June 2012


The New York Rangers entered the 2012 NHL Draft with a chance to add a legacy prospect to their ranks in the first round as Henrik Samuelsson (son of former defenseman Ulf Samuelsson) and Stefan Matteau (son of LW Stephane Matteau) were names rumored to be available with the 28th overall pick.

Don Maloney eliminated any chance of Henrik Samuelsson being drafted by the Blueshirts when he drafted him just one spot before the Rangers selected. With the opportunity for echoes of “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau” to ring through Madison Square Garden, the Rangers brain trust passed in favor of Brady Skjei (pronounced “shay”) as the organization continued to stockpile young mobile defenseman.

Of course, it in the biggest piece of irony that came out of the 2012 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils drafted Matteau with the 29th overall pick. I guess Devils President/GM was not going to let another Matteau beat him in the playoffs.

While I trust that Director of Player personnel Gordie Clark knows what he is doing, my preference would have been to trade down into the second round and pick up extra draft picks.

In the second round, the Rangers selected center Cristoval “Boo” Nieves with the 59th overall pick. Nieves, from Baldwinsville, NY, played in prep school hockey at the Kent School in Connecticut.

The Rangers elected to trade their 2012 third round draft pick to the Nashville Predators for their 2013 third round draft pick.

The Blueshirts returned to the draft board with their fourth round selection at #119. This time the Rangers did not pass up on the chance to draft a legacy prospect as they selected defenseman Calle Andersson – son of former Ranger blueliner Peter Andersson who played 39 games for the team in 1992-193 and 1993-94 before being traded to the Florida Panthers. Both Anderssons were fourth round picks, although Peter retains bragging rights because he was drafted with the 73th overall pick.

Just when you thought the Rangers were finished, they turned to their third round trade partners and made a deal with Nashville. This time the Predators were trading their 2012 fifth round pick for the Rangers 2013 fifth round pick. The Blueshirts used that pick to draft RW Thomas Spelling from Denmark.

While I can speak about Spelling’s style of play, it is apparent that the Rangers placed an emphasis on strong skating in their 2012 draft strategy, as well as focusing on prospects who are projected to be solid two-way players.

BRADY SKJEI

Central Scouting (CS): #19 North American skater
International Scouting Service (ISS): #26
McKeen’s (McK): #21
Red Line Report (RLR): #29
The Hockey News (THN): 26

The 6-foot-3 and 200 pound defenseman spent last season as part of the U.S. National Development Team program. In 56 games with the Under-18 team, Skjei scored four goals and 18 assists with 32 PIM. Brady helped lead the USA to Gold in the U-18 tournament. While he only posted a lone assist in six games, he was a Plus-10 for the tournament.

Skjei will attend the University of Minnesota, where his grandfather, Stan, starred as a football player in the early 1960s.

CS: His USNTDP Coach Danton Cole said, “His game has improved greatly, both offensively and defensively. He’s a tremendous skater and a good example of a guy who understands the little nuances of playing defense. He’s thrived in the [USNTDP] program and is a physical specimen; he’s big and strong and has made great strides in learning how to play the game. His angling is good and he has put himself in a really good position moving forward in his career.”

ISS: They compare his style of play to future Ranger teammate Ryan McDonagh. They describe him as a “big, smooth skating defender with great offensive potential and some reliable defensive instincts.” They do say that he “needs to continue working on his defensive zone coverage.”

McK: “Skjei plays a skilled two-way game, as he can do many things well and has good size to complement his all-around game. A more than capable skater, he is fluid in all directions thanks to a crisp stride, long extension and he possesses multiple levels of speed…. Not overly belligerent, his game lacks a physical component to it, yet he compensates with a stead compete level and uses his size in one-on-one situations advantageously.”

THN: They list Skjei’s NHL Translation as “smooth-skating defenseman”. One scout told THN, “It looks like poetry watching this guy skate. He’s effortless and massive, which makes him attractive. He sometimes makes some shaky decisions, but his skating ability for his size is frightening.” Another scout said. “When somebody gets him at the next level and tells him. ‘Just be simple and go with your skating stride,’ he’ll be a real effective NHLer.”

CRISTOVAL “BOO” NIEVES

CS: #27 North American skater
ISS: #63
McK: #48
RLR: #94
THN: #55

The 6-foot-3 and 184 pound Nieves played his prep school hockey with Kent in Connecticut and seven goals and 32 assists in 39 games (12 PIM). After finishing up at Kent, Nieves headed west to play for the Indiana Ice in the USHL. In 13 games with Indiana, he scored two goals and eight assists with 2 PIM. Nieves was a member of the USA team that competed at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament where he tallied three assists in four games.

Nieves will attend the University of Michigan where he is set to wear future teammate Carl Hagelin’s #12.

ISS: Since they only do style comparisons for their Top 60 players, Nieves just missed the cutoff. Here is their Scouting Report on Boo, “Nieves rocketed up the charts after showing off his stuff with USA at the Ivan Hlinka. A very raw prospect that has much upside. Nieves is a smooth skater with explosive quickness. He has good size but is very thin and has a ton of room to build on hi frame. He has great hands and displays a high level of skill. An excellent playmaker, Nieves can create offense off the rush. He tends to be a set up man more than a shooter.”

McK: “Nieves’ game is predicated on speed because of his first-step quickness, effortless stride and ability to change directions, which are among the best in the draft…. Nieves is more of a playmaker-passer since he sees he ice well and gains considerable real estate with his speed…,His lack of scoring will relegate him more in the mold of a defensive forward at the NHL level. His elite speed and passing skills make him a sought after commodity; however, he is labeled a ‘buyer beware’ pick as his game is far from complete.”

THN: They listed Nieves’ NHL Translation as “offensive forward.” One scout told them, “He’s got tremendous tools. When you go see him, he jumps out at you. He gets up to speed really fast and he’s a quick strider. Creates turnovers and reads the play.” THN pointed out that while he creates plays, “finishing those plays was a concern and his numbers at Kent School in Connecticut were not overwhelming based on his elite skill level.”

CALLE ANDERSSON

Central Scouting (CS): #15 European skater
International Scouting Service (ISS): #47
McKeen’s (McK): #68
Red Line Report (RLR): #144
The Hockey News (THN): 87

The 6-foot-2 and 208 pound Andersson is a right-handed shooting defenseman that THN described as a “Mobile d-man [who] can play big minutes and makes a great first pass. He played for Farjestad Junior team in Sweden and scored 12 goals and 24 assists with 36 PIM in 49 games. Andersson also represented Sweden at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and at the World Junior Championship. In 10 games with the Swedish U-18 team, he scored three goals and six assists.

ISS: They compare his style of play to that of Christian Backman. “A mobile defender with good size, Andersson stood out for all the right reasons during the U-18 WJC. He found himself logging major minutes in all critical and crucial situations …. An effective two-way blue-liner who gets his stick in the passing lanes and uses his strong skating ability to position himself in the defensive zone.” ISS says that Andersson need work on “[using] his massive frame more to his advantage. Improve shot.” They do say that his NHL potential is as a “top four all-around defenseman”.

McK: “Andersson had a productive Hlinka tournament while playing a permanent role in the top-four rotation. Andersson shows flashes of his skill, but there appears to be a dimension of his game that is missing. He struggled against better competition at the World U18 Championships because he wasn’t quick enough to make plays with the puck…. His skating is above average as he has a good stride and shows some explosiveness out of the gate…. Andersson will return to U20 juniors next season, which should give him ample ice time to iron out his game.”

THOMAS SPELLING

CS: #90 European skater
RLR: #115
ISS, McK and THN: Not Rated.

The 6-foot-1 and 176 pound Spelling really opened scouts eyes with his performance in the Danish playoffs this year while playing Herning Blue Fox. In 17 playoff games, Spelling registered 10 goals and 10 assists with 14 PIM as he led Herning to the Danish championship.

Spelling was no slouch during the regular season as he averaged better than a point per game in 33 games (21-16-37-6 PIM). He also represented Denmark at the WJC, scoring one goal and three assists in 6 games.

The 21-year-old has shown a steady increase in scoring in his three years in Denmark’s top league – progressing from 14 points in his rookie season to 29 points in his sophomore season to his career-high of 37 last season. Spelling will be playing for Rogle in the Sweden’s Elite League next season.

NHL.com rated Spelling as the top player to watch from Denmark. As it turns out he was the second of two Danish players to be drafted as Anaheim selected goalie Fredrik Andersen in the fourth round (#87).

Here is how the Rangers official web site describes Spelling: “Strong transition player who is highly skilled with a very quick release.”

PROSPECTS DEVELOPMENT CAMP

The Rangers are in the midst of their annual Prospects Development Camp that brings together 16 players whose NHL rights are owned by the Rangers along with 15 invited players. There are four intriguing names among the invitees. Two of them have connections to Madison Square Garden.

Gabe Grunwald is the son of New York Knicks GM Glen Grunwald and played last season in the NAHL. He is committed to attend the University of Wisconsin starting with the 2013-2014 season. I would presume that he is in camp as a favor to his father.

Andy Bathgate is the grandson of Hall of Famer, and Rangers legend, Andy Bathgate. In addition to his grandfather, the younger Bathgate has another connection to the Blueshirts – sort of. He was Pittsburgh’s fifth round draft pick (#151) in the 2009 NHL Draft – a pick that was acquired from the Rangers, even though it was originally Pittsburgh’s pick. Confused? Allow me to explain.

The Penguins originally traded their fifth round pick to Toronto in February 2008 as part of the deal that brought Hal Gill to Pittsburgh. The Blueshirts acquired the pick from the Maple Leafs in July 2008 in a deal that Ryan Hollweg to Toronto. Pittsburgh reacquired the pick from the Rangers in the trade that sent the rights to Chad Johnson to New York.

Pittsburgh gave up their rights to Bathgate when they did not sign him by June 1, 2011. As a result, Bathgate was eligible to be re-drafted in 2011, but was not selected.

“Andy Bathgate hasn’t played much hockey for a while,” assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald told Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “You look at his numbers, and say, ‘Well, geez, he should be doing this or that. He’s a first-line center.’
“But he hasn’t played much hockey. He’s a tough kid to project because of the lack of games he’s played over the last 2 1/2 years because of his shoulder injury.”

The 6-foot-1 and 175 pound center played last season with the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) and scored 19 goals and 44 assists in 68 regular season games and then added five goals and three assists in 13 playoff games.
IN 2009, ISS offered the following brief comments on Bathgate in their Draft Preview, “Strong work ethic. Anticipates well. Not overly physical. Good acceleration. PK specialist”.

You have to figure that Bathgate could be in the mix for a spot in the AHL.

The other two players of interest have no connection to the Rangers and present an interesting set of skills.

In January 2011, Myles Bell was the subject of a feature story on NHL.com. The story, by Alan Bass, focused on Bell’s attempts to work on becoming a better two-way defenseman as he approached the 2011 NHL Draft.

“He’s got tremendous offensive instincts,” Regina Coach Curtis Hunt told Bass.
“That’s probably one of his greatest attributes. He’s got real good poise with the puck, a tremendous shot from the blue line and good vision across the top and in special-teams situations — and from behind the goal line. He has a good first pass, as well. He’s probably as tough as they come, and at 17 he can probably take on anyone (physically).”

In addition to Bell’s Junior coach, Bass also spoke to Peter Sullivan who was with the NHL’s Central Scouting.

“He’s got very good hockey sense and sees the ice well,” Sullivan explained to Bass. “He can either slow down the style of the game or speed it up when he wants to. He’s definitely got all the tools. He has a good shot. He’s used in all situations, both on the power play and penalty kill. He can lay out the big hits. He’s got all the aspects that you want in a defenseman.”

Three months later Bell went from NHL prospect to lucky to be alive when he was involved in a fatal car accident in Calgary in April 2011 that claimed the life of Bell’s 18-year-old passenger. This past March Bell was sentenced to two years probation and 240 hours of community service and is prohibited from driving for five years.

The Canadian Press wrote, “Justice Gerry Meagher says the youth, who was 17 at the time, was guilty of driving at excessive speed but has shown remorse.”

Bell was driving 100 kilometers per mile over the speed limit, or about 62 MPH.

