Since trying to prognosticate the first round of the NHL Draft is hard enough, there is no way I can look into my crystal ball and detail who the Rangers should draft in rounds four through seven. Not even Kreskin could project out how the NHL Draft will shape up, so accurately coming up with draft picks for the fourth through seventh rounds would be like trying to her a clowder of cats. Therefore, I am going to list six players of interest that I would not mind seeing the Rangers draft.

ALEXIS BINNER – D – Green Bay (USHL)
CS: # 94 NA
THN: # Not Listed — Best Case:
ISS: # 93 — Style Comparison: Not Available
NHL Potential: Not Available

The 6-3/212 blueliner has committed to attend the University of Maine. Binner is an interesting prospect because his skating is very good considering his size. He is good in his own zone defensively and he is working on improving his offensive game – which could be aided by his strong skating.

Jose Charbonneau (ISS Scout): “Very good sized defenseman with a decent hockey IQ. Engaged physically and finishes his checks, moving the puck at the right places and a good utilization of his stick in the passing lanes to defend. Had good position and awareness in his own defensively.”

Phil Myre (ISS Scout): “He’s a good skater, mobile and good speed. Quickness just average. Good puck skills, good passer and stick handler. He has a good shot. Sees the transition game well and good outlet pass. Average defensive game, could be more assertive and use his size better.”

ZACH GALLANT – C – Peterborough (OHL)
CS: # 64 NA
THN: # 81 — Best Case: Not Available
ISS: # 89 — Style Comparison: Not Available
NHL Potential: Ceiling is 3rd-4th line checking role at NHL level.

The 6-1/184 center scored 21 goals and 26 assists in 65 games. THN calls him a “Fearless faceoff ace [who] goes to the net, plays the right way. Must get faster”. Gallant is a two-way forward who is a hard competitor who makes sure to take care of his defensive responsibilities.

Ben Gallant (ISS Scout): “Good compete and two-way game. Takes hits down low to make plays, cycled well and came back high in the offensive zone. Feet are average, but has quickness to get into the right spot at right time. Shows smarts in all three zones and in the right position.”
Rocco Zappia (ISS Scout): “Physical forward who reads the play well and gets into good position. Not the greatest skater, average top speed, quickness needs improvement. Despite his lack of elite skating ability, he seems to always get to where he needs to be without any issue. First on pucks and finishes his checks.”

GRIFFIN LUCE – D – University of Michigan (Big 10)
CS: # Not Rated
THN: # Not Rated — Best Case: Not Listed
ISS: # Not Rated — Style Comparison: Not Available
NHL Potential: From his 2016 Report – Shutdown defender.

Luce has a deep family connection to the NHL. His father, Scott, is the Florida Panthers Director of Personnel and his grandfather, Don, was a 1966 third round pick (14th overall) of the Rangers and played 894 games with five NHL teams. His grandfather played one season in Detroit with Griffin’s coach at Michigan – Red Berenson.

In 2016, THN rated him #53 while ISS rated him #89.

The 6-3/214 is a physical defensive defenseman who uses his size well. He went undrafted last year because his skating needs work and he has problems with players with speed. I know what you are thinking – not another Dylan McIlrath.

The difference is McIlrath’s career was hurt by a knee injury and the fact that the Rangers could have (and should have) drafted Vladimir Tarasenko (as I wrote way back when) or Cam Fowler. To gamble on a character player like Luce late in the draft is not that much of a reach or risk.

Dennis MacInnis (ISS Director of Scouting wrote in 2016): “Had limited ice time, but was effective. Kept things simple and safe. Knows his limitations and doesn’t try to do too much. Type [of] player coaches love to have on their team because of his high compete level and solid defensive play. Projects as 5th/6th shutdown defenseman with further development.”

Phil Myre (ISS Scout wrote in 2016): “Very good size and strength, physical defenseman. Keeps his game simple. Short passes, safe plays. Average skater, he needs to improve his quickness, but can generate speed for his size. Can deliver big hits. Defensive defenseman with NHL upside.”

OTTO MAKINEN – C – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
CS: # 211 NA
THN: # Not Listed — Best Case: Not Available
ISS: 2016 Rating – # 87 — Style Comparison: Not Available NHL Potential: From his 2016 Report – Impact bottom six winger who can play crucial minutes.

Makinen, 6-1/178 was a 2016 draft eligible prospect who went undrafted. THN rated him as their #59 prospect in 2016. Played for Finland in the 2015/2016 U-18 but was overshadowed by 2016 draftees Jesse Puljarjavi and Markus Niemelainen and 2017 prospects Eeli Tolvanen and Kristian Vesalainen.

He is a two-forward who is a playmaker first as he looks to pass before taking his own shot. According to the Elite Hockey Prospects, it appears that Makinen’s OHL term was one and done as the web site lists Makinen returning to Finland to play for Tappara. In 68 OHL games, Makinen scored 7 goals and 23 assists.

In 2016 one scout told THN, “He’s your prototypical two-way guy. Really good hockey IQ and works as hard as anyone in the [2016] draft. So involved, always makes the right play.”

Dennis MacInnis (wrote in 2016): “Good sized forward who competes and plays a 200-foot game. He has a lot of assets but didn’t have much impact in these U-18 championships. Has yet to show that he can play at a high level consistently.”

Olli Lahdesmaki (ISS Scout wrote in 2016): “Smart all-around center lacking ultimate assets …. Makes good decisions with the puck while lacks effectiveness and edge for creating space for himself.”

KIRILL MAKSIMOV – RW – Niagara (OHL)
CS: # 66 NA
THN: # Not Listed — Best Case: Not Available
ISS: # 99 — Style Comparison:
NHL Potential: Second-line skilled forward with further development.

Started the year with Saginaw (6 goals in 37 games) in the OHL before a mid0season trade to Niagara (15 goals in 29 games). He added 4 goals in 4 playoff games for the IceDogs and 3 goals in 7 games for Russia in the U-18.

While he has good size (6-2/192) he shies away from physical play at this time and needs to develop a sense of how to play defense. On the plus side, he has a nose for the goal and is adept at controlling and protecting the puck.

Dennis MacInnis: “Good sized winger. Above average skater, takes a couple of steps to get up to speed. Puck skills are fine with a decent shot. Showed flashes of ability then went shifts without touches. Needs to make better use of size and improve his level of compete.”

Phil Myre: “This player is showing a lot of improvement and getting more ice time. He plays on the PP and kills penalties. A good sized player, he has very good skills. Excellent hands, passing and shooting. He can make plays and score. Needs to improve his play in the boards in the defensive zone. Needs to be more reliable with the puck, some turnovers. Smart player with a continued slow growth. Big upside.”

PHILIP KEMP – D – USA U-18 (NTDP)
CS: # 175 NA
THN: # Not Listed — Best Case: Not Available
ISS: # 100 — Style Comparison: Not Available
NHL Potential: Bottom six stay at home type who provides a physical presence.

The 6-3/202 Kemp is committed to Yale University and was a member of the USA U-18 gold medal team. He is a strong physical defensive defenseman who is a right-handed shot so he will draw interest from NHL teams. While he will never be Brian Leetch with the puck, he does have a good shot. He needs to work on improving his quickness and mobility in terms of skating.

Phil Myre: “Very good size defenseman. He was very active both offensively and defensively with the puck. Was a presence physically. He has below average puck skills, but can make good outlet and transitional plays and [has] a decent shot. A good penalty killer, he is willing to block shots. Plays the defensive zone well, engages in front of the net and battles in the corners.”

Tim Zeches (ISS Scout): “He has a long reach and active stick one-on-one, but also uses his size/strength to keep attackers from cutting to center lanes. Good positioning, reads/anticipates well, and can create turnovers. Competes hard, sacrifices to block shots and can play with an edge at times. Doesn’t show much offensive skill.”

As you might have noticed, the three defensemen that I listed all share similar traits in that they are more defensive d-men first and play with a certain snarl. This was intentional on my part because the Rangers have plenty of blueliners in the system that can move the puck – a trait that Coach Alain Vigneault favors in his defensemen. However, even the “great” AV won’t always be the Rangers coach so it makes sense to have defensemen in the system that play a more physical style.

Among the forwards, I selected two centers that would make good fourth line centers. Some might see it as wasting draft picks going after fourth line players, but in a salary cap world it makes little sense to spend a lot of money on fourth line players when you can develop them on your own.

Maksimov’s addition is an attempt to also address the need for goal scorers and to enhance to depth of the Rangers organization when it comes to skilled forwards.

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