For the seventh time since the implementation of the “modern” draft in 1969, and for the second time in back-to-back years, the New York Rangers will be without a first round pick. It marks the fourth time that President/GM Glen Sather will be without a first round pick; however, the first time (2000) was a result of Neil Smith’s draft day deals in 1999 so the Blueshirts could move up to fourth to select Pavel Brendl.

Prior to last year when the Rangers waited until the third round (pick #65) to join the draft – selecting Adam Tambellini, the latest the Blueshirts had to wait before selecting their first player was 2000 when Sather drafted defenseman Filip Novak (64th overall).

To Sather’s credit, the Rangers brought in some potential offensive talent in the third round in the form of Tambellini, Pavel Buchnevich and Anthony Duclair.

Novak and the Blueshirts 2002 first round pick headed south to the Panthers as the Rangers acquired Pavel Bure. Lee Falardeau (33rd overall) was the Rangers first selection that year.

Only the Rangers would be forced to give up two first round draft picks as a result of “trading” for coaches. In 1978, the Rangers gave up their first round selection as compensation for bringing in Fred Shero as the GM/Coach. The Flyers used that pick to draft Ken Linesman. The Rangers first pick in 1978 – Don Maloney with the 26th overall pick.

Phil Esposito saw how well that move went and decided to give up his 1988 1st round draft pick in exchange for naming Michel Bergeron as coach. While Quebec wasted the fifth overall pick on Daniel Dore, Blueshirts faithful can only dream of might have happened had Espo kept the pick as the likes of Jeremy Roenick, Rod Brind’Amour and Teemu Selanne were drafted eighth through tenth overall.

Instead, the Rangers first pick in 1988 was Troy Mallette. The rugged winger’s place in Rangers history is solidified as the compensation for the Rangers signing Adam Graves as a free agent. To Espo’s credit, he did select fellow paesan Tony Amonte in the fourth round (68th overall)

About the only time trading away a first round draft pick paid off for the Rangers was in 1995 when Smith sent the team’s first round pick (later to be #15) to Hartford for Pat Verbeek. The “little Ball of Hate” played just 88 regular season games before leaving to sign with Dallas, but did register 97 points – including 41 goals and 41 assists (in 69 games) in 1995-96. In 21 playoff games, Verbeek added seven goals and 12 assists.

While the Rangers first round draft pick (28th overall thanks to their Stanley Cup run) resides in Tampa Bay, the Rangers do own their own second (#59), third (#89), fourth (#119), and have Florida’s pick in the fifth round (#122) as a result of the Casey Wellman trade.

All of this can change given the news out of Florida that Ryan Callahan has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. One condition of the deal was that if Cally stayed with Tampa Bay, the Rangers would receive the Lightning’s 2015 2nd round draft pick. It is possible that Sather dangles that future pick as he attempts to navigate his way up (and down) the 2014 draft. The Blueshirts will be sending their 2015 7th round pick to Tampa Bay to finalize the deal.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), The Hockey News (THN), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters (NAS), European skaters (ES), North American goaltenders (NAG) and European goaltenders (EG). THN lists each prospect’s NHL Translation while ranking skaters and goaltenders together. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player and has separate rankings for skaters and goaltenders.

The Draft positions utilized are those as of June 26, 2014.

In looking at the Rangers second and third round draft picks, I have identified four players as potential second round draft selections and three players as third round draft picks.

SECOND ROUND (#59)

I had to do some heavy editing when I was putting together my second round projections for the Rangers. Two of the players who made my original list ended up being selected in the second round prior to the Blueshirts pick at #59.

Ryan Collins is a 6-5/202 defenseman who draws extra interest because he is a right-handed shot. He would have been the physical, take-no-prisoners kind of blueliner the Rangers have longed for since Jeff Beukeboom retired. However, I have the University of Minnesota commitment being drafted 49th overall by Buffalo.

Nikita Goldobin is a Russian-born RW who has spent the last two years playing in the OHL. Last year, with a really poor Sarnia team, Goldobin scored 38 goals and 56 assists in 67 games. Alas, I have him being scooped up by the San Jose Sharks with the 51st overall pick.

VACLAV KARABACEK – RW
CS: # 41 NAS —– THN: # 95 (Not available)
ISS: # 57 (Lauri Korpikoski)
ISS NHL Potential: “Potential top-six forward, but needs significant development.”

The 5-11/196 RW is yet another in a long line of Russian players who have left home to play Junior hockey in an attempt to adapt to the North American style of hockey. While it was a slow adjustment, Karabacek got better as the season progressed with Gatineau (QMJHL). In 65 regular season games, he scored 21 goals and 26 assists. Come playoff time, Karabacek elevated his game to the tune of six goals and six assists in nine games.

That development came as a result of what ISS calls “[his] willingness to compete for loose pucks and his battle level which was non-existent in the first part of the year.”