After playing his first three Junior season with Regina, Bell was traded to Kelowna last season. The 6-fott and 200 pound blueliner played battled injuries and played 54 regular season games, scoring 15 goals and 26 assists with 55 PIM. In four playoff games with the Rockets, Bell tallied a goal and an assist. One of Bell’s Kelowna teammates last season was Rangers prospect Shane McColgan.

This is not the first time that Glen Sather has extended a second chance to a player who was involved in a fatal car accident. Sather signed Craig MacTavish in 1985 after MacTavish spent a year in jail for vehicular homicide after the Boston Bruins let him out of his contract following his release from prison.

The final player of interest is center Dane Fox – who was draft eligible this year, but was passed over. I have to admit that I considered Fox as I was drafting my Second Round NHL Mock Draft, but I eventually saw him as a third round selection. What is interesting in the bypassing of Fox is that he received high marks from the four scouting services that I studied. CS rated him their 46th best North American skater. ISS had him as their 54th best prospect and compared him to Dave Bolland. McK listed ho mast the 60th best player available, while THN listed him as their 76th best prospect.

According to Mark Malone of the Chatham Daily News (in Canada), the Rangers told Fox they were really interested in him, but only had four selections. You have to wonder that if the Rangers really wanted to, they could have found a way to pick up a stray seventh round draft pick. It will be interesting to see if they regret their inaction as Fox is eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft.

“That made me feel a lot better” Fox admitted to Malone in reference to the Rangers interest. “It was a long, long, long day for me, but I’ve been through a lot worse. This is just more motivation.”

“I was obviously a bit disappointed (to go undrafted) being ranked where I was, but you try to stay positive,” he said.

The 6-foot-1 and 186 pound Fox played last season with the OHL’s London Knights and Erie Otters and scored 23 goals and 54 assists with 87 PIM in 62 games.

McKeen’s offered one possibility as to why Fox slid out of the 2012 NHL Draft.

In their 2012 Draft Guide they wrote, “Despite his improved play and lead-by-example attitude he displayed with the Otters, Fox has some off-ice character issues that could lower his stock and NHL teams would need to do their homework before making him their selection.”

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The 2012 NHL Entry Draft represents the 50th draft conducted by the National Hockey League. The first NHL draft took place on June 5, 1963 in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

Prior to 1963, teams acquired amateur players through a series of Junior team sponsorships. The Draft was instituted a means to eliminate the sponsorships. However, players who were already part of an NHL’s team sponsored list were ineligible.

In The Hockey News’ NHL Draft Preview, Brian Costello wrote a brief history of the draft. In the article, he quoted Toronto Maple Leafs President Stafford Smythe who spoke about the need for a change back in November 1962.

“A Universal draft has to come,” Costello quotes Smythe. “Take a look at the records. Montreal and Toronto clubs won 14 of the last 19 Stanley Cups. When the other owners get to see the picture correctly, they’ll vote to change the rules.”

With the pickings so slim, it came as no surprise that only 21 of a possible 24 players were drafted. The Detroit Red Wings passed on the third and fourth round selections while the Chicago Blackhawks passed on their fourth round selection.

Of the 21 players drafted in the four rounds, only five made the NHL: Garry Monahan (1st overall), Peter Mahovlich and Walt McKechnie were first round selections. Jim McKenny was drafted in the third round and Gerry Meehan was the last selection of the draft in the fourth round.

It took a few years before the draft would produce what NHL President Clarence Campbell said would be “a uniform opportunity for each team to acquire a star player” when the New York Rangers drafted Brad Park with the second overall pick in the 1966 Draft.

For the third consecutive year, the Edmonton Oilers will have the first overall pick and first chance to fulfill Campbell’s vision. It also marks the fourth straight year the Oilers will have a Top 10 draft pick.

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is attempting to recreate the draft success the Pittsburgh Penguins when they made five Top 5 selections from 2002-2006 as they drafted Ryan Whitney (#5-2002), Marc-Andre Fleury (#1-2003 after trading up), Evgeni Malkin (#2-2004), Sidney Crosby (#1-2002), and Jordan Staal (#2-2006).

It is pretty much a given that Russian-Born LW Nail Yakupov is the top player in 2012 Draft. While his first name is pronounced “Nah-eel”, many fans wanted their teams to “Fail for Nail” – as THN pointed out. One scout told THN, “He’s a goal-scorer. A game creator with his speed and his ability to put the puck in the net.”

The problem for the Oilers is that, since 2007, they have used six of eight first round picks on forwards. Edmonton might be better off looking to draft one of the top defensemen available – whether it is Ryan Murray, Matt Dumba, Morgan Rielly, or Griffin Reinhart.

The question is will Edmonton just draft the best player available, or will they just draft the defenseman that bests fits their needs? If the Oilers decide to pass on Yakupov, there will be a long line of teams rushing to trade for the first overall selection.

Would Edmonton accept Rick Nash (should he agree) as part of a bigger deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets?

Speaking of Nash, his future will play a big part in how the draft shapes up. Will the Blue Jackets look to draft a replacement or will they go for Ryan Murray?

New GM Marc Bergevin would love dearly to make a big splash in first draft with the Habs, but does he have enough to interest the Oilers?

While the Islanders have John Tavares and some offensive talent, would GM Garth Snow look for another valuable offensive weapon as a means to move the franchise’s agenda of getting a new arena?

Brian Burke is getting much heat in Toronto, but is it enough heat for Burke to gamble like he did when he traded for Phil Kessel?

Since my crystal ball is out being serviced for the summer, I am going to leave the draft order as it is as of June 21.

In this Mock Draft, each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), 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. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

1. Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov – RW
CS: # 1NA —– McK: # 1
THN: # 1 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 1 (Pavel Bure)
If GM Steve Tambellini holds on to the 1st pick, the Oilers will adhere to the motto of “draft the best player available”. ISS probably described Yakupov best when they wrote, “Simply put, he is a Ferrari. A dynamic scorer. Undisputed top player in the draft.”

2. Columbus Blue Jackets – Filip Forsberg – RW
CS: # 1E —– McK: # 3
THN: # 2 (Two-way Forward) —– ISS: # 2 (Jordan Staal)
Columbus expects to be the center of draft universe in Pittsburgh given the Nash situation and their 2nd overall draft position. Since the strength of the draft is in defensemen, it makes sense for GM Scott Howson to bring in a top forward

3. Montreal Canadiens – Mikhail Grigorenko – C
CS: # 3NA —– McK: # 9
THN: # 3 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 4 (Russian Joe Thornton)
Murray and Alex Galchenyuk will get long looks for the Habs, but Grigorenko’s offensive abilities, and size, will be too much to pass up. In addition to his on-ice pluses, Grigorenko is used to playing in Quebec province from his QMJHL days.

4. New York Islanders – Ryan Murray – D
CS: # 2 NA —– McK: # 4
THN: # 4 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 3 (Nicklas Lidstrom)
Isles have a cadre of young prospects among their forwards corps so bringing a top-notch d-man is the next step in the natural progression of rebuilding a franchise. With that said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Isles move down to take another d-man and add more draft picks.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs –Alex Galchenyuk – C
CS: #4NA —– McK: # 2
THN: # 7 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 14 (Paul Stastny)
I see the Maple Leafs as the biggest pursuer of the Oilers 1st pick because Brian Burke needs to make a splash. Galchenyuk is as talented as they come, but he lost a year of development after suffering a torn ACL. Toronto might go elsewhere if there is a concern over Galchenyuk’s health.

6. Anaheim Ducks – Griffin Reinhart – D
CS: # 10NA —– McK: # 7
THN: # 8 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 5 (Rob Blake)
Ducks have some age and decision to make among their forwards. Teemu Selanne will be back while Saku Koivu is an UFA – and they face the likelihood of losing Justin Schultz as an UFA. With the strength of this part of the draft in blueliners, look for Anaheim to go with the son of former NHLer Paul Reinhart as his size, shot and hockey sense push him ahead of the rest.

7. Minnesota Wild – Jacob Trouba – D
CS: # 9NA —– McK: # 10
THN: # 9 (Defensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 5 (Jack Johnson)
The Wild could look to go with a forward to help boost their offense, but Trouba brings in the size and grit they can use on defense. ISS says he “has the size, skill and skating ability to be a top two NHL d-man.”

8. Carolina Hurricanes – Teuvo Teravainen – LW
CS: # 2E —– McK: # 5
THN: # 12 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 9 (Claude Giroux)
The Canes could go with Faksa to provide a physical compliment to Eric Staal. However, Teravainen offers a smooth skating LW who is able to use his hockey IQ to enhance his puckhandling ability.

9. Winnipeg Jets – Radek Faksa – C/LW
CS: #7NA —– McK: # 16
THN: # 11 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 16 (James van Riemsdyk)
With Ondrej Pavelec being romanced by the KHL, the Jets could start the goalie rush. If not, the Jets will go with Faksa who adds size and power to their forwards corps. If Faksa goes to Carolina, the Jets will probably look at Teravainen or one of the d-men.

10. Tampa Bay Lightning – Morgan Rielly – D
CS: # 5NA —– McK: # 6
THN: #6 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 7 (Kris Letang)
With Anders Lindback in the fold, GM Steve Yzerman can continue the transformation of the Lightning. Rielly is an outstanding skater and puckhandler who will eat major minutes and can play in all situations.

11. Washington Capitals (1) – Sebastian Collberg – RW
CS: #3E —– McK: # 14
THN: # 14 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 13 (Jeff Skinner)
With Alexander Semin a good bet to leave as an UFA, Collberg would provide Alex Ovechkin a shooter/scorer to team up with in the future. While he didn’t score any points in 41 games in Sweden’s Elite League (playing a few shifts per game), Collberg was a big part of Tre Kronor’s WJC gold medal performance.

12. Buffalo Sabres – Matt Dumba – D
CS: # 11NA —– McK: # 6
THN: # 5 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 8 (Chris Chelios)
The Sabres would probably prefer to draft a forward, but Dumba’s talent is too good to pass up. He is a top two d-man who is an outstanding offensive player with good instincts defensively. He just needs to bulk to his 6-0/180 frame to make an impact in the NHL.

13. Dallas Stars – Brendan Gaunce – C
CS: # 13NA —– McK: # 18
THN: # 17 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 11 (David Backes)
Brendan’s brother Cameron Gaunce is a d-man in the Colorado organization. Brendan projects out to be a solid two-way power forward that brings leadership and hockey sense to a well-rounded NHL game.

14. Calgary Flames – Cody Ceci – D
CS: # 6NA —– McK: # 12
THN: # 10 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 10 (Brent Burns)
Ceci is a solid all-around blueliner who combines an offensive flair within a 6-3/210 frame. Ceci fits the Flames need to add offense and scoring from their defensemen.

15. Ottawa Senators – Derrick Pouliot -D
CS: # 12NA —– McK: # 17
THN: # 13 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 22 (Brian Campbell)
Ottawa has some good young talent on the way at forward with Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg. Pouliot adds another offensive weapon to go along with Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson.

16. Washington Capitals – Olli Maatta – D
CS: # 8NA —– McK: # 13
THN: # 20 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 12 ((Dmitry Kalikov)
With Dennis Wideman an UFA, Roman Hamrlik getting old and Tom Poti retiring, Maatta fits in well with the 16th overall selection. He is a solid d-man who stepped up his play in the playoffs with 23 points in 19 playoff games.

17. San Jose Sharks – Zemgus Girgensons -C
CS: # 18NA —– McK: # 15
THN: #16 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 24 (Shane Doan)
Born in Latvia, Girgensons moved to the USHL to help speed along his development and adjustment to North American hockey. He is committed to the University of Vermont. Zemgus’ size and leadership skills make him a fine replacement for Joe Thornton.

18. Chicago Blackhawks – Matthew Finn -D
CS: # 16NA —– McK: # 20
THN: #18 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 18 (Ryan Suter)
The Blackhawks could begin a run on goaltenders given the need to find a young goalie to push Corey Crawford. Finn is a solid d-man who is positioned well to join Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on Chicago’s blue line.

