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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