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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