19. Tampa Bay Lightning (2) – Thomas Wilson – RW
CS: #15NA —– McK: # 19
THN: # 25 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 17 (Ryan Clowe)
Yzerman could look to make it two defensemen in the 1st round but, after trading away Carter Ashton, Tampa Bay should draft Wilson as a power forward replacement in the organization. Even if Wilson’s potential doesn’t completely pan out, he would be an effective physical winger to ride shotgun for Steven Stamkos.

20. Philadelphia Flyers – Slater Koekkoek – D
CS: # 23NA —– McK: # 22
THN: # 23 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 21 (Justin Schultz)
With Chris Pronger’s career uncertain, the Flyers need to start stockpiling their blueline reserve. While he won’t make anyone forget Pronger in the physical aspect of the game, Koekkoek has good size and will be a boost to the Flyers PP. His development was stunted a bit last year as a shoulder injury limited him to just 26 games with Peterborough.

21. Buffalo Sabres (3) – Nicolas Kerdiles – C
CS: # 29NA —– McK: # 43
THN: # 33 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 15 (James Neal)
Buffalo has a lot of young talented forwards. However, the likes of Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe lack size – hence the drafting of Kerdiles (6-2/200). He helped lead the USA U-18 team to Gold and will continue his development at the University of Wisconsin. The Sabres might also consider Wilson if he slips down to this spot.

22. Pittsburgh Penguins – Stefan Matteau – C/LW
CS: # 17NA —– McK: # 26
THN: # 30 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 31(Brooks Laich)
The hometown Pens would love to make a splash as the host of the 2012 Draft. They have some cap concerns over extending Jordan Staal’s contract, so they might look to shake up the draft and move up as part of a trade. If not, Matteau adds size and leadership and can either fill a hole on the wing or at center. Ranger fans will not be happy that the son of Stephane Matteau goes to a divisional rival, but it could have been worse, he could have ended up with the Devils.

23. Florida Panthers – Hampus Lindholm – D
CS: # 4E —– McK: # 11
THN: # 15 (Two-way D-man) —– ISS: # 19 (Oliver Ekman-Larsson)
Dale Tallon has done a fine job rebuilding the Panthers. They have the enviable option of giving their prospects a chance to mature as opposed to rushing them (e.g. Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom). Lindholm has nice size (6-3/200) and showed good development as the season progressed. He helped his team, Rogle, gain promotion to the Swedish Elite League

24. Boston Bruins –Ludvig Bystrom – D
CS: # 8E —– McK: # 41
THN: # 19 (Two-way D-man) —– ISS: # 29 (Marc-Edouard Vlasic)
With Tim Thomas taking a “sabbatical”, the Bruins might look to draft a goalie to team with Tuukka Rask down the line. However, they can use another d-man to help Dougie Hamilton bridge the gap beyond Zdeno Chara. While Bystrom still needs to be more consistent, he showed he has the ability to step up his play as he played 20 games in the Elite League with Modo as an 18-year-old.

25. St. Louis Blues – Brady Skjei – D
CS: # 19NA —– McK: # 21
THN: # 26 (Smooth-skating D-man) —– ISS: # 26 (Ryan McDonagh)
The Blues have some good talent in the pipeline at forward with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, so adding another blue chip blueliner to help out Alex Pietrangelo is a good thing. Skjei is a big (6-3/205) fluid skating d-man with tremendous upside. He is committed to the University of Minnesota.

26. Vancouver Canucks – Henrik Samuelsson – C
CS: # 75NA —– McK: # 32
THN: # 50 (Third Line Center) —– ISS: # 27 (Mats Sundin)
With a decision to make between going with Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, Vancouver might be in the market for a goalie of the future. With Cody Hodgson dealt away at the deadline, Vancouver will look to Samuelsson to step into his spot. The son of former NHL d-man Ulf Samuelsson, Henrik is a solid two-way forward that thrives in the physical game. He will benefit from the tutelage of the Sedin Twins.

27. Phoenix Coyotes – Pontus Aberg – LW
CS: # 6E —– McK: # 28
THN: # 22 (Skilled Forward) —– ISS: # 20 (Phil Kessel)
With the Coyotes ownership still unsettled, GM Don Maloney is going to have to look to the Draft to add offensive help. Aberg played the majority of the season in the Swedish Elite League where he used his outstanding speed and competiveness to succeed.

28. New York Rangers – Dalton Thrower – D
CS: # 26NA —– McK: # 38
THN: # 29 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 28 (Kevin Bieksa)
The Rangers would have loved to see one of the power forwards fall to them, but that is not the case. The Blueshirts could look to the long-term future and draft a goalie to groom as Henrik Lundqvist’s eventual successor. In the end, Thrower might be a nice alternative. He is a right-handed shooting d-man that would fit in well with their bevy of lefty d-men. He is a fierce competitor who loves to be physical, throw big hits and fight when needed. He would see time on both the PK and PP for New York.

29. New Jersey Devils (4) – Andrei Vasilevski – G
CS: # 1E-G —– McK: # 23
THN: # 21 (Starting Goaltender) —– ISS: # 3-G (Not Available)
President/GM Lou Lamoriello must have something up his sleeve because some people expected the Devils to forfeit this pick as a result of the sanctions for circumventing the salary cap in re-signing Ilya Kovalchuk. It could be Lou buying time until he can secure a 1st round pick a trade or he might just have a particular player in mind. While Martin Brodeur defied Father Time, the Devils will have to replace him eventually. Vasilevski gets the call, although Oscar Dansk and Malcolm Subban are other possibilities.

30. Los Angeles Kings – Scott Laughton – C
CS: # 28NA —– McK: # 25
THN: # 42 (Shutdown Forward) —– ISS: # 23 (Dustin Brown)
The Kings have done well by their selection of Dustin Brown, so drafting Laughton would be a good way to look to the future. While he isn’t a big goal scorer, he is a hard worker with excellent hockey sense and is the type of two-way forward that would help the Kings in life after Brown.

First Round Draft Pick Transactions

1. Colorado’s 1st round pick goes to Washington as the result of the 7/1/11 trade that sent Semyon Varlamov to Colorado in exchange for a 2012 or 2013 2nd round pick and this pick.
2. Detroit’s 1st round pick goes to Tampa Bay as a result of the 2/21/12 trade that sent Kyle Quincey to Detroit in exchange for Sebastien Piche and this pick.
3. Nashville’s 1st round pick goes to Buffalo as a result of the 2/27/12 trade that sent Paul Gaustad and a 2013 4th round pick in exchange for this pick.
4. New Jersey has to forfeit one 1st round pick between 2011 (which they didn’t opt to do) and 2014, at their own choice, as a result of the penalty sanction due to cap circumvention when re-signing Ilya Kovalchuk. The penalty also included a $3 million fine and the forfeiture of the Devils 2011 3rd round pick. The Devils elected to keep this pick.

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In this Mock Draft, each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), 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. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

The draft positions are as of June 21 and presume that no trades will have been made since then.

31. Columbus Blue Jackets – Ville Pokka – D
CS: # 7E —– McK: # 33
THN: # 28 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 41 (Justin Faulk)
After selecting Filip Forsberg in the 1st round, Pokka is a good way to start off Saturday’s draft festivities. Of course a potential Rick Nash trade could change everything, but Pokka is an offensive d-man who is developing defensive game. Pokka played in Finland’s top league as an 18-year-old.

32. Edmonton Oilers – Malcolm Subban – G
CS: # 1NA-G —– McK: # 24
THN: # 48 (Starting Goaltender) —– ISS: # 2-G (Not Available)
Even if Devan Dubnyk proves to be Nikolai Khabibulin’s successor, the Oilers are going to need to address their goaltending at some point. P.K. Subban’s younger brother has only been playing goal since he was 12. A groin injury and a high ankle sprain limited him to just 39 games so his development did not progress as fast as it could have.

33. Montreal Canadiens – Mark Jankowski – C
CS: # 43NA —– McK: # 37
THN: # 37 (Skilled Forward) —– ISS: # 55 (Shawn Matthias)
A scout told THN that Jankowski reminds him of Joe Nieuwendyk. The one concern is that he did not play against the higher competition fellow prospects faced, but he has solid hockey sense. Mark is the nephew of Montreal scout Ryan Jankowski.

34. New York Islanders – Tim Bozon – LW
CS: # 42NA —– McK: # 45
THN: # 43 (Goal-scoring Forward) —– ISS: # 40 (Slava Kozlov)
The son of former NHLer Phillipe Bozon, Tim has done a lot of traveling as part of his hockey life. Born in St. Louis, he played junior hockey in Switzerland, played for France’s U-18 team and played last season in the WHL for Kamloops. In talking with THN, one scout compared him to David Perron.

35. Toronto Maple Leafs – Tomas Hertl – C
CS: # 5E —– McK: # 32
THN: #: 24 (Playmaking Forward) —– ISS: # (Luke Adam)
Hertl played in the Czech Republic’s Extraleague as a 19-year-old and was coached by former NHLer Vladimir Ruzicka. Hertl is a strong offensive player with good hockey sense, but only average skating ability. In addition to working on his skating, Hertl needs to work on his defensive play.

36. Anaheim Ducks – Martin Frk – RW
CS: # 20NA —– McK: # 36
THN: # 45 (Goal-scoring Forward) —– ISS: # 42 (Brett Hull)
If Frk were a better skater, he would have been a 1st round draft pick – that is how good his offensive abilities are. ISS said he is “a top line scoring winger in the mold of Bobby Ryan.” He had an interesting start to the year as a preseason concussion limited him to just 34 games and limited his ability to get into game shape for the Czech Republic’s WJC team.

37. Nashville Predators (1) – Oscar Dansk – G
CS: # 2E-G —- McK: # 34
THN: # 44 (Starting Goaltender) —– ISS: # 1-G (Not Available)
GM David Poile has made a career in Nashville at mining Europe for starting goalies. With Anders Lindback dealt away to Tampa Bay, Poile has a chance to add to that reputation. While Dansk has played junior hockey in Sweden the last two years, he played his prep hockey with Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota. In addition, he has experience representing Sweden in international competition.

38. Carolina Hurricanes – Colton Sissons – RW
CS: # 14 NA—– McK: # 29
THN: # 40 (Two-way Forward) —– ISS: # 25 (Ryan Callahan)
Sissons provides the Hurricanes with a forward with size after going for finesse in the first round. He is a tough and gritty forward who has outstanding hockey sense with a work ethic to match.

39. Winnipeg Jets – Daniil Zharkov – LW
CS: # 32NA —– McK: # 52
THN: # 49 (Skilled Forward) —– ISS: # 33 (Tomas Vanek)
Zharkov played only 50 games with Belleville because of a collarbone injury at the start of the season. The Russia native has spent his last two years in North America so he is familiar with the style of play on this side of the Atlantic. He has a big-time shot and NHL-caliber offensive potential, but must find consistency.

40. Tampa Bay Lightning – Jarrod Maidens – C
CS: # 35NA —– McK: # 47
THN: # 38 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 58 (Mike Richards)
Maidens season was cut short after 28 games due to a concussion. He plays solid in all three zones and is a competitor with leadership qualities. His junior coach showed enough trust to have Maidens on the ice in overtime in Game 7 of the OHL Finals in 2011. The 16-year-old repaid his coach’s trust by scoring the game-winning goal.

41. Colorado Avalanche – Phillip Di Giuseppe – LW
CS: # 22NA —– McK: # 31
THN: # 31 (Two-way Forward) —– ISS: # 35 (Russ Courtnall)
Di Giuseppe uses his hockey sense and game-reading skills to put himself into good scoring position – especially on the power play. While he still needs to work on his defensive play, you can bet that Coach Red Berenson will work on that as Phil approaches his sophomore season at the University of Michigan.

42. Buffalo Sabres – Adam Pelech – D
CS: # 120NA —– McK: # 57
THN: # 41 (Shutdown Defenseman) —– ISS: # 30 (Mark Stuart)
After adding an offensive d-man in the 1st round (as well Nic Kerdiles), Buffalo settles in with Pelech who will give them the prototypical defensive d-man. A broken wrist cost Pelech 24 games with Erie. His brother Matt is with the Calgary Flames and their uncle is Vancouver GM Mike Gillis.

