each prospect’s NHL Translation. Both ISS and RLR provide a prospects’ comparable NHL player. TSN ranked the Top 60 players and listed 25 Honorable Mentions.

KALE KESSY – LW –
THN: # 73 —– TSN: #: N/R —– CS: # 101 NA
RLR: # 48 (Milan Lucic) —– ISS: # 99

If the Rangers keep the status quo, one player that I would hope that falls to them in the 4th round is Kale Kessy. RLR is very high on the Medicine Hat (WHL) power forward. They compare his style of play to that of Milan Lucic. The 6-3/185 left winger scored 10 goals and 14 assists and 129 PIM in 65 games. I am not so certain he even gets by the second round, never mind falling to the fourth round, but if he does he is a perfect fit for the Rangers.

RLR wrote, “Another big-bodied WHL sleeper could probably make a career out of fighting, but we think he has much more to offer down the road. Has fought most of the older guys in the [WHL], and nobody wants to with him anymore. Played on one of the most highly skilled teams in the league and wasn’t relied on the produce offence, but you can’t help notice the raw tools.”

ISS wrote, “Kessy has a lot of tools in his shed, but has not been able to consistently display an effective combination of skill and grit on a regular basis. He can shoot, can fight, and he has shown a willingness to play unsung roles during the season.”

MIKE MCKEE – D –
THN: # N/R —– TSN: # N/R —– CS: 144 NA
RLR: # 40 (Kevin Hatcher) —– ISS: #158

The 6-5/230 McKee is another player that RLR is extremely high on. His ratings might be a bit off because he was converted to defense from LW this season at the Kent School and is a bit of a project because he is set to attend Northeastern University in 2012-2013.

RLR: “Has good skating ability and is mobile and very fluid/agile for his size….Due to his lack of experience, his d-zone footwork needs improvement. Beginning to embrace the physical aspect of the game – loves to lay the big hit and comes across ice to keep forwards honest….Not nearly the sum of his parts yet, but could become a special player if he harnesses tools.

ISS: “Big mobile and smooth skating defenseman … good puck skills … sees the ice well …long reach.”

TJ TYNAN – C –
THN: N/R —– TSN: N/R —– CS: N/R
RLR: 102 (Chad LaRose) —– ISS: 182

The 5-8/156 Tynan was draft eligible last year, but was not selected. He played his freshman season at Notre Dame (CCHA) and scored 19 goals and 27 assists in 36 games. Tynan was set to play last season with Des Moines (USHL) until Kyle Palmieri left school to sign with Anaheim. RLR sees him as a “quality 4th line role player”.

This is what his bio on the Fighting Irish web site says about Tynan: “talented player who makes up for his size with a ton of skill … has tremendous on-ice vision … finds the open man and makes plays … intelligent with the puck … makes his teammates better … strong passer who can also finish … has a good, accurate wrist shot.”

RLR: “It’s ridiculous he wasn’t selected last year. Gets overlooked due to his lack of size, but once again persevered and brought his ‘A’ game every night as one the 3-4 best true freshmen in college hockey. Quick, shifty, skilled-centre creatively outwits larger opponents. Pocket-size, but competes like a bastard and has excellent hands and moves….Has the fire and mental make-up to overcome obstacles.”

ISS: “Draft sleeper! … smaller size, offensively-minded center … explosive skating [with] superior edge control … can score in bunches … needs to bulk up.”

MYLES BELL – D –
THN: # 67 —– TSN: N/R —– CS: # 39 NA
RLR: #76 (Bigger version of Ian White) —– ISS: 195

The 6-0/210 defenseman should be a 2nd or 3rd round pick (some even say 1st round) based on his talent and ability. However, there are off-ice issues that make Bell’s future uncertain. In late April, the 17-year-old was hospitalized following a car crash in Calgary that claimed the life of an 18-year-old girl. I did not find any additional information on what charges the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will file against Bell – possibly due to Bell being a minor.

I do not condone or excuse what Bell did. Remember, the rangers traded for Craig MacTavish who missed the 1984/1985 season due to a conviction for vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol. After spending a year in prison, MacTavish returned to the Boston Bruins and resumed his NHL career. I am merely including Bell based strictly on his hockey talent and the possibility he will be available in the 4th/5th rounds.

Bell is an offensive-minded d-man who would bring the power play specialist the Rangers and their fans are looking for. In 66 games with Regina (WHL), he scored 13 goals and 31 assists with 87 PIM.

RLR: “Smooth skater who can really go with the puck on his stick and loves to push it aggressively up ice, but lacks top speed straight line speed and needs to work on his lateral movement. Runs a productive power play and can trigger it himself with a huge point blast….Tends to get away from his assignments and gives up on plays. Strong and plays with some nastiness, but needs to learn that sometimes less is more.”

ISS: “Good offensive instincts … very good skater/mobility … tough customer … PP quarterback … heavy shot.”

MAXIME LAGACE – G –

THN: #: N/R —– TSN: N/R —– CS: # 21NA-G
RLR: # 99 (Martin Biron) —– ISS: 19 G

The Rangers have three prospect goaltenders under contract in their system (Jason Missiaen, Scott Stajcer and Cam Talbot) with Chad Johnson a free agent. The Rangers would be wise to take a flyer on a goalie at some point in the 2011 Draft – even if they have to trade down in the 4th or fifth round in order to acquire an extra draft pick.

The 6-1/175 netminder backed up Evan Mosher with Prince Edward Island (QMJHL). Lagace, who did not turn 18 until January 2011, appeared in 18 games posting an 8-4-0 re4cord with a 3.59 goals against average, .884 save percentage and 1 shutout.

RLR sees his NHL projection as a “Back-up with physical tools to develop into #1”. Lagace was rated as the $ 9 North American goaltender in the CS mid-term rankings.

RLR: “Here’s the real Red Line sleeper. Much like J.F. Berube two years ago, Lagace was a victim of spending a lot of time on the bench behind a workhorse #1 netminder. He’s got a great goalie’s build … Has shown very quick legs/pads, gets a fine push-off moving laterally, and has a strong glove. Was thought to be a late-’93 until mid-season, so scouts were late to focus on him. He’s as big a projection as any player in the draft having not been heavily tested against top clubs, but we feel with proper development he can be one of the top goaltenders from this draft class.”

ANTON ZLOBIN – RW –

THN: N/R —– TSN: N/R —– CS: N/R
RLR: # 110 (Mats Zuccarello) —– ISS: # 129 (N/A)

Zlobin is another one of those European players who crossed the Atlantic to further their hockey careers. Zlobin left Russia to play with Shawinigan (QMJHL). In 59 games, he scored 23 goals and 22 assists with 28 PIM during the regular season with 5 goals and 1 assist in 12 playoff games. In the U-17 tournament, he scored 2 goals and 8 assists in 6 games.

RLR: “has game-breaking goal scoring ability and is lights-out deadly on breakaways. Has a natural sniper’s touch and rarely makes a mistake around the net – buries his chances….Thrives in open ice, but toughness and ability to play in tight checking games is a question mark…..Stays mostly on the perimeter; doesn’t go into traffic much, but often finds the right moment to jump into the play.”

ISS: “He has a very good stick, displaying a tom of composure and patience when he has possession of the puck. “… Zlobin really struggled with the physical North American game and will need to improve this aspect of his game to have a realistic shot at the NHL.”

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