We have been speculating a significant amount over the past few weeks over who the New York Rangers will, and will not target on draft day. But the Rangers generally play their cards close to the vest, so the only real people who know who New York is targeting tonight is sitting in the draft war room. But that doesn't mean the speculation will come to an end.
We have talked about trading down if the Rangers top choices aren't left on the board, but who are those top choices? The general consensus is Gordie Glark and Glen Sather will draft for offense. But in Andrew Gross' article today he speculated about three players the Rangers might love to fall into their lap, and one of them isn't a forward.
C Mark McNeill: The 6-foot-2, 201-pound native of Langley, B.C. had 32 goals and 49 assists in 70 games for Prince Albert (Western Hockey League) but his rising stock and size could mean he's gone before Rangers pick
D Jamieson Oleksiak: A native of Toronto now playing at Northeastern, his 6-7, 244-pound frame and on-ice poise may be hard to resist, though his offensive game (three goals, nine assists in 34 games) is not yet developed
C Mark Scheifele: The 6-2, 182-pound native of Kitchener, Ont. had 22 goals and 53 assists in 66 games for Barrie (Ontario Hockey League) and his six goals and two assists led the forwards for Team Canada at the 2011 Under-18 World Championships
We reviewed two of these players already on the Banter already (we avoided Oleksiak because we assumed a defenseman wouldn't be in the mix), you can find the review on McNeill here and the review on Scheifele here.
Join me after the jump for more.
As I have been saying from the beginning, I would love for the Rangers to take either McNeill or Scheifele.
McNeill would have ended up being our first round pick if he was still on the board in the SBNation NHL Mock Draft, but he ended up being taken by Calgary before we could grab him. And while we ended up grabbing Joel Armia with Scheifele still on the board, there was a pretty major debate in my mind of which to choose. Both McNeill and Scheifele have game-breaker potential, and both bring something different to the table. If either of them are Rangers at the end of the night I would be ecstatic.
Steve Zipay also speculated on who the Rangers might be looking at. From his article today (subscription recquired):
The Rangers have no second, third, sixth or seventh round selections, and may try to add one. If they stand pat, they are believed to be interested in a center or right wing, and there are numerous candidates in that range, including centers Mark Scheifele, Mark McNeill, Boone Jenner and right wings Joel Armia and Tyler Biggs.
We just went over McNeill and Scheifele above, so let's look at Armia, Biggs and Jenner.
Armia has been discussed about in length, but he's worth a quick summary here. His goal scoring potential might be the highest in the draft, and he is another one of those players I would put in the game-breaker category. He's big, uses his size well and is already scoring big time goals in a men's league at 17-years-old. That speaks volumes to me.
Jenner projects to be a very hard working, good player at the NHL level. But the Rangers already have two of him in Brandon Dubinsky and RYan Callahan. I don't see him fitting in here in this year's draft. But who knows, he definitely has some value.
Of all the picks Biggs would probably be the most disappointing. Hockey's Future had the Rangers selecting Biggs in their mock draft and it cause an uproar among twitter fans.
I have been hearing the Rangers have interest in Biggs in this year's draft (especially if they trade down). And while Biggs might not be the sexy pick that Armia, Scheifele or McNeill might be, he still projects to be a rough and tough power forward who can score goals. Does he have the ceiling Armia does? Not a chance. Does that mean he would be an awful pick? Not a chance.