43. Dallas Stars – Jordan Schmaltz – D
CS: # 34NA —– McK: # 44
THN: # 34 (Offensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 45 (Keith Yandle)
Schmaltz will bring an offensive game to the Stars and will serve as a compliment to huge Jamie Oleksiak (6-7/240). A strong shot and solid passing skills make him a valuable member of the PP. but he does need some work in the defensive zone. He has represented the USA in international play and is committed to attend the University of North Dakota.

44. Buffalo Sabres (2) – Jon Gillies – G
CS: # 6NA-G —– McK: # 61
THN: # Not Rated —– ISS: # 6-G (Not Available)
With all of the picks the Sabres have, they can take a flyer on a goalie for the future. Gillies has the size (6-5/215) teams want. Gillies needs to work on his technique, but will have a chance to do so at Providence College. He will also attend the USA National Junior team evaluation camp in Lake Placid.

45. Columbus Blue Jackets (3) – Andrey Makarov – G
CS: # 7NA-G —– McK: # 84
THN: # Not Rated —– ISS: # 19-G (Not Available)
While Columbus might need to find a veteran goalie to help out now, Makarov’s drafting will be a look to the future. Makarov began the WJC as Russia’s starting goalie before losing the job to Andrei Vasilevski. Makarov spelled the slumping Vasilevski at the end of the semifinals and then was brilliant in a 1-0 loss in the Gold medal game, stopping 57 of 58 shots. Makarov has played the last two seasons in the QMJHL.

46. Minnesota Wild (4) – Anton Slepyshev – LW
CS: # 10E —– McK: # 67
THN: # 51 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 36 (Brandon Sutter)
The Wild’s search for offense takes them to Russia for the power forward to be. Slepyshev started the year in the Russian junior league before graduating to the KHL where he played 39 games as an 18-year-old. While his offensive game is still developing, he is a solid player in his own zone and is strong on the penalty kill.

47. Carolina Hurricanes (5) – Patrick Sieloff – D
CS: # 31NA —– McK: # 42
THN: # 53 (Defensive Defenseman) —– ISS: # 44 (Travis Hamonic)
Sieloff has average size (6-0/200), but he plays a physical game and is a strong skater. As a result, he is able to be a plus penalty killer and has the ability to succeed in all situations of the game. Sieloff will move from the USNTDP to the University of Miami (Ohio) next season.

48. Chicago Blackhawks – Cristoval “Boo” Nieves – C
CS: # 27NA —– McK: # 48
THN: # 55 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 63 (Not Available)
After passing on a goalie in the 1st round, the Blackhawks might look to go goalie at this point in the draft (Matt Murray?). Odds are they will take a run at a netminder in the 3rd round and settle on Nieves as they look to add someone to anchor their second line. Nieves is more playmaker than scorer and his game is keyed by his speed and outstanding skating ability.

49. Detroit Red Wings – Tanner Pearson – LW
CS: # 25NA —– McK: # 39
THN: # 36 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 88 (Not Available)
It will be next to impossible to replace Nicklas Lidstrom, but Detroit will look to prospect Brendan Smith and UFA Ryan Suter. Pearson was passed over in the last two drafts, but his determination and development made him the first Canadian since Danny Syvret in 2005 to make the WJC team as an undrafted player. He lost a chance to finish a great season with an even bigger flourish when a broken fibula cost him any chance at playing in the playoffs.

50. Nashville Predators (6) – Mike Matheson – D
CS: # 30NA —– McK: # 30
THN: # 27 (Two-way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 34 (Jake Gardiner)
Matheson spurned a chance to play in the QMJHL to commit to Boston College. Matheson is an offensive d-man who uses those skills to be a strong power play QB. While he needs to continue to develop his defensive game, Matheson matched up against opposing top lines as he helped lead Canada to Gold in the Ivan Hlinka tournament.

51. Montreal Canadiens (7) – Damon Severson – D
CS: # 48NA —– McK: # 53
THN: # 65 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 50 (Tim Gleason)
Severson is a solid defenseman who plays a steady game in all three zones and has the ability to play in all situations as well. He plays a physical style and is not afraid to block shots – and will drop the gloves if need be.

52. Pittsburgh Penguins – Andreas Athanasiou – C
CS: # 40NA —– McK: # 106
THN: # 32 (Skilled Forward) —– ISS: # 37 (Wojtek Wolski)
Athanasiou might well be one of the fastest skaters in the draft. Played well in the Ivan Hlinka tourney, but he never carried that momentum over in his year with London. According to McKeen’s, Andreas “recorded sensational tests in Next Testing at the Top Prospects Game.” He needs his to work on his all-around game and his consistency, but is worth the Penguins while to take a flyer on him given the high-risk/high-reward potential he has.

53. Florida Panthers – Brady Vail – LW
CS: # 38NA —– McK: # 40
THN: # 58 (Shutdown Forward) —– ISS: # 48 (Jamie McGinn)
The Palm City, FL native brings excellent defensive play, leadership and character to South Florida. Vail is the type of player you want on the ice in close games against your opponents’ top lines. He is still developing offensively as he jumped from 10 points in his OHL rookie season to 52 points last year for the Windsor Spitfires.

54. Colorado Avalanche (8) – Mikko Vainonen – D
CS: # 11E —– McK: # 98
THN: # 69 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 53 (Rob Scuderi)
Vainonen is a solid defensive d-man who has fine size (6-3/210) and leadership abilities (served as Captain of Finland’s U-18 team). While he won’t be confused with Bobby Orr offensively, he does a good job in the offensive zone because of a good shot and smart decisions.

55. San Jose Sharks (9) – Emil Lundberg – LW
CS: # 44E —– McK: # Not Rated
THN: # 52 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 66 (Not Available)
Lundberg is not your usual Swedish forward. He has a power forward’s size (6-3/210) and mentality. He plays well along the boards and in front of the net – and thrives in the physical game. Lundberg played 51 games in the Swedish Elite League as a 19-year-old.

56. St. Louis Blues – Lukas Sutter – C
CS: # 39NA —– McK: # 50
THN: # 63 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 68 (Not Available)
The Blues started the Sutter family’s foray into the NHL when they drafted Lukas’s uncle Brian. Lukas, whose father is Rich, is a typical Sutter because he is at his best in the physical game. He is a strong defensive player who lives to antagonize his opponents. Sutter’s offensive game is a work in progress, but he improved from 19 points in 2010/2011 to 59 points last season with Saskatoon.

57. Vancouver Canucks – Valeri Vasilyev – D
CS: # 16E —– McK: # Not Rated
THN: # 64 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 57 (Darius Kasparaitis)
This might be a bit of a reach, but Vasilyev adds a physical defensive d-man to the Canucks. At 6-1/205, he has good size and uses in a smart way. While he does not have great offensive skills, he is a very good skater and has a good shot when he has time to shoot.

58. Phoenix Coyotes – Mike Winther – C
CS: # 21NA —– McK: # 63
THN: # 35 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 38 (Tyler Kennedy)
Winther is more of a goal scorer than playmaking center who bases his game on his speed and strong skating. As a result, he is a good candidate to contribute on both special teams. Once Winther finds a consistency to his game, his defensive game should improve as well.

59. New York Rangers – Brian Hart – LW
CS: # 54NA —– McK: # 54
THN: # 56 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 64 (Not Available)
The Rangers have done well over the last couple of years drafting American forwards (Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Derek Stepan) so drafting Hart will be a natural for the Blueshirts. At 6-2/216 Hart is a natural athlete who was a soccer star as well. Hart will continue his development in college at Harvard.

60. New Jersey Devils – Scott Kosmachuk – RW
CS: # 24NA —– McK: # 35
THN: # 47 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 46 (Justin Abdelkader)
Kosmachuk is a strong two-way forward whose offensive game improved from his first year in Junior to his second year (21 points to 59 points). While he has average size (6-0/185), Kosmachuk is not afraid to fight if necessary (110 PIM in 67 games). He has fine speed and skating ability which allows him to be hard on the forecheck. Once Scott finds a consistency to his game, he will be a valuable member of the Devils.

61. Dallas Stars (10) – Calle Andersson – D
CS: # 15E —– McK: # 68
THN: # 87 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 47 (Christian Backman)
Andersson is a solid all-around blueliner who moves the puck well and uses his hockey IQ to anticipate the well. At 6-3/210, he does not need to take advantage of his size better. On the plus side, he is a veteran of international competition for Sweden – playing for the U-19 World Junior A Challenge and the U-18 WJC.

Second Round Draft Pick Transactions

1. Minnesota’s 2nd round pick goes to Nashville as a result of the 6/15/12 trade that sent Anders Lindback, Kyle Wilson and a 7th round pick in 2012 to Tampa Bay in exchange for Sebastian Caron, Philadelphia’s 2nd round pick in 2012, a 3rd round pick in 2013 and this pick. The Lightning previously acquired the pick as a result of the 2/16/12 trade that sent Dominic Moore and a 2012 7th round pick to San Jose in exchange for this pick. The Sharks previously acquired this pick as a result of the 6/24/11 trade that sent Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and 2011 1st round pick to Minnesota in exchange for Brent Burns and this pick.
2. Calgary’s 2nd round pick goes to Buffalo as a result of the 6/25/11 trade that sent Chris Butler and Paul Byron to Calgary for Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and this pick.
3. Ottawa’s 2nd round pick goes to Columbus as a result of the 2/22/12 trade that sent Antoine Vermette to Phoenix in exchange for Curtis McIlhinney, a conditional pick in 2013 and this pick. The Coyotes previously acquired this pick as a result of the 12/17/11 trade that sent Kyle Turris to the Senators in exchange for David Rundblad and this pick.
4. Washington’s 2nd round pick goes to Minnesota as the result of a 2/24/12 trade that sent Marek Zidlicky to New Jersey in exchange for Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri, Stephane Veilleux, a conditional 2023 3rd round pick and this pick. The Devils previously acquired this pick as a result of a 2/28/11 trade that sent Jason Arnott to Washington in exchange for Dave Steckel and this pick.
5. San Jose’s 2nd round pick goes to Carolina as a result of the 2/18/11 trade that sent Ian White to San Jose in exchange for this pick.
6. Philadelphia’s 2nd round pick goes to Nashville as a result of the 6/15/12 trade that sent Anders Lindback, Kyle Wilson and a 2012 7th round draft pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for Sebastien Caron, Minnesota 2012 2nd round draft pick, a 2013 3rd round draft pick and this pick. The Lightning previously acquired this pick as a result of the 7/1/10 trade that sent Andrej Meszaros to the Flyers in exchange for this pick.
7. Nashville’s 2nd round pick goes to Montreal as a result of the 2/17/12 trade that sent Hal Gill and a conditional 2013 5th round pick to Nashville in exchange for Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney, and this pick.
8. Boston’s 2nd round pick goes to Colorado as a result of the 6/24/11 trade that sent John-Michael Liles to Toronto in exchange for this pick. NOTE: Pick may be optioned to Washington. The Maple Leafs previously acquired this pick as a result of a trade that sent Tomas Kaberle to the Bruins in exchange for Joe Colborne, a 2011 1st round pick, and this pick to the Bruins (which was conditional at the time of the trade). The condition – Boston reaching the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals – was converted on 5/27/11.
9. San Jose will receive the 25th pick of the second round (55th overall) as Compensation for not signing 2007 1st round pick Patrick White.
10. Los Angeles’ 2nd round pick will go to Dallas as result of the 2/16/12 trade that sent Nicklas Grossman to Philadelphia in exchange for a 2013 draft pick and this pick. The Flyers previously acquired this pick as a result of the 6/23/11 trade that sent Mike Richards to the Kings in exchange for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and this pick.

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As I mentioned in my historical look at the New York Rangers drafting history late in the first round (26th and 28th), there is a strong possibility that the team will look to move the 28th overall pick. The question is will the Rangers use their 1st round pick in a deal for a star forward (Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan) or do the Rangers look to trade down into the second round and secure extra picks?

