Just like most fans, I have mixed reactions with this year's draft. Allow me to express my thoughts.
I was a little disappointed in this year's draft. The hype of an infamous draft class similar to that of the 2003 Entry Draft got all Rangers fans excited on who draft specialist Gordie Clark was going to select. Things looked promising when General Manager Glen Sather made a deal to bring defensive prospect Tim Erixon from Calgary into the future fold, who is close to being NHL ready and an eminent threat as an offensive defenseman. The idea that the Rangers will be drafting forwards also drew a lot of attention, and the plethora of picks that would have been perfectly compatible with the team's style of play got fans giddy with excitement. Players like Joel Armia, Mark McNeil, Boone Jenner, Nicklas Jensen, Zach Phillips, and Matt Puempel, who were left on the board by pick no. 15, were close to being ready and contributing offensively. Instead, fans got a little disappointed with their selection.
For the fifteenth pick in this year's draft, the Rangers selected a Mr. Jonathan T. Miller from the USA-U18 team from the United States Hockey League. A good player, don't get me wrong, who can contribute to all aspects of the game and make great plays. However, Miller is more of a playmaker and passer. He will improve in this field for sure, while he commits himself to the University of North Dakota. The last first round pick that took his college studies and collegiate hockey career more seriously than his professional hockey career drafted by the Rangers was Chris Kreider. Fans are anxiously awaiting his arrival, yet if for some reason he decides to pursue a career outside of hockey, he will be considered a waste.
Speaking of wastes, we took a chance with an Evegny Grachev, saw his size affect his performance, and traded him to draft a Minnesota high school student in Steven Fogarty. He has been regarded as one of the best high school players in the country (23-17-40 in 24 games with Edina High), but is too committed to playing in college and might not allow himself to play for another four years.
Still, it would be great to see these two in Rangers sweaters. And this Michael St. Croix loos quite promising as well, a steal as most people exclaim.
My mixed reactions might seem a bit puzzling, but they do serve a purpose. Unless I am mistaken with the future intentions of Miller and Fogarty, it seems that Clark drafted for the too-distant future. Do you see how puzzled I am? I am content with these picks yet upset that we could have done better. We should have drafted for now or close to now like how we have discussed for months. If no one has any objections, allow me to explain what I would have done.
1.) Trade expendable players and picks to move up in draft.
- Del Zotto has a lot of trade value, and since we have had issues with this kid's behavior, why chance it? He could have easily gotten us a first round pick, probably in the top 10.
- Gilroy wants to test out the market for better offers. Let him. Trade him to a team for a 2nd or 3rd rounder (pending team desire) and then let them worry about him.
- Grachev is gone now, never really saw him making it, but we could have gotten something higher than the 74th overall pick (at most #60, I reckon).
- Package 4th and 5th rounders for a second rounder.
- Kundratek is expendable because of our current defensive core. Good defenseman, has a heavy shot, a stay-at-home kind of guy, Tommy will see a future in the NHL, however, not fore this team. I would have, to be honest with you, trade him for Nikita Filatov and probably a pick.
2.) Draft a goalie.
Chad Johnson and Scott Stajcer, our two most talked about goalies in the farm, are questionable in my book. Johnson has a mediocre 5-hole and minor intricacies with positioning, and Stajcer has trouble positioning himself in net, depending on offensive support from his Owen Sound teammates and limiting him to 14 stars in 2011, a decline from 55 in the previous season. If we had a second round pick, I would have jumped on either Gibsons or Magnus Hellberg in a heartbeat. I would have preferred Hellberg for two reasons: he is a Swede and could have worked with Henrik Lundqvist and according to IN LOU WE TRUST's report on him, he is a big goalie who can cut down the angles of shooters, positions himself well in goal, and follows gameplay very well. Would have loved to at least make an effort for him. By the way, anyone catch a glimpse of Dov-Grumet Morris? Between the AHL and ECHL, a 28-13-2 record with a 91.6 SV% and a 2.15 Goals Against Average. I think he has a shot at NHL level. The AHL Website had an article on him. Can't find link, but I will post it.
3.) Draft those who are very close in being NHL ready, and listen to the fans.
We need help in specific fields right away, i.e. secondary scoring, special teams, and future goalkeeping. Why draft high school students entering college that are questionable in the future? Someone other than me has to be thinking this?
Applied hypothetical scenarios (just for kicks)…
1. Rangers trade Tomas Kundratek to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Nikita Filatov, since they don't like him there anymore.
2. Rangers trade remaining picks to the Detroit Red Wings for 2011 2nd Round Pick (no. 35).
3. Rangers trade Michael Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy, and Evgeny Grachev to the Minnesota Wild for 2011 MIN 1st Round Picks (no. 10 and 28). Could work in our favor since we will be giving them a future two-way forward, an indecisive player, who will do well in the future, and a bust. Sather would have probably made some kind of persuasive argument to get it done.
Selections (assuming who remained):
10. Joel Armia, RW
15. Mark McNeil, C
28. Zack Phillips, C
35. Magnus Hellberg, G
Trades: Nikita Filatov and Tim Erixon
Farm System (not in NHL):
Good core with great potential. A great defense with stellar Swedish goaltending and an improving offense that will not require excessive payments for free agent forwards.
What would you have done differently? Discuss.