ISS continued, “… there is still work he needs to do to improve his 200-foot game and physical play. Consistency needs attention, a little more urgency to his game.”

Chris Mooring, the head Maritimes scout for ISS, wrote: “Has the offensive skill set to play at the next level and has shown improvement with every viewing.”

Dennis MacInnis, ISS Director of Scouting, wrote: “Finesse style game, he is a good skater with an above average offensive skill set and hockey sense. However, his competitiveness level scares me long term.”

HUNTER SMITH – RW
CS: # 39NAS —– THN: # 49 (Power forward)
ISS: # 39 (Shawn Thornton)
ISS NHL Potential: “6-9 forward who can play [on the] Power Play.”

Much was made of the Los Angeles Kings’ size advantage during the 2014 Stanley Cup. The 6-6/210 Smith would go a long way in helping to narrow any size disadvantage the Rangers might have. After posting a goal and an assist in first 45 games in the OHL (spread over two years), Smith scored 16 goals and 24 assists in 64 games and chipped in 100 PIMs. His development really came to fruition in the playoffs when he scored three goals and eight assists in 12 games.

Smith went undrafted last year and according to one scout it was not a case of teams missing the boat. “I don’t think teams missed on this guy,” a scout told THN. “He’s a guy who was just a really late developer. It’s still projection-based, but he had a real breakout year.”

ISS says that Smith is a “big developing power forward with good size and jam to his game.” Well, you know that John Tortorella would love him .

ISS continued: “Drives to the net hard and is a threat to score points in the danger areas due to his combination of size and strength.” Well, now you know why I love him .

ISS did caution that Smith needs to work on his skating and improving his coverage in the defensive zone.

M. Cuddahee, an ISS Scout, wrote: “Can be the steal of this draft if he continues developing his skating and hands at his current pace. A monster among men standing 6-6 with actual offensive talent. Plays with a mean streak and utilizes his size defensively.

MacInnis wrote: “An unpolished product whose offensive skills are still developing. Can create room for himself and his linemates on the ice with his size and physical play or beat the crap out of you in a fight.”

LUC SNUGGERUD – D
CS: # 42 NAS —– THN: # 63 (Not available)
ISS: # 56 (Matt Niskanen)
ISS NHL Potential: “4-6 pairing defender with PP potential with further development”

If the Snuggerud name sounds familiar it should. Luc’s uncle, Dave, played 265 NHL games (Buffalo, San Jose and Philadelphia) after being the Sabres 1987 NHL Supplemental Draft pick.

Snuggerud played for Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota last season and was named the winner of the 2014 reed Larson Award as the best senior high school defenseman in Minnesota. In addition, he played seven USHL games with Muskegon and Omaha. He is committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

The 6-0/180 Snuggerud is a defenseman whose game is built on his superb skating ability. Not only is he a fast skater, but his puckhandling abilities are able to keep up with his skating.

ISS calls him, “An emerging offensive talent that plays an aggressive attacking style. He can be effective defensively, controlling his gaps quickly and reasonably.”

He is still a work-in-progress in terms of elevating his defensive abilities and he will need to add some bulk and get stronger. With that said, he could be the PP leader the Rangers need/want.

Paul Dionne, ISS Regional Scout, wrote: “Loves to lead the attack and does so with success. Snuggerud is an intelligent two-way defender and is a well-known respected leader on and off the ice.”

Interestingly enough, the Rangers drafted a Paul Dionne in the 13th round of the 1975 NHL Draft, but they are not the same person.

MacInnis wrote: “Explosive skater, with a smooth, fluid stride and strong acceleration. Notable poise with the puck and impressive passing skill. Makes a good first-pass to jump start his offense.”

NIKITA TRYAMKIN – D
CS: # 65 ES —– THN: Not Rated in the Top 100 (Not available)
ISS: # 66 (Not available)
ISS NHL Potential: “Top four shutdown defenceman and PK unit.”

The hulking 6-7/228 defenseman is hoping that the third time is a charm after being passed over the last two years. Although he will not be until August, he has spent the last year and a half playing in the KHL and represented Russia at last year’s WJC.

As you might imagine, his skating and footwork need work and he really doesn’t have much of an offensive game, but, as you also might have imagined, his game is built on defense – using his wingspan to frustrate opponents.

ISS calls him “an intense blueliner that plays with an edge and relishes the physical game…. A big-bodied presence that is a tremendous asset on the penalty kill. Uses his long legs to block point shots effectively and protects the front of the net.”

Steve Cocker, ISS Regional European Scout, wrote: “Wouldn’t be surprised to see a team jump early on this kid … some impressive attributes along with a 6-7 frame.”

MacInnis wrote: “Extremely raw prospect – needs to grow into his frame. Natural mean spirited and no fun to play against. Requires plenty of additional seasoning – can be prone to lapses in the defensive zone due to his lack of polish at times.

My order of preference is Smith, Snuggerud, Karabacek and then Tryamkin.

Smith is the exact kind of forward the Rangers desperately could have used against the Kings. Not only would he have helped combat the size difference, he could made a huge offensive difference – especially in the three overtime games in Los Angeles where a power play goal here or a dirty goal there meant the difference between a win and a loss.

Snuggerud is the second choice for a similar reason as to why I had Smith first. A player like him on the power play would have been so valuable on the man advantage.

Karabacek is a good player, but is a finesse type of forward and my preference would be for a more physical player. With that said, I could be very happy with him in a Blueshirt uniform.

Tryamkin is interesting because every team is looking to uncover the next Zdeno Chara – which is why I had rated as high as I do. The main downside to him is that the wait for his game to develop might be longer than I am willing to wait. This would be a case where I would have to rely on the opinions of my scouts in terms of how long it would take for him to develop.

THIRD ROUND (#89)

CONNOR CHATHAM – RW
CS: # 46 NAS —- THN: # Not Rated in the Top 100 (Not available)
ISS: # 54 (Taylor Pyatt)
ISS NHL Potential: “3rd line two-way power forward – [penalty killer]”

The 6-2/222 winger played for Plymouth (OHL) last season and scored 13 goals and 18 assists in 54 games. He added three goals in five playoff games.

ISS says that “Chatham’s pro future will be to provide a solid up and down game on the wing. He does not possess top level offensive skills, but has the potential to score dirty goals at the next level as well as help out on the penalty kill.”

Mike MacPherson, ISS Regional Ontario Scout, wrote: “Having watched all five games of the Plymouth-Guelph series, he was probably the one guy who I thought really improved and stood out for me. He is big, strong, moves well, he competes very hard, see him with huge upside, especially when he fills out his size”

Phil Myre, ISS Head U.S. Scout, wrote: “Size, strength, smarts. Hard working player who wins battles. Has good speed and good puck skills. Low risk player. Down side would be a 3rd line player.”

JAYCE HAWRYLUK – C/RW
CS: # 37 NAS —- THN: # 80 (Not available)
ISS: # 94 (Not available)
ISS NHL Potential: “He fits in well in a variety of roles and could play on any line at any time, including special teams”

Hawryluk played 59 games with Brandon (WHL) and scored 64 points (24-40) an improvement from 43 (18-25) in his first season in Junior hockey.

While he is only 5-10/186, Hawryluk plays a much bigger game and is not afraid to play a physical game.

ISS calls him “a fearless and highly motivated player in all situations on the ice. Hawryluk is an intelligent player who can find great areas behind coverage away from the puck and has a very good release on his shot and that makes him a deadly scoring threat….He can kill penalties and provide that x-factor that teams covet.

Ross MacLean, ISS Head Western Scout, wrote: “He’s the type of player that you absolutely hate to play against. He’s fast, he’s aggressive, he doesn’t quit and he can score.”

Brent Parker, ISS Western Regional Scout, wrote: “Finished checks, has incurred three suspensions. Plays bigger than he is, will go into dirty areas to score. Quick release, good offensive instincts.”

NICK MAGYAR – RW
CS: # 32 NAS —- THN: # 70 (Not Available)
ISS: # 70 (Not available)
ISS NHL Potential: “Second-third line goal-scorer”

The 6-1/194 RW played his first season of Junior hockey last year. In 66 games with Kitchener (OHL), he scored 20 goals and 26 assists.

Magyar is a raw player who is still developing, but has a goal scorer’s potential moving forward – as opposed to being a playmaker.

ISS says Magyar is a “developing power forward with a rare combination of size and skill. Likes to drive to the net to create offensive chances. Adept at scoring from the slot or the garbage areas with consistency.”

If you have been paying attention, you notice there is a common theme among most of the forwards that I am looking at. They are all bigger players (or smaller ones who play big) who are able to score from those places where most current Rangers forwards don’t go – in the slot and in the high-traffic areas of the ice.

MacPherson wrote: “First and foremost, his compete level stood out for me. Hard working in all three zones especially on the forecheck and tracking back through the neutral [zone]. Good job of protecting the puck down low and using his line mates to create offensive opportunity.

Ron MacLean ISS Regional Ontario Scout, wrote: “He competes hard as a third line player. There is nothing flashy about him, gets to open areas well with his line unit. He is an average skater and will have to improve to play Pro.”

My order of preference is tough to determine because Chatham and Magyar are similar type players (power forward types) while Hawryluk is more of a Ryan Callahan type.

Originally, Magyar was among the first players I looked at as I was putting my list together – so much so that I almost included him in my second round preview. It would that he would be my first preference in the third round. As it turns out, Magyar is my second preference.

My first preference is Hawryluk. The more I look at his scouting reports, the more he sounded like a Callahan clone. While the scab is still raw over his contentious contract negotiations, no one could ever say that they would not want a Callahan-type of player on their team – and that is why Jayce gets the nod.

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