In that previous story, I mentioned Tampa Bay as a prime target because they had three second round draft picks. However, with GM Steve Yzerman sending two of them to Nashville in the Anders Lindback trade, that removes the Lightning from the calculations. While the odds are slim that the Predators move any of those picks (unless they are making a blockbuster trade involving Ryan Suter or Shea Weber), there are a few trade options for the Rangers.

The following teams all own multiple second round draft picks: Buffalo (42nd and 44th), Carolina (38th and 47th), Colorado (41st and 54th), Columbus 31st and 45th), and Dallas (43rd and 61st).

By moving down, the Rangers could probably get a similar forward and still have an extra pick to look to the future by drafting a goaltender or by taking a gamble on a high-risk/high-reward forward.

For the sake of this portion of the Rangers Draft Preview, we are going to stay with the status quo and leave the Rangers with their 1st round pick. I have come up with a list of six players the Rangers have a shot at drafting with the 28th spot. While some of them are sure to be gone by then, there is a chance that they will be available for the Blueshirts.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), 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. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

NICOLAS KERDILES – LW/C
CS: # 29NA —– McK: # 43
THN: # 32 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 15 (James Neal)

The 6-foot-2 and 200 Kerdiles spent last season with the USNTDP’s Under-18 team and scored 20 goals (7 PPG) and 22 assists in 50 games. The Rangers know his development is in the good hands of Mike Eaves at the University of Wisconsin. He has to work on producing a consistent effort from game-to-game and within games. However, Kerdiles showed flashes of what is to come as he led the USA to gold in the World U-18 tournament.

ISS: “One of the purest goal scorers in the draft…. A quick skater with great puck focus, Kerdiles is a dangerous shooter with pinpoint accuracy…. He can seem to disappear for portions of the game, but consistently jumps back onto the radar with a bang. He has good reactions around the puck and is a threat off the rush, during zone play or in scrambles.”

McK: “Kerdiles already has won two World U-18 Championship gold medals, as he played up last season with the program before winning this year as the first line centre. Kerdiles is a slick skater with explosive foot speed and a paralyzing change of pace. He can sustain strong body and puck control when stickhandling…. His overall character and mental resolve are areas in which he will need improvement, but he does bring an attractive skill-set to the table.”

THN: “He and Stefan Matteau were the best forwards this year,” a scout told THN. “I like the way he attacks, the way he goes to the net and engages.” THN also wrote. “His size and speed intimidate defenders, as do his strength on the puck when he goes into corners or bullies his way to the front of the net for gritty goals.”

STEFAN MATTEAU – LW
CS: # 17 NA —– McK: # 26
THN: # 30 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 31 (Brooks Laich)

Yes, the 6-foot-1 and 210 pound LW is the son of Mr. Double Overtime himself, Stephan Matteau. Stefan played with the USNTDP’s Under-17 squad and scored 15 goals and 17 assists in 46 games. Matteau was all set to represent the USA in the World U-18, but an IIHF ruling that requires players to play the last three years in the country they want to represent – Matteau had only played two years in the USA.

Originally set to play at the University of North Dakota, Matteau shifted gears and will now play in the QMJHL with Blainville-Boisbriand – the team where his father is an assistant coach. Most scouting reports say that his rambunctious style of play is better-suited for Junior hockey, but will playing under his father be a detriment to his development? Only time will tell.

ISS: “Matteau’s energetic and determined style makes him easy to notice. He is capable of putting up good offensive numbers as well…. He is strong on the wall and works hard to protect the puck and get it out of the zone…. He has emerging power forward potential and does a lot of little things right every shift.”

McK: “His strength in the offensive zone, aside from his size and toughness, is his quick snapshot. He wastes little time unleashing his snapshot when he’s in the slot. He also gets his share of garbage goals by driving hard to the net and has the strength to carry a player on his back en route to it.”

THN: One scout said, “He has all the tools to be a quote-un-quote power forward. There are enough tools in his game that when he gets that consistency, he can be very, very effective.” A second scout told THN, “He took a lot of dumb selfish penalties. He’s definitely more a junior-style player than college player. He’d be in the box all game long in college.”

TANNER PEARSON – LW
CS: # 25NA —– McK: # 39
THN: # 36 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 88 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-0 and 200 pound Pearson was passed over in the last two NHL Drafts. After a 42 point rookie season in the OHL, Pearson responded with 37 goals and 53 assists in 60 games with Barrie – taking full advantage of being on the same line with Winnipeg 1st round draft pick Mark Scheifele. Pearson represented Canada in the World Junior Championship scoring one goal and five assists in six games. Pearson finished 3rd in the OHL in scoring and might have won the title if not for his time at the WJC. A broken fibula suffered in the final game of the regular season cost him a chance at any playoff action.

If the Rangers like Pearson enough to draft him the 1st round, it might behoove them to trade down a few picks and secure an extra draft pick or two.

ISS: “Dominant offensive game, slick hands, shot and ability to find open ice are at the pro level. He must work on his foot speed to make the NHL jump, doesn’t possess that elite get up and go with his heavy feet. A late bloomer and an interesting player to project.”

McK: “Pearson is a highly cerebral player from the blue line down. He sees the ice incredibly well and anticipates the play around him. His passing skills are very good, but his shot is his best weapon…. Pearson’s hand-eye coordination is outstanding, as is his innate ability to tip and redirect pucks in front. He is only an average skater.”

THN: A scout said. “He pretty much made you take notice of him. He adapted his game and showed a good defensive side to his game at the world juniors. Now it’s a question of whether you think he has no more room to improve or he’s a late developer.”

HENRIK SAMUELSSON – C/RW
CS: # 75NA —– McK: # 32
THN: # 50 (Third Line Center) —– ISS: # 27 (Mats Sundin)

If you are in the mood to draft the son of a former Ranger, and Stefan Matteau is not your cup of tea, then perhaps the son of Ulf Samuelsson is more your taste. Henrik racked up frequent flyer mileage during the last couple of seasons. Samuelsson played for USNTDP’ Under-17 team that competed in the USHL in 2010-2011. Last season he played for Modo’s junior and senior teams before settling in with Edmonton Oil Kings at the end of the year. In 28 games in the WHL, the 6-foot-2 and 200 pound forward scored seven goals and 18 assists in 28 games.

Henrik’s brother, Philip (a defenseman), was drafted in the 2nd round in 2009 by Pittsburgh.

ISS: “While not a high end offensive talent. He has very good hands, a great shot, and drives to the net well. He is just learning to use his size to his advantage now and can be most dangerous when crashing the net. He loves to plat physical and can really have opponents looking over their shoulders worried about what he might do on the forecheck.”

McK: “He’s extremely effective when he’s positioned below the dots due to a set of soft hands and touch with the puck, especially when making plays to the backhand…. A Hard competitor with a nasty edge, Samuelsson, like his father, plays with a nasty streak which borderlines on dirty play and results in many undisciplined penalties. Samuelsson is not a quick skater … but musters good speed levels once in motion.”

THN: One scout said. “His hockey IQ is awesome, but he really labors around the ice. He’s smart and he’s putting up decent numbers, but I expected a little bit more. He’s really an intelligent player, but if his name were different, you’d have a little more trouble finding him.

DALTON THROWER – D
CS: # 26NA —– McK: # 38
THN: # 29 (Two-Way Defenseman) —– ISS: # 28 (Kevin Bieksa)

Thrower’s 5-foot-11 and 190 pound frame does not tell the whole story on his style of play. Thrower is a tough player who loves to dish out big hits and is more than willing to fight if necessary. This was seen in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game when he fought Thomas Wilson (see below) to a draw after the forward roughed up his Junior teammate Lukas Sutter.

The youngster is more than just a rough and tumble player – he has an offensive upside as well. In 66 games with Saskatoon, Thrower scored 18 goals and 36 assists to go along with 103 PIM (including nine fighting majors). Thrower figures to be in the midst of the Memorial Cup hunt because Saskatoon is hosting in 2013. Given the Rangers depth among left-handed shooting defenseman, Thrower is a perfect addition as a right-handed shot,

ISS: “Thrower is a true competitor who loves the thrill of the fight. He adapts well to a variety of roles and has a motor that just doesn’t seem to run out of juice. Saskatoon at one point had so many injuries that Thrower was literally playing over half the game and still matching up against top lines from opponents.”

McK: “Physical to the point of recklessness when jumping into hits, Thrower looks to hurt when making contact. That same attitude comes into play offensively where he’s a gifted puck-handler who charges up the ice with abandon. He’s aided by a smooth set of hands that contributes in both his scoring ability and playmaking from the back end.”

THN: One scout said, “He’s one of those players who can do it all. Finishes his checks, runs the power play and he’s not afraid to defend himself. His decision-making is getting better. He’s also getting back quickly when he jumps into the rush.”

THOMAS WILSON – RW
CS: # 15NA —– McK: # 19
THN: # 25 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 17 (Ryan Clowe)

Wilson’s development has been slowed by a series of injuries suffered during the past couple of years. In 2010/2011, he was limited to 28 games with Plymouth because a severed tendon in his wrist. Last year, he played in just 49 games (nine goals, 18 assists, 141 PIM) because a sprained MCL and a broken knuckle he suffered in the fight with Dalton Thrower.

The Rangers will be familiar with the 6-foot-4 and 205 pound Wilson because he often played on a line with 2011 1st round picks J.T. Miller. Some might draw comparisons to Hugh Jessiman, but Wilson has played at a higher level and would be taken with the 28th pick, not the 12th pick.

ISS: “One word to cap off his game is feistiness. You can see so many aspects of his game when watching the likes of Milan Lucic and Todd Bertuzzi. Prototypical power forward: tenacious, tough, nasty when needed. A player who plays heavy on the puck. Hits to hurt and plays a rugged style of play.”

McK: “Wilson is an intriguing prospect because he plays like a true power-forward and he hits to hurt. His hits can easily change the complexion of the game. He is an intimidating presence when he steps onto the ice and doesn’t hesitate to fight…. His potential, coupled with his unique brand of physical play may see him jump a few spots earlier than expected. He simply offers a dynamic that not many prospects offer.

THN: One scout said, “He’s an interesting player. All of the attributes of an NHL power forward. He skates well, is strong below the goal line and his hands and ability to make plays are underrated.”

In making my final decision on which way the Rangers should go with their 1st round pick, I have to factor in that the only two players who were still around in my 1st Round Mock Draft were Tanner Pearson and Dalton Thrower. Based on that, my decision would be to draft Thrower with the 28th overall pick.

If all things were equal, and all six of the players were available, then I would list Kerdiles first on my wish list because of his combination of speed, size and scoring ability. The fact that he will be under the tutelage of Mike Eaves at Wisconsin is an added bonus – possibly allowing him to make the early jump to the NHL like Derek Stepan.

Thrower’s combination of physical play and offensive upside make him the second choice of the six players. While the Rangers are deep on defense, Thrower brings a lot to the table and could allow the Rangers to shop around other prospects and turn their depth on defense into a young scoring forward.

The remaining forwards are pretty much a close bunch. It comes down to what type of player you prefer. Wilson probably represents the highest-risk/highest-rewards of the remaining four forwards because of his injuries and slowed development.

Matteau and Samuelsson are both solid players, but I have to wonder if I would be as high on them as I am if they did not have famous fathers who have a link to the Rangers.

Pearson is an intriguing player, but the question is has he reached the upper stage of his development or can he continue to develop and build on his reputation.

Gun to my head, I would rank the remaining four forwards thusly: Wilson, Matteau, Samuelsson, and Pearson.

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Unless the New York Rangers trade their 1st round pick to move down into the second round, the Blueshirts are set to make the 59th overall selection with their second round pick. The team slides down one slot because the San Jose Sharks received a compensatory pick (#55) because they did not sign 2007 1st round draft pick Patrick White.

In my 1st round preview, I mentioned the possibility the Rangers would look to trade down to stockpile extra picks and possibly use one on a goaltender. While the Rangers could still take a goalie with the 59th pick, I just don’t think the value will be there – unless an Oscar Dansk falls that far.

Since I do not see that happening, here is a list of six players who have a chance to be available at #59 for the Rangers.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), 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. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

BRIAN HART – LW
CS: # 54NA —– McK: # 54
THN: # 56 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 64 (Not Available)

TSN’s Craig Button compares the 6-foot-2 and 216 pound Hart to former NHLer Bill Guerin based on his size, physical play and temperament. He scored 29 goals and 27 assists in 27 games for Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Hart is set to attend Harvard to play hockey and pass up on scholarship offers to play soccer.

