As this team heads west on the heels of a 3 game losing streak sitting in 8th due to games played and tied w 4 other teams for the 10 fewest points in the league at 55 there is hope to look forward to in the 2010 NHL draft. There are 5 teams 1 pt behind the Rangers w 54, so they are 1 pt from 5th and 4 points from 4th as Columbus has 51 points followed by Toronto at 44, Carolina at 41, and Edmonton at 38.
What this team has shown this year is that no matter the brilliance they can show for stretches they are not a contender, they are not 1 player away from being one and they probably couldn't even string together a consistent enough stretch to win a series if they did sneak into the playoffs. With that said as is known for about the last month I have publicly advocated for a sell of the parts we can to obtain more picks in the upcoming draft as I believe it is a very strong draft, especially the first couple of rounds.
Join me after the jump for who to sell, what to hope to get for them and some 1st and hopefully 2nd round names to look for.
Players to sell:
Prospal: Vinny has far exceeded what any of us could have hoped for when he was signed, but this is a business and let's be realistic he is not a building block of the future of this franchise. He has excellent value for numerous reasons: hard worker, battles in the corners, very good setup man, multi-positional, plays in all situations and can be a leader. A perfect fit imo for Vinny is a team like Boston who has struggled all year to score, a lot due to injuries, but adding Prospal to Savard would give them two very good set up men to go with players like Ryder, Wheeler, Lucic as finishers and Bergeron as an all-around player. Vinny also is cheap which would be important to Boston and good for us is that Boston because of trades has 5 picks in the 1st 2 rounds of the draft (tor, own 1st; tor, tb, own 2nd). I think that we could get Toronto's 2nd somewhere around 33 in the draft and maybe a 4/5 for vinny.
Girardi: As much as it is in vogue to bash on Girardi right now and I will for the Gaborik thing as well the guy did not suddenly go from a solid defensive defenseman who could play top 4 even top 2 minutes to a scrub overnight. What has happened is he is now in a system where he is told to think offense as well and instead he is now just thinking all the time instead of playing hockey and ending up dead cause he gets caught in between too much. Send him to a system where he can think defense 1st and he will go back to being a solid if unspectacular top 4 d-man on a team and given his RFA status and downplay probably causing a lower contract I think he could easily net a 3rd round pick from a team. Teams like Van, Phx, LAK and even Cgy come to mind as a team that could use a "vet" d-man who can play top 4 min and be solid. LA has 2 extra 3rd round choices this year (ours and florida's), Calgary has an extra as well while, Phx doesn't have one.
Higgins: Chris is even as he plays now a good defensive forward who is good on the penalty kill and works hard to create opportunities. The problem is he has lost all offensive confidence so he hasn't played like the two way forward he is more than capable of being. I believe he is the player that Cgy was scouting when they were following us around as much as fans are dying for it to have been Kotalik. Higgins could possibly net a 3, or at least a 4 when players like Dom Moore netted a 2 last year.
Kotalik: Ales has a big shot, and if he hits the net he can be very effective on the pp as we saw early in the year. Not sure what team would be willing to take on Ales for the two years left on his deal but whatever the Rangers get is a bonus for me. Look for teams that have pp problems.
I would love to add Rozi to this list but I am not sure who would take him or what to look for. The only other name that might be out there for me is Gilroy but he is not as obvious.
So really I would sell prospal, girardi and Higgins hoping to get a high 2, couple of 3's and a 4, which leads me to discuss the players in the draft I would target.
Now the players to look at:
If the Rangers can land in the top 4 then they have a shot at the lottery and the number 1 pick in the draft. The choice this year is Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin and for my money while both are going to be superstars I would take Seguin in large measure because he is a center but also because of what he is doing with nothing else really around him, especially in comparison to Hall. Taylor Hall and it is not to take away from his talent because he is a special winger but he is playing on arguably the most talented junior team ever.
What I would say is that Hall is probably the better pure goal scorer and slightly faster of the two but that Seguin is the better all around player as I think Seguin is a better stick handler, plays in tight quarters better, tougher on the puck, better hockey IQ and a better playmaker, but both are going to be great players.
That said I don't see the rangers realistically ending up with either, but they could still end up w a top 5 pick. Other names that are used around the 3-10 range are Cam Fowler: excellent d who shut down Hall for team USA in the U20; Erik Gubranson: D man who plays with Werek in Kingston who is a very good 2 way player (missed time with mono and an enlarged spleen); Brandon Gormley: another D who I know less about but is putting up nice numbers in the Q. The forwards mentioned: Brett Connolly has been a top 5 candidate all year despite his hip injury that has kept him out most of the year; Nino Niederreiter LW who many know from the U20 tournament and his sick 1 handed goal in the CHL skills. Others include Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Burmistov, Mikael Granlund and Kirill Kabanov who has slipped due injury and Russian effect.
If the Rangers ended up with the 3rd pick as much as we don't need another D I would strongly consider Fowler if he was there, while hoping either Hall or Seguin fell. I figure that at the end of the day they probably wind up 5 or 6 at best, and with the offensive need I would take Nino if he is there while looking hard at Kabanov if he proves he is healthy (I really dislike wrist injuries to hockey players) and Tarasenko. To me Nino is the power forward type we have been looking for with this team for last 10 years at least. If I had to come up with a comparison Nathan Horton is a pretty good one, but being lefty maybe Hossa or Daniel Sedin is better. El Nino has size, speed, toughness, hands, all we could want in a LW, not to mention he will be 17 until Sept, so he is nearly a year younger than some of his draft mates. He has adjusted very well the NA game as a rookie in the dub.
Now if the Rangers got that 2nd rounder of Toronto's from Boston for Prospal and had their own pick we would probably have around the 33rd and 35/36 pick in the 2nd round. Players that I would look to target:
Ryan Johansen: 6' 3" 188lb center who plays on the same line as Nino in Portland, very good playmaker who plays tough on the boards and plays in all situations. Ranked 19th in McKenzie's latest rankings so unlikely to fall to 2nd.
Stanislav Galiev: 6-1, 177 lbs. Played hockey in the US last year and decided to go to the Q for this season, don't see him as a huge KHL risk. Was ranked 29th in Mckenzie's list. Has good size and speed. Very good puck control at full speed. Sees teammates. Has good wrist shot and is aware of his man in all zones. Has that extra gear to get away from peers. Very good hockey sense and quick stick. -ISS.
Maxim Kitsyn: 6' 2" 194lbs. Plays in the KHL and will probably fall maybe even further than round 2 due to what I will call Filatov effect. "Kitsyn is a toe drag master and loves to pull the puck in close and then fire quick shots the other way on the rush. He will often use defenders as screens to get off sneaky and dangerous shots. He is a very unselfish player, especially in zone play. - International Scouting Services"
Other forward names: Tyler Toffoli: 6' 0" 181lbs. ranked 26 by McKenzie. Quinton Howden: 6' 3" 183, ranked 30th.
Big Physical D-men
I know all of you have been itching for a pitch road grater d-man on this team since Beukeboom really. There are two names ranked in the 20's that might slip into the early 2nd. Jared Tinordi and Dylan McIlrath (the name is made for big bruising d-man; feel the wrath). Both are 6' 5" 200+ at 17 years old and while both are physical McIlrath is a fighter as well as he has accumulated 132 PIM's in 48 games and dropped the gloves 14 times.
So those are some names I am following as the season winds down and depending on what the rangers do the names might change but if we could add 3 of these guys the rebuilding would take another giant step forward and what I can say about all of these guys other than maybe the Russians specifically kitsyn since I don't know him as well is they all play with some level of grit and heart in their game and we all know we could use more of that right now.
Here is video of some of the guys i mentioned:
Video has Toffoli, Nino, Galiev and other top prospects: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfCqHTLj8qU
One handed skills challenge goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv7PZ4ooyCc
Taking the body: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0tKsTIQuPY
Willing to fight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m799zjEeHg
Won without being able to see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88FD-7m_ik0
Good with both hands http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AW6TjZCIpKk
defending teammate and destroying the dude: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRc9C6BMbrA
Standings update for games thru Thurs. 1/28
Rangers now in 9th in the conference as atlanta won vs philly and moved to 56 points.
Overall Rangers now tied for 8th lowest points in the league at 55 (still 4 others at 55, now only 2 at 54, 1 at 51, toronto 44, carolina 43 (and hot) and edmonton w 38. St. Louis was the other team to pass us by winning and going to 56. Nino, here we come.