PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Cristoval Nieves, 59th overall pick by the New York Rangers, talks during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
First Round (28th Overall): Brady Skjei, Defenseman, USA U-18.
By now we should have a pretty good idea of what Gordie Clark, Glen Sather and the rest of the New York Rangers draft crew are going to do with their early-round picks. Clark loves heady, character players with lots of upside. He also seems to love the United States development pool, dipping into it for the last two year's first-round picks.
At first glance Skjei seems like a "safe" pick, but as you peel back the layers you see that it wasn't a safe pick, it was a great one. Skjei is a remarkably good skater (widely considered one of the best skating defenseman in the draft) who is a solid two-way player with offensive upside. Scouts will tell you their not sure how much offensive upside he has, but when asked after the selection Gordie Clark beamed about Skjei's "bomb" from the point, his vision and how he uses his speed and agility to create offense. After J.T. Miller wowed this year in the OHL (more than a point per game in the regular season) despite many scouts saying he didn't have offense, I think we can trust Gordie on this one.
In the end, if Skjei's offense doesn't pan out then he's like a Ryan McDonagh light (isn't it great when you can compare a prospect to an elite young player already on your team?), a great skating, two-way defenseman. If his offense does pan out, then he's a brilliant selection, bringing both sides of the defensive game to the Rangers. Either way, this was a solid pick by the Rangers.
Join me after the jump for more.
Second Round (59th Overall): Cristoval Nieves, RW, Kent HS (CT).
Another solid value pick, Nieves is another brilliant American skater (noticing a trend here?). Nieves put up great numbers at Kent (39 points in 26 games) and brought his A-Game to the next level as well posting 10 points in 13games for the Indiana Ice of the USHL. Nieves is a physical player with tons of offensive upside. His vision is supposed to be top-flight, along with a good shot and a nose for the net -- although consistency has been a drawback for him thus far in his career.
Nieves will play for the University of Michigan next year as well, which should give him some fantastic coaching and instruction on how to better his game.
Third Round (89th Overall): Traded to the Nashville Predators for a 3rd round pick in 2013.
Considering that this is considered to be one of the weakest draft classes in recent memory, it makes sense for the Rangers to get some value in next year's draft -- especially since there was no one on the board they liked in the third round. The Rangers now have three third round picks next year (their own, Nashville's and the Florida Panthers' from the Wojtek Wolski trade).
Fourth Round (119th Overall): Calle Andersson, D, Farjestads BK (Swe).
If the Rangers got good value with their first two picks, they got fantastic value with their fourth-round pick. Andersson was ranked as high as 35th overall in some mocks, and the Rangers were able to steal him with the 119th pick, after trading away their third-round pick for assets in next year's draft. Andersson scored 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists in 49 games) for his Färjestad J20 this past season. He also scored six points in 14 games for the Sweden U18 team.
Andersson is considered to have elite offensive skills, although his skating is suspect and needs work. Still, Andersson has the potential to be a legitimate power play quarterback in the Rangers' system, something they lack. He's certianly a player to keep an eye on.
Fifth Round (142nd Overall -- Acquired from Nashville for a fifth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft): Thomas Spelling, RW, Herning (Den).
Spelling is another good value pick for where the Rangers selected him. He put up great numbers with Herning, scoring 21 goals and 37 points in 33 games. He also had a fantastic playoffs, scoring 10 goals and 20 points in 17 playoff games. Throw that in with 14 points in 17 games for the Denmark U20 team and you have a kid who is showing off some serious offensive talent. He didn't get too much attention from NHL team's (although, interestingly enough, Nashville was supposedly high on him) but he became a superstar in Denmark this past season. Think of this as the Rangers' selection of Michael St. Croix last year. This might be a major, major steal for the Rangers, or it could be a bust. Either way, this is the pick I am the most excited about when all is said and done.
That was it for the Rangers. Thoughts guys?