ISS: “Hart … has all the tools to develop into a good player at the next level. He has legitimate size, a very good touch and hands for a bigger man and he has better than average feet…. Has the potential to really fill out as he matures. One of the most underrated players in the draft. A diamond in the rough for the team that selects him.”

McK: “Power is the name of his game, as he is more of a north-south guy with limited finesse skills, yet is able to bulldoze through the opposition. Once he is in motion, he’s difficult to stop and he understands and uses this to his advantage to actively drive the net. He relies solely on his shot, as it is hard and heavy and can handcuff goalies.”

THN: One scout said, “He’s got size, his skating is pretty good and when he gets a head of steam he’s tough to stop. Heavy shoot, too.” Another scout expressed concern for Hart jumping from high school straight to college. That scout stated, “I like when these high school kids play a year of junior (e.g. USHL) first before college. It’s tough because these guys don’t have the dieticians or other off-ice advantages of a major junior player.”

JARROD MAIDENS – C/LW
CS: # 35NA —– McK: # 47
THN: # 38 (Power Forward) —– ISS: # 58 (Mike Richards)

TSN’s Craig Button believes Maidens would have been a 1st round pick if not for the injury that limited him to just 28 games (12-11-28) with Owen Sound. While injuries do heal, concerns over concussion linger on and that is why Maidens is not mentioned in 1st round discussions. As a rookie in 2010/2011, Maidens scored the overtime goal in Game 7 that clinched Owen Sound’s first OHL championship. The 6-foot and 180 pound Maidens won a Gold medal in the Ivan Hlinka Under-17 Tournament during that same season.

ISS: “The kind of player every coach wants on his team. Extremely driven, effective in all zones while being most dangerous from the hashmarks in. Center with a powerful stride, excellent speed once he’s moving, and a strong heavy shot…. Competes from start to finish. Communicates to his teammates and is a natural leader.”

McK: “He’s a highly athletic player who’s an excellent skater, enabled by his up-right posture and stride which allow for powerful thrusts that help enter each zone effectively. He is always in and around the puck dues to his skating and size. His offensive zone hockey sense comes into question at times due to his decision-making with the puck….”

THN: One scout said, “He has definite upside, but I don’t think he’ll be a high-end guy. Looks like a third-liner. Good skater, but needs to increase his offense.” Another scout was more positive in his praise. “He’s big body with skill,” the scout offered. “Good puck skills, hands and creativity. For a 16-year-old to come through [in Game 7], even the fact he was on the ice at the time is a credit to Maidens and showed that coach Mark Reeds trusted him.”

CRISTOVAL “BOO” NIEVES – C
CS: # 27NA —– McK: # 48
THN: # 55 (Offensive Forward) —– ISS: # 63 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-3 and 184 pounds Nieves is a pass-first, shoot-second center. In 28 games with Kent (CT) prep school, he scored seven goals and 32 assists. Following Kent’s season, Nieves joined Indians of the USHL and played 13 games (2-8-10). Boo has committed to attend the University of Michigan where he will be coached by the legendary Red Berenson. Button calls him “a tremendous player with excellent upside, and that is a big variable, but one that can pay off.”

ISS: “Nieves rocked off the charts after showing off his stuff with USA at the Ivan Hlinka. A very raw prospect that has much upside. Nieves is a smooth skater with explosive quickness. He has good size but is very thin and has a ton of room to build on his frame.”

McK: “Nieves’s game is predicated on speed because of his first-step quickness, effortless stride and ability to change directions, which are among the best in the draft…. Nieves struggled this season offensively, raising concerns about his game and in particular, his finish…. Nieves is more of a playmaker-passer since he sees the ice well and gains considerable real estate with his speed.”

THN: A scout said, “He’s got tremendous tools. When you go to see him, he jumps out at you. He gets up to speed really fast ad he’s a quick strider. Creates turnovers and reads the play.”

DAMON SEVERSON – D
CS: # 48NA —– McK: # 53
THN: # 65 (Not Listed) —– ISS: # 50 (Tim Gleason)

The 6-foot-2 and 200 pound Severson is a solid two-way defender who played in 56 games for Kelowna and scored seven goals and 37 assists – doubling his point total from 2010/2011. While he doesn’t have the same top-end ability as fellow Kelowna blueliners Tyler Myers and Luke Schenn, Severson is a top six d-man who can see time in all situations. Severson is a right defenseman.

ISS: “Never the flashiest player on the ice, Severson is reliable and composed in all three zones and can jump out at times on either side of the puck with a big play. He has a huge shot that can find the net well and he seems to understand when to use it and when to fake it to create passing lanes…. Severson doesn’t shy away from any situation the game throws at him and is not afraid to drop the gloves if the situation calls s for it.

McK: “He plays more of a two-way game, as his puck skills are better than average. He can just as easily carry the puck into the zone or make a decent first pass. Used on the power play due to his shot, it’s hard and finds a way to get through in traffic…. His defensive game needs work…. He is a player that has raw ability, but will need to groomed slowly.”

THN: THN’s brief blurb on Severson says, “Scouts love his frame, mobility and surly attitude on the ice.”

LUKAS SUTTER – C
CS: # 39NA —– McK: # 50
THN: # 63 (Not Listed) —– ISS: # 68 (Not Available)

The 6-foot and 207 Sutter is the son of former NHLer Rich Sutter so is it should come as no surprise that Button says, “Lukas finds some way, somehow, to inject himself into the game. He can do it defensively, offensively or by ‘getting under the skin’ of opponents and disrupting them. Sutter showed a big improvement from his first season in Saskatoon in 2010/2011 (71-4-15-19-175) and last season (70-28-31-59-169).

ISS: “An ultra intense and hard working player with tremendous character, Sutter is an ultimate competitor who will step up his game on either side of the puck to win. Offensively he is best suited when driving lanes and crashing the crease. Defensively he can shut down, antagonize and rough up opponents extremely well.”

McK: “His breakout season can be attributed to several factors, including graduations and the significant improvements he made in several aspects of his game from skating, to strength and conditioning, to his shot and his faceoff skills, Sutter is the ultimate pest, who is renowned for his sandpaper style of play…. Playing his style of game often means you have to fight and Sutter engaged in nine fighting majors, showing he wasn’t afraid of backing down from challenges…. His style of play would be a welcome addition to NHL teams, but he doesn’t project to become a top-six forward, yet he fits the mould of a hard-nosed, physical bottom-six player.

THN: THN’s brief blurb on Sutter says, “Rich’s kid brings a lot of fight and plays against top lines.”

DANIL ZHARKOV – LW
CS: # 32NA —– McK: # 52
THN: # 49 (Skilled Forward) —– ISS: # 33 (Tomas Vanek)

While last season was Zharkov’s first in the OHL, he played 38 games with Tri-City in the USHL in 2010/2011. Last year in Belleville, a broken collarbone caused him to miss the start of the season. He finished with 23 goals and 13 assists in 50 games – flashing some of his offensive prowess. The 6-foot-3 and 200 pound Zharkov does have issues with finding the ability to play well on a consistent basis.

ISS: “Zharkov is a forward that has all the tools to develop into a very good player at the next level. He has legitimate size, a very good touch and hands for a bigger man and has better than average feet. He has improved each year and has not taken the easy route.” ISS sees him as a “power forward with a heavy shot, offensive mind who can go on scoring droughts.”

McK: “It is quite conceivable that Zharkov played out of position this season, as he looked uncomfortable on the left side and he would constantly sway to the right to make plays. Blessed with good size and a quick shot, Zharkov was effective on the half boards on the power-play, demonstrating his good passing skills and a long reach to settle down pucks as he displays a better game with time and space.”

THN: One scout said, “He’s a big guy who’s really skilled, but he was very in and out for me. For a big guy, I would like to see him use his size a little bit more. I’d like to see him create a little more room for himself.”

In making the decision for the Rangers 2nd round pick, I am faced with the same problem as in the 1st round – a limited choice when it comes to the Blueshirts’ pick. Of my six candidates, only two were still available in my 2nd Round Mock Draft: Brian Hart and Jarrod Maidens. Of the two, Hart would be choice with the 59th pick because of his offensive potential and I am a bit concerned at Maidens’ concussion history.

Again, if all things were equal and all six players were available, I would roll the dice and select Danil Zharkov with the 2nd round pick. While there are consistency and hockey sense questions, Zharkov’s size and offensive upside and ability seem to be worth the gamble.

Hart and Sutter would be in a close battle for second and third choices. While it would be nice to for the Rangers to get involved in the Sutter Family business, I might make Hart a slight favorite over Sutter because of his offense.

Severson is an interesting option because he plays the right side, but given that Dalton Thrower would probably be my first round pick, I would be reluctant to go with back-to-back defensive picks. As a result, Severson would be my sixth choice.

As for four and five, it is a tough call because Nieves and Maidens each have their pluses and minuses. In the end, I would place Maidens ahead of Nieves based on his leadership abilities and based on the fact that his Junior coach gave him ice time in a seventh and deciding game as a 16-year-old rookie – and that says a lot of his character, ability and hockey sense.

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The New York Rangers 3rd round pick will be the 89th overall selection. Here is a look at six players that I would target. Unlike the first two rounds, there is no 3rd Round Mock Draft so the presumption is that all six players could be available at #89.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), 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. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

NIKITA GUSEV – LW
CS: # 20E —– McK: Honourable Mention.
THN: 62 (Not Available) —– ISS: 49 (Sergei Samsonov)

The 5-foot-9 and 165 pound Gusev enters his third NHL Draft and is ripe to prove 29 NHL teams were wrong for passing over him the previous two drafts. His size and lack of physical play has hurt him, but his offensive numbers are just too good to pass up. In just 34 games with CSKA in Russia’s Junior League, Gusev scored 30 goals and 47 assists – good enough for second in the league. As dazzling as those numbers were, Gusev saved his best production for the playoffs as he scored 33 points – 18 more than the runner-up. Concerns over signability might cause Gusev to slip into the third round – and possibly beyond.

ISS: “Gusev may be small but he is very sturdy on his skates…. He has tremendous speed and quickness which can make him elusive enough, but his ability to control the puck with much bigger opponents all over him is a sight to see. Gusev has super skills, he sees the ice very well and has excellent offensive understanding with and without the puck.”

McK: “Gusev combines tremendous lateral agility with world-class patience and is a dual threat to score thanks to both a natural playmaking touch and a slick accurate release that can find all corners of the net. The 5’9” winger also owns a high-powered one-timer capable of reaching velocities seemingly not possible for such a small player.”

THN: THN’s brief blurb on Gusev says, “Dynamic but diminutive scorer has been placed over twice before.”

ESA LINDELL – D
CS: # 12E —– McK: # 65
THN: # 78 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 128 (Not Available)

Lindell played for Jokerit’s Junior team in Finland last year and posted some big offensive numbers in 48 games: 21 goals and 30 assists – numbers good enough for the 6-foot-3 and 195 pound defenseman to finish in the Top 10 in scoring.

ISS: “Lindell’s appeal comes mostly from his offensive production ability. He’s not a great skater by any means but always seems to make something happen with the puck. He has a great shot, reacts quickly to pressure and loves to jump in from the weak side to the net front area…. With proper development he could be a diamond in the rough.”

McK: “Lindell is the sum of his parts since he does nothing exceptional, but does many little things well. He thrives with the man advantage. As the extra time and space allow him to make better calculated decisions…. Lindell has limited lower-body strength and a hunched-over skating style that impedes his overall speed…. He has good sense of recognizing pressure and reacts accordingly

THN: THN’s brief blurb on Lindell says, “Bib Blueliner has a knack for putting the puck in the net.”

SAM KURKER – RW
CS: # 36NA —– McK: # 69
THN: # Not Rated —– ISS: # 90 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-2 and 208 pound Kurker led St. John’s Prep to the Super 8 semifinals. In 22 games, he scored 32 goals and 28 assists. Kurker has committed to Boston University – despite some NHL teams who wanted him to pass on college hockey to play Junior hockey. McKeen’s believes he will spend a year in the USHL before joining the Terriers in 2013-2014.

ISS: “Kurker is a player who has been consistently getting better. Good sized developing power forward with nice size and some jam [Coach John Tortorella will love that] to his game. As he gets stronger he will be able to execute better off his already very good instincts…. He can still improve his skating, especially his acceleration and overall power, but has potential to provide very good depth and adapt to any rile for a club.”

McK: “Built like a power-forward. He marries his size with a good set of hands and is not afraid to engage. Equally adept at scoring dirty goals as he is skilled ones. Kurker boasts a strong shot from the dots, but will also drive the net and bury in garbage goals. Mot an overly strong skater, he will need to address his explosiveness as he lacks a separation gear; however, due to his expansive frame he does a good job of using his size to protect the puck to make plays.”

MATIA MARCANTUONI – C
CS: # 59NA —– McK: # 92
THN: # 71 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 74 (Not Available)

A Concussion and season-ending shoulder injury caused Marcantuoni to play just 24 games with Kitchener (nine goals and five assists) last season. An ankle injury in 2010-2011limited him to just 42 games (11 goals and 16 assists). The 6-foot and 174 pounder served as captain of Team Ontario that won Gold at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Matia was a member of the Under-18 team that won the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, but only played one shift before fellow 2012 prospect Calle Andersson knocked him out with a hit.

ISS: “His shiftiness, foot speed, power and acceleration combined are all excellent. His battle along the wall and overall work ethic was inconsistent on a game by game basis. Awareness issues defensively also had him struggling in being a reliable component to the Rangers offense.”

McK: “His game is based on speed. As he is a dimensional skater in terms of acceleration, speed, change of direction and balance. Marcantuoni can handle the puck at top speeds; however, his hockey sense comes into question as he makes suspect decisions in the offensive zone…. Not one to bail on a hit, he plays a gutsy game and competes; however, his durability has become an issue.”

THN: THN’s brief blurb on Marcantuoni says, “Speedster and pre-season first rounder hobbled by injuries.”

ANTHONY STOLARZ – G
CS: # 4NA-G —– McK: # 100
THN: # Not Rated —– ISS: # 10-G (Not Available)

The 6-foot-5 and 200 pound Stolarz has taken a rather long and winding road along his hockey travels. The Jersey native began by playing in his home state in 2010-2011 in the EJHL. Last year he hooked up with Corpus Christi of the NAHL posting a 2.69 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Stolarz will continue his development as a member of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

CS: NHL goaltending scout Al Jensen offered this opinion on Stolarz while speaking to Neate Sager of Yahoo, “The kid’s huge, the kid’s huge. And he’s got that drive and determination. He’s aggressive, great athleticism and quickness. He’s got the tools that could someday get him there. He’s already got some of that stuff. Maybe four or five or six years down the road, the kid might be something.”

McK: “Stolarz is a prototypically-sized goaltender with remarkable athleticism and quickness. He was very consistent this year and is a mentally tough player with good awareness and focus. He moves very well in the net and very rarely this season did he surrender soft goals. He’s also strong in traffic as he collapses quickly for a player of his size. He’s light on his feet and a skilled puckhandler outside of his crease.”

ANTON ZLOBIN – RW
CS: # 137 NA —– McK: # Sleeper
THN: # Not Rated —– ISS: # 100 (Not Available)

The 5-foot-11 and 195 pound Zlobin had the last laugh this year after being passed over in the 2011 NHL Draft (59-23-22-45). Zlobin scored the game-winning overtime goal that propelled Shawinigan to the Memorial Cup championship. Zlobin stepped up his offensive production with 40 goals and 36 assists in 66 games during the regular season and added three goals and seven assists in 11 playoff games. Zlobin was just one of six QMJHL players to score 40+ goals.

ISS: “He has a quick stick, displaying a ton of composure and patience when he has possession of the puck. A highly skilled offensive minded forward that possesses a real scorer’s touch. He is at his best and most effective when he has the puck.”

McK: “Blessed with quick hands, he excels at handling the puck at varying rates of speed and is able to release a hard, accurate wrist shot with little warning. Considered more of a shooter, his passing skills are developed, especially on the power play where he is allotted more time and space…. The biggest aspect of his games that has to improve is his willingness to handle the physical game, as he can shy away from one-on-one battles. A lack of consistency cripples his draft stock, but his offensive dimension is appealing.”

As far as who would be my selection, I would not hesitate to draft Anthony Stolarz with the third round pick. He has the size and potential that teams crave when they are looking at drafting young netminders. I have no problem with what Jensen said about him being something in four to six years. The Rangers don’t need a goalie now; rather they need to start grooming someone for down the line.

Sadly, I have a feeling that Stolarz goes before the Rangers make the 89th overall selection. It would not surprise me to see him go in the second round – maybe even to the Rangers – so on the remaining five prospects.

I am torn between Nikita Gusev and Sam Kurker as my second choice. Gusev appears to have that elite offensive ability that NHL teams crave. However, the Rangers depth chart is filled with smaller forwards like Shane McColgan, Michael St. Croix and Christian Thomas. Kurker might not have Gusev’s offensive abilities, but he has the size (and talent) that NHL teams crave.

In the end, it is Kurker’s “jam” that puts him ahead of Gusev as Torts is a jam kind of guy – as opposed to marmalade I guess .

In filling out spots three through five, I am intrigued at what Esa Lindell can bring to the table. I know his offensive numbers are from Finland’s Junior league, but they are impressive nonetheless – and his size doesn’t hurt either – so he is my third choice.

Picking between Matia Marcantuoni and Anton Zlobin is a tough choice for me. All things being equal, Marcantuoni would get the nod. However, there is a question as to whether he has had a bad run of luck in regards to injuries or is he really that injury prone. In the end, Zlobin gets the call ahead of Marcantuoni because of Matia’s injuries and because of Zlobin’s potential on the power play.

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The New York Rangers 4th round pick will be the 119th overall selection. Here is a look at six players that I would target. Unlike the first two rounds, there is no 4th Round Mock Draft so the presumption is that all six players could be available at #119.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), 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. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

TROY DONNAY – D
CS: # 122NA —– McK: # 102
THN: # Not Rated —– ISS: # 92 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-7 and 185 pound Donnay definitely needs to hit the weight room and bulk up before he ever contemplates an NHL career. He might be one of the few players who was thrilled to be traded to a last place team. McKeen’s points out that he barely saw any ice time while with London, but received major amounts of ice time (PP time included) once he was traded to Erie. In 50 OHL games, Donnay scored one goal and added seven assists.

ISS: “What [is] most intriguing with Troy is his size and potential if he can improve his feet and skating ability… [he] has the potential for to grow a lot and develop into a force if he can add to his big frame. He displays toughness down low and surprisingly some good instincts on the offensive blueline. Mobility and skating ability could be a factor but the potential he has with his frame, work ethic and power is intriguing for a long term development.”

McK: “Donnay is a rangy skater who can move surprisingly well for a player of his size. He can shift, pivot and change direction effortlessly and has a long stride that swallows up ice. Donnay is a fixture on the first unit power-play due to his shot and lack of options on the Otters back line…. He’s very raw at this point and is more of a project pick who skates well and has a healthy mean streak.”

DILLON FOURNIER – D
CS: # 136NA —– McK: # 114
THN: # 82 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 132 (Not Available)

At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Fournier might not match Donnay as an imposing figure, but he also needs to fill out some before he takes the next step in his hockey career. Fournier was selected by Rouyn-Noranda as part of the dispersal draft when the QMJHL disbanded the Lewiston franchise. In 52 games last season, Fournier scored nine goals and 29 assists as he nearly tripled his offensive output (14 points) in his rookie season.

ISS: “Fournier is an offensive minded high risk/high reward styled defender who likes to get involved and is very active in the offensive side of the game. He possesses good size with the potential to really fill out and get stronger as he develops…. Still working on game to game consistency and is an unpolished long-term project on defense.”

McK: “A quick skater with good explosiveness, Fournier has a controlled stride that can make sharp turns. He doesn’t break stride when handling the puck and marries his puck skills with above-average hockey sense. Although he started the season being a little passive, he elevated his play as the year progressed and started playing a more aggressive game. Challenging opponents offensively and even physically…. Fournier is raw at this point, but with physical maturity he’s an attractive prospect due to the way he processes the game.

THN: THN’s blurb on Fournier says, “First overall pick in ‘Q’ draft skates well, leans towards defense.”

QUENTIN SHORE – C
CS: # 80 NA —– McK: # 104
THN: # Not Rated —– ISS: # 114 (Not Available)

The 6-foot and 180 pound Shore is the brother of Drew (signed with Florida in March) and Nick (LA Kings 2011 third round pick). All three brothers came through the USNTDP and Quentin is set to join Nick at the University of Denver – their hometown school. In 56 games with the Under-18 team, Quentin scored 16 goals and 8 assists.

ISS: “He has a very well rounded skill set that allows him to fit any mold required of him. His faceoff skills and defensive presence were integral in the USA’s run for the Gold during the U18 tournament. More goal scorer than playmaker, decent hands and quick release. A very effective shot-blocker on the PK unit that is adept at getting in the shooting lanes and limiting rebounds. Still working on game to game consistency and in an unpolished long-term project.”

McK: “His hockey sense and shot are arguably his best assets, as his one-timer explodes off his stick and his keen hockey sense allows him to stay in close proximity of the puck. He has the innate ability to turn his body off the puck to make a defenseman go the other way and then executes subtle one-touch passes that help in the transition. Shore needs to work on his skating since he offers little to no explosive power in his stride. He’s a versatile player who meshes well with any set of Linemates due to his work ethic and ability to process the game.”

ZACH STEPAN – C
CS: # 53NA —– McK: # 86
THN: # 86 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 82 (Not Available)

The 6-foot and 170 pound Stepan in the cousin of Rangers center Derek Stepan. Zack played 42 games with Shattuck-St. Mary’s and scored 18 goals and 38 assists – a slip from his 2010/2011 numbers of 25 goals and 39 assists in 54 games. Stepan is not as talented offensively as his famous cousin, but projects out as a two-way forward. Zach is committed to attend Ohio State University.

ISS: “A very good two-way forward with great speed and understanding, Stepan is very strong on the puck, applies great pressure on the forecheck and has very good instincts as well. He is a playmaker with a good shot that he can get off deceptively quick. He plays much bigger than his size and can throw some impactful hits as well.

McK: “Although he struggled to put the puck in the net, Stepan demonstrated his willingness to be a two-way player that can be relied upon heavily in the defensive zone. He uses his agility and persistent movement in his stride…. He has a strong showing in the Under-18 US Nationals, finishing third in scoring and scored the GWG in the finals to clinch the Championship.”

THN: THN’s brief blurb on Stepan says, “Character player wins faceoffs, plays the body.”

FRANKIE VATRANO – LW
CS: # 88NA —– McK: # Not Rated
THN: # 97 (Not Available) —– ISS: # 101 (Not Available)

The 5-foot-10 and 215 pound Vatrano probably stirs images of a fireplug on ice – as long as it is a fireplug with NHL talent that is in shape. “He has an NHL-level shot,” Danton Cole, his coach with the NTDP for the past two years told Bill Keefe of the New England Hockey Journal. “He can really hum a puck.”

“He works his tail off in the weight room and on the ice. He is one of our strongest players. He is very efficient in his skating. He tracks the puck offensively and defensively as well as anyone here. If there’s a race for the puck, he usually wins it.”

According to CS, Vatrano played 53 games and scored 14 goals and 17 assists with the USA’s Under-18 team. Vatrano is committed to attend Boston College.

ISS: “Vatrano is a skilled, offensive minded winger that possesses the size of a power forward but seems to bring a little more offensive creativity to the table…. He displays real speed and is very strong on his skates. He is extremely tough to knock off stride. Was solid throughout Under-18 World Championship helping USA to Gold. He works his tail off in the weight room and on the ice. He is one of the strongest players in his age group. Already has a pro shot. He shows above average awareness in all three zones of the ice and has some very intriguing potential moving forward.”

THN: THN”s brief blurb on Vatrano says, “Rumbling Boston College commit plays in a straight line.”

JIMMY VESEY – LW
CS: # 77NA —– McK: # Not Rated
THN: # Not Rated —– ISS: # 112 (Not Available)

The 6-foot and 180 pound Vesey is another one of those players who was passed over during the 2011 NHL Draft – and given the year he has last year – bad move by the NHL. After finishing prep school, Vesey moved on to South Shore of the EJHL (same team Minnesota prospect Charlie Coyle played for) and lit up the league to the tune of 48 goals and 43 assists in 45 games. Vesey dad, Jim, played 15 NHL games with St. Louis and Boston.

“My goal scoring is my biggest asset and my offensive awareness around the net,” Vesey told Ryan Kennedy of THN. “The biggest thing is my first few strides from a standstill. It’s something I’m going to improve.”

Vesey will join Brian Hart, my second round selection, at Harvard University. Both players were invited to the U.S. National Junior Team Evaluation Camp.

ISS: “Blessed with tremendous hockey IQ, Vesey will continue to develop playing NCAA hockey at Harvard next season. Well-liked by his teammates and possesses a winning attitude. He doesn’t take crap from anybody. He takes a check to make a play. A Good sized forward with soft hands and decent skating abilities. Has good vision and a nose for the net. Jimmy uses his solid frame and good upper body strength effectively. A long term prospect that should develop well.”

It is an interesting, and varied, group of players under consideration for the fourth round pick. For me, the race comes down to Frankie Vatrano and Jimmy Vesey. I like the potential that both players bring to the table and I think the Rangers would win out either way. However, I like the way Vesey stepped up last season in the EJHL – a league that is beginning to draw more and more attention from scouts and NHL teams. The first choice goes to Vesey with Vatrano being a close second.

Players three through five are a close call for me. The sixth choice is an easy one because while Troy Donnay size and ability are intriguing, but he might be too much of a long-term reach to draft in the fourth round. If the Rangers were able to get make a trade for a later draft pick and he were available in the fifth to seventh rounds, I would not hesitate to draft him.

Of the remaining three players, I think I would have to see how the first three rounds shaped up. If the Rangers did not take a defenseman with their first three picks, then Dillon Fournier would be a nice addition at #119. If the Blueshirts did take a defenseman, then I would look to either Quentin Shore or Zach Stepan as the third choice.

While Shore’s style of play and penalty killing fits the Rangers, I think blood might be thicker than water in this case as Stepan would be my third choice. Actually, the fact that he is Derek’s cousin played no part in that decision. It was Zach’s speed and skating that wins him the nod.

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The New York Rangers enter the 2012 NHL Draft with the 28th pick in the first round. It is the latest the Rangers have ever drafted in the first round and represents the second time in franchise history they will be making the 28th overall selection in a draft.

The year was 1985 and the Blueshirts used their first round draft pick to select Ulf Dahlen with the 7th overall pick. In the second round, GM Craig Patrick used the 28th overall selection to draft a Philadelphia-area native from Abingdon Prep – goaltender Mike Richter.

Nine years later, the Rangers were the Stanley Cup champions – in large part thanks to the heroics of Richter. As the NHL’s champions, they drafted 26th and last in the first round. GM Neil Smith used that selection on goaltender Dan Cloutier.

While Cloutier never measured up to heights of Richter, he wasn’t a bad choice when you factor in the rest of the draft. Jose Theodore (#44) and Patrik Elias (#51) where the other big names taken in the second round with the likes of Fredrik Modin and Chris Drury drafted in the third round, Milan Hejduk in the fourth and Daniel Alfredsson in the sixth.

The Rangers have done a fine job in the last couple of years drafting prospects who have been able to make the next step to the NHL (Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan) with the likes of Tim Erixon, Dylan McIlrath and J.T. Miller poised to make their run at the NHL.

However, the Blueshirts run to the Eastern Conference Finals shows the organization still needs to add more offense. Unfortunately, the Rangers may have some problems solving that need with the 28th pick.

The Rangers could decide that their depth is strong enough to gamble and reach for a player who might not have all-around first round talent at forward. Or, the Rangers could go with the strength of the draft and add more help on the blue line or go with a safe two-way forward.

The third draft possibility could be to follow the paths charted by Patrick and Smith and look to draft a goaltender with their first round pick. It is a Catch-22 situation because Henrik Lundqvist is in his prime and drafting a goaltender in the first round might not be the best allocation of resources.

On the other hand, the Rangers do not want run the risk that the New Jersey Devils are running with Martin Brodeur. The Devils face the prospect of a near-future with no Brodeur and no heir apparent to replace him.

The Rangers run of luck drafting goaltenders in the first round has been spotty at
best – given that Cloutier is the most successful of a trio of netminders.

In 2001, Glen Sather drafted Dan Blackburn with the 10th overall pick. Blackburn
played 63 games before a sever shoulder injury derailed his career.

In 2004, the Rangers made Al Montoya (6th overall) the first of their two first
round draft picks, with Lauri Korpikoski selected #19. Montoya never played for
the Rangers and was eventually dealt to Phoenix before finding hone with the New
York Islanders.

In the THN Draft Preview, Adam Proteau pointed out a telling statistic in reference
to goalies drafted in the first round. During the previous 49 drafts, 60 goalies were
drafted in the first round. Of that number, only 30 have played 200 or more NHL
games or are on pace to do so (Cory Schneider was listed as an example.

In an even more incredible stat, you had a better chance of finding a starting goalie
with a 7th, 8th, 9th round draft pick or even with a non-drafted goalie (10 of them
from the 7h round and beyond) as you did getting a starter with a 1st round pick
(only 8 1st round starters).

Under Sather, the Rangers haven’t had much luck drafting goalies on the 2nd
round either. In 2007, Slats used the 48th overall pick of Antoine Lafleur who
never made it beyond Junior hockey.

The Blueshirts have a mixed bag beyond Sather when it comes to drafting goalies in the 2nd round. In 1965, the Rangers used the 6th overall pick (which was actually a second round pick) on George Surmay who never played in the NHL and spent three seasons in the minors. Of course, that was still during the time when NHL teams relied on their Junior sponsored teams for prospects.

It would be 10 years before the Rangers selected a goalie in the second round when they drafted Doug Soetart with the 30th overall pick. Given that Soapy played a total of 287 NHL games, that wasn’t too bad of a pick. Soetart’s only extended playing time with the Rangers happened during the 1980-81 season when he led the team with 39 regular season games. However, Soetart would be benched in favor of Steve Baker who keyed the team’s 14-game run in the 1981 playoffs.

Interestingly enough, Baker was a 3rd round draft pick in 1977. Baker would be the first of four goalies the Rangers would draft in the third round.

In 1985, the Rangers followed their 2nd round pick of Richter by drafting Sam Lindstahl in the 3rd round. Lindstahl played a total of five years in Sweden.

In 1998, the Blueshirts drafted Jason LaBarbera who is still playing in the NHL serving as a backup for the Phoenix Coyotes.

In 1999, the Rangers returned to Sweden to select Johan Asplund in the 3rd round. Like Lindstahl, Asplund never left Europe but did play 11 seasons – including the 2009-10 season in Denmark.

Kind of makes you glad the Rangers didn’t resist returning to Sweden one more time in 200 when they scooped up Lundqvist in the 7th round. Before anyone thinks the Rangers knew what they were getting all along, remember that Lundqvist wasn’t even the first goalie they drafted in 2000.

Union College’s Brandon Snee was drafted in the 5th round by the Rangers. Unlike Lindstahl and Asplund, Snee did play minor league hockey – appearing in 47 games over two years in the UHL, ECHL and WHA2 where his coach was former Ranger Ron Duguay.

The Rangers best course of action might be to look to trade to the pick. They could use the 28th pick as an enticement in a deal for a potential goal scorer (e.g. Rick Nash) or they could trade down and secure extra picks in the second round.

The Tampa Bay Lightning own three picks in the first 20 selections in the 2nd round (Numbers 37, 40 and 50).

By moving down into the 2nd round, the Rangers could take a gamble on an offensive forward and select a goaltending prospect with draft picks acquired in a trade with the Lightning. The Rangers could also move one of those acquired 2nd round picks to fill in the holes later in the draft.

The Rangers own their first four draft picks, bur are without picks in rounds five through seven so any potential trade could also replace one of these lost picks.

The Blueshirts traded their fifth round pick to Chicago in the ill-fated John Scott deal. Their 6th round pick went to Nashville last year for the Predators 6th round pick which the Rangers used to select defenseman Peter Ceresnak. The Rangers 7th round pick went to Toronto for John Mitchell.

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You just do not go out and replace 40-goal scorers at the drop of hat – even if it is the Broadway. However, Glen Sather and John Tortorella will have to work hard to try and do just that with Marian Gaborik facing surgery in New York on June 6 to repair a torn labrum.

The first word of a Gaborik injury filtered out during the Rangers breakup day on Monday. Gaborik was very coy about answering any questions about an injury or potential surgery. The official word did not come today when Gaborik gave an interview with a Slovakian newspaper.

In the interview, Gaborik said he played the last two months of the season with the injury. While medication and pain injections lessened the pain, he did not have full strength in the shoulder.

While Gaborik mentioned being out five to six months, the New York Rangers official press release did not set a timetable for his return, nor did it specify exactly when the injury occurred.

Even if the Blueshirts go outside the organization and sign the likes of Zach Parise as an UFA or trade for the likes of a Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan, the Rangers are still going to need ANOTHER forward to help revive New York’s inconsistent offense.

While a return to form from Brandon Dubinsky and a full season of Chris Kreider will be big steps forward, the Rangers might still have to look inward to find an offensive spark.

One of those inward possibilities will not be Mats Zuccarello – especially after he took to Twitter to thank Rangers fans for the support. All indications are that Zuccarello has a deal lined up in Russia with the KHL.

The stars could be aligning for a dark horse candidate who just signed his first NHL contract. Undrafted Marek Hrivik might be the biggest beneficiary to Gaborik’s injury.

Like Gaborik, the 6-foot-1 and 195 pound Hrivik is a native of Slovakia. He was eligible for the 2010 NHL Draft and was on the radar for various scouting services. The Hockey News ranked him as their 91st best prospect, International Scouting Services rated him as their #104 prospect, and NHL Central Scouting ranked him as the 194th North American skater.

Here is what ISS wrote about the soon to be 20-year-old LW in their 2010 Draft Guide:

“His outstanding play down the stretch coupled with the fact he kept elevating his game throughout the playoffs has secured his ranking here at ISS for the upcoming 2010 NHL draft. Hrivik has good hands and handles the puck well around the perimeter. He has good size and quick shot. He can make plays in confined areas and under pressure but sometimes handles the puck without much determination. Needs to add that willingness to compete and do anything to score to his resume. Would like to see him play more physical and get to the net.”

After spending 2008/2009 with the Slovakian Under-20 team, Hrivik came to North America and played three years in the QMJHL with Moncton – averaging 31 goals and 37 assists. Hrivik was Moncton’s first round pick in the 2009 CHL Import Draft.

During his Junior years, Hrivik represented Slovakia in the 2009 and 2011 World Junior Championships. In 2010, he helped lead Moncton to a Memorial Cup appearance.

Hrivik received two training camp invitations the last two years: Columbus in 2010 and Phoenix in 2011.

Nick Perri wrote the following description on SNY’s Rangers Blog on April 29, “Hrivik possesses an abundance of skills, including his speed, strength, quick-release, and hockey sense in all zones.”

Hrivik signed an Amateur Tryout Agreement with the Rangers AHL affiliate following the completion of Moncton’s season. Hrivik played eight regular season games for the Connecticut Whale, scoring one goal. His play improved dramatically in the playoffs as he scored five goals and 4 assists in nine playoff games.

“He is a versatile guy who came to Connecticut at the end of the year and earned a contract,” Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton said in the team’s official press release. “He has a good skill level, and a really good head for the game.”

Some fans have wondered how good Hrivik really could be given that he went undrafted. Then again, Rangers undrafted All-Star Dan Girardi showed that scouting and drafting is an inexact science at best.

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