I don’t know whose idea it was to have Derek Boogaard’s brother Aaron make the Rangers first selection at the 2011 NHL Draft, but that person deserves to have their name known. The New York Rangers may not always make the right on-ice moves, but this decision was an absolute Hall-of-Famer decision by the Blueshirts – and they deserve all the credit in the world for it.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about their first round draft pick J.T. Miller – especially when players like Mark McNeill (my selection in my Draft Preview) and Joel Armia were still available.

Outside of Red Line Report (RLR) who had him ranked as their ninth best player, Miller was seen as a mid-first rounder by the likes of International Scouting Service (ISS) who had Miller as their 17th best player and NHL’s Central Scouting (CS) who ranked him as the 23rd best skater in North America, and TSN.ca ranked the center as their 18th best prospect. The Hockey News (THN) ranked him 59th.

Interestingly enough, RLR compared Miller’s style of play to that of Erik Cole. While Cole is a nice player, I don’t know any GMs who would select him with the 15th overall pick.

On the other hand, RLR compared Armia’s style of play to that of Tomas Vanek/James Neal.

Anyone who needs to review McNeill’s pedigree can simply check out Part 1 of my Rangers Draft Preview to see how he was ranked. As for Armia, well that is a different story. Frankly, he probably would have been my choice over McNeill with the 15th pick.

I didn’t bother to include the Finnish RW because I did not see him lasting until the Rangers pick at #15 – I had him going to Colorado with the 11th overall pick – with good reason. All of the scouting services I used had him ranked higher than Miller on the whole. Only RLR had Miller ranked higher (20th as opposed to 9th). Miller was ranked 13th by ISS and 15th by THN while CS ranked him as the 4th best European skater.

While Armia has parts of his game that still need work (including defense and finding a consistent high work level), the one thing Armia does bring to the table are world-class offensive skills in a 6-3/191 package.

I know people are putting their trust in Gordie Clark’s track record when waiting to see how Miller’s development progresses – and that is a valid point. However, to me, it seems that the Rangers have J.T. Miller type players already in their system – good solid two-way forwards – as opposed to the game-breaking potential that Armia has.

Since the Rangers did not have a safety net of the two 2nd round draft picks, it appears that the organization decided to go the safe route with Miller rather than take a risk on someone like Joel Armia.

In speaking with NHL.com, David Gregory of CS offered up his assessment of Miller.

“I like how he uses his size and strength. He is a power forward that can dominate on the boards and possesses a great shot. He moves very well, has the ability to impose his will on the game. He just needs to improve his consistency, especially using his strength, game in and game out. He’ll be a better overall player when his puck-handling and confidence with the puck improves.”

As expected, the Rangers pulled off a couple of trades to replace draft picks lost in previous deals. In order to move back into the 3rd round, Glen Sather sent Evgeny Grachev to St. Louis in exchange for the 72nd overall pick – which the Rangers used to select Edina High School’s Steven Fogarty.

While you hate to see a team give up on a player like Grachev, it must just be time for both sides to move on – a point that Sather stressed while addressing the media following the Draft.

“He just felt that he wasn’t fitting in with our system. He’s been with us for three years now, two years in Hartford. We liked him. We just feel that the person that we got in the trade is going to be able to respond a little bit quicker,” wrote Jesse Spector of the Daily News. “Sometimes guys get trapped up in that situation where they don’t think they can go anywhere, and you’re better off going. They really like (Steven) Fogarty, so we made a deal to get him.”

Ranger fans shouldn’t expect to see the 6-2/194 center anytime soon. Fogarty is expected to play next season with the Chicago Steel of the USHL before heading to the University of Notre Dame.

Fogarty was ranked 78th by RLR and as the 90th NA skater by CS. RLR projected Fogarty out as a “physical 3rd/4th line checking centre” and compared his style to Tomas Kopecky.

Here is what RLR wrote about Fogarty:

“Athletic Playmaking Centre with a lean, muscular frame and great natural strength. Has good vision and hockey sense. Skilled passer who looks to dish first and shoot second, but he can score and does have an accurate shot. Has the ability to make big plays at crucial moments. Will give you everything he’s got every shift. Keeps his big body in motion at all times and is persistent on the forecheck, but we’d like to see him drive the net more and finish off his checks with more gusto. His skating is rough at this stage, but stride isn’t bad – it’s more just a lack of leg strength for now. Supports his defencemen and is sharp to mark his defensive assignments. Tough to knock off the puck but his feet, especially his first two strides, need some work.”

His future coach at Notre Dame, Jeff Jackson, offered the following opinion on the Fighting Irish’s official web site, “Steven is a smart, offensive player who has excellent instincts with and without the puck. He has shown strong scoring skills at the high school level. He has excellent character and leadership ability and I think he can be an impact player at Notre Dame after spending a year in junior hockey (Chicago Steel – USHL).”

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