Thu 25 Jun 2015
Trying to map together a draft strategy for the New York Rangers in the Fourth Round (#119), Sixth Round (#179), and Seventh Round (#209) is a lot like trying to find that proverbial needle in the proverbial haystack. However, that hasn’t stopped me before and it isn’t going to stop me now.
The game plan has to be to try and get the biggest bang out of the buck as possible. It does not matter if it seems that the team is over-stockpiling talent at one position – that is what trades are for. It is also why I have a goaltender on my list in the sixth round – although he could be gone by the time the Rangers draft.
Once again I list three players in my preferred order of selection in each round.
VEETI VAINIO – D
CS: # 25 ES —– THN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
ISS: # 89 (Not Available) —– TSN: #: Not Rated (Not Available)
Skating and the ability to join the rush are the calling cards of the 6-2/169 right-handed shooting d-man. ISS says that his so adept at joining the rush that he acts more as a fourth forward than the first blueliner in on the rush. He is going to need to work on maturing and getting stronger so that he can add a physical component to his game.
ISS: “offensively gifted defenceman who possesses an elite skill-set and skating ability. Quality offensive defenseman who can QB the breakout and the PP.”
ADAM MUSIL – C/RW
CS: # 61 NAS — THN: # 71 (Not Available)
ISS: # 104 (Not Available) — TSN: #65 (Andrew Desjardins)
NHL bloodlines run very deep for the 6-3/202 forward. His father Frantisek was a veteran of 797 NHL games as a d-man. Brother David made his NHL debut on defense for Edmonton playing four games and his uncle is Bobby Holik.
Musil has room to develop his game, especially in terms of improving his skating. While ISS projects him out as a potential top-six forward candidate, he might fit nicely in the niche his Uncle Bobby had as a force as one of the NHL’s best checking/third line centers.
KEVIN STENLUND – C
CS: # 21 ES — THN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
ISS: 90 (Not Available) —– TSN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
At 6-3/205, Stenlund already has an NHL body – and he doesn’t turn 19 until September. On the down side, he has had two knee injuries and only time will tell as to if/how they play a role in his development. Stenlund served as the captain for his HV71 U-20 team.
ISS: “A big center who plays with maturity and great leadership. Utilizes his big frame well in protecting the puck … needs significant development time.”
RYAN BEDNARD – G
CS: # 22 NA-G —– THN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
ISS: # 19 G (Not Available) —– TSN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
Many of you are wondering why I have a goaltender listed given the depth in the organization. The answer is simple, you can never have enough goaltending and in a draft with such few selections it is best to get the best you can.
The 6-4/180 Bednard has committed to Bowling Green University after posting a 2.86 GAA and a .913 SV% for Johnstown of the NAHL. Factor in four years of college and another two years honing his craft in the minors, it will be at least six years before Bednard could logically state his case for a shot as the number one in New York – and a lot of things can happen during that time.
Bednard uses the butterfly style and pays attention to playing his angles. One benefit that he would bring is his ability to control the puck with his stick and distribute it to his teammates.
DRYDEN HUNT – C
CS: # 111 NAS —– THN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
ISS: 144 (Not Available) —– TSN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
Hunt is another one of those players who spent last season with a chip on his shoulder as he went undrafted in the 2014 Draft. Much like Christian Jaros, there might be a couple of teams regretting that they didn’t take a late round flyer on either player.
Hunt (6-0/199) projects out as a two-way center who exploded between his second WHL season (62-21-19-40) and his third season that was split between Regina and Medicine Hat (71-33-50-83).
ISS: “An effective two-way center who shows strong strength, balance and protection skating up ice. Third line ceiling. Secondary offensive contributor who can play special teams well.
GRANT GABRIELE – D
CS: # 90 NAS —– THN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
ISS: # 141 (Not Available) —– TSN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
The 6-1/167 d-man is a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Gabriele does a little bit everything well. His game should develop as he starts to mature on the ice and off the ice – and adds some bulk to his frame. He has committed to play at Western Michigan University.
ISS: “Steady simple two-way defenseman showing good mobility and awareness in all zones. Depth defender who will show up every day and give you his all.”
CHASE PEARSON – C/LW
CS: # 123 NAS —– THN: # 83 (Not Available)
ISS: # 193 (Not Available) —– TSN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
The 6-2/190 Pearson is another 2015 draft prospect who has NHL bloodlines as his father Scott Pearson played in 292 NHL games. Pearson is expected to return to Youngstown of the USHL before heading to the University of Maine in 2016. I wouldn’t be adverse to the Rangers taking Pearson prior to the 7th round – even as high as the 4th round.
“He’s a big, strong two-way centerman,” Youngstown coach Anthony Noreen told the Bangor Daily News. “He has elite hockey sense, and he’s great on faceoffs.”
Pearson scored 12 goals and 14 assists in 57 games with Youngstown, but eight of his goals came on the PP.
ISS: “A strong and big winger who skates well and displays aggressive puck pressure. Good offensive positioning. Bottom six defensive shutdown role.”
SAM MILETIC – LW
CS: # Not Rated (Not Available) —– THN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
ISS: # 178 (Not Available) —– TSN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
The 6-0/182 Miletic is a future University of Michigan commitment so you know that he is going to learn how to play the game under legendary coach Red Berenson. While he projects out as a two-way forward, his offensive game is still developing. His hockey IQ, skating and compete level do leave room open for developing offensively. If he turned to be Carl Hagelin-lite, he still would be a useful NHL player.
ISS: “A two-way versatile forward who brings strong work ethic and intangibles on both sides of the puck. A depth forward who can PK and provide secondary offense.”
CHAZ REDDEKOPP – D
CS: # 82 NAS (Not Available) —– THN # Not Rated (Not Available)
ISS: # 176 (Not Available) —– TSN: # Not Rated (Not Available)
The 6-3/200 blueliner already features NHL size and pretty good skating ability for someone his size. He is the prototypical shutdown, physical d-man teams crave. He uses his size to battle in front to clear the net and to deliver big hits. The left-handed shooting defenseman’s shot is better than his offensive game – scored five goals (with 16 assists) in 72 games with Victoria (WHL).
ISS: “Solid stay at home defender with a strong thick build and responsible instincts and work ethic. Depth defender who will thrive in playoff style hockey.”