BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 31: Forward Andrej Kudrna #23 of Slovakia battles for the puck with forward Joel Armia #20 of Finalnd during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between Slovakia and Finland on December 31 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tomorrow marks the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, probably my favorite day of the hockey year.
Clark did not rule out making a trade to acquire some extra picks, particularly in the second round, if when it comes time to pick at No. 15 there's not one of their main targets left on the board. Unlike last year, when the Rangers went into the draft knowing they wanted to take bruising defenseman Dylan McIlrath at No. 10, Clark said they had "no real plan like that" but, if all things were equal, he's probably leaning toward taking a forward.
It's not surprising at all that the Rangers aren't going in with a concrete plan. This is one of the most unpredictable drafts I can remember. On one hand a top-10 talent might fall to the Rangers at 15, on the other hand the Rangers might not like what they see at 15 and trade down to get a pick in the second round to add to a later first round pick.
If guys like Joel Armia, Mark McNeill, Sven Bartschi or any of the other high end talent we have reviewed here on the Banter are available, expect the Rangers to nab them with the 15th pick. But if Glen Sather and Clark don't like what they see when it's their turn to pick it would be smart to trade down, especially since there will be some talent to be had in the second round.
Join me after the jump for more.
Although it might not seem like it, the Rangers already made their first pick of the 2011 NHL Entry draft by acquiring Tim Erixon. Clark talked to Gross about Erixon and where he thinks he would have fallen if he had re-entered the draft:
Clark said just because the Rangers acquired Tim Erixon from the Flames - Clark pronected that Erixon, had he gone back into this year's draft because Calgary was unable to sign him, would have been selected around eighth or ninth overall - does not preclude the Rangers from drafting another defenseman. Clark compared defenseman to pitchers in baseball, as in, you never have enough. But it was more than wanting to draft a defenseman last year. Clark said the Rangers specifically targeted McIlrath because of his physical play, which Clark thought the organization was lacking. As far as drafting an impact player, Clark believes Erixon fits that description.
I went into detail on how Erixon would be impacting the Rangers after the trade, and it's easy to forget the Rangers already acquired a top-10 talent who could have been part of this draft pool.
Clark also told Gross the Rangers might also take a goaltender in the draft.
As far as goalies, Clark said he feels the same way as he does about defenseman, you can never have a glut. Obviously, the Rangers are set with Henrik Lundqvist and Marty Biron as his backup. Chad Johnson and Cam Talbot should have split last season in Connecticut and the organization is very high on Scott Stajcer, a fifth-round pick in 2009 who has been signed to a pro contract. Clark is also keen to re-sign 6-foot-8 Jason Missiaen, who the Rangers initially signed out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in March. Still, Clark could see using one of the Rangers' picks on a goalie this weekend.
In the end, it's going to be a very fun and interesting draft.
Thoughts on all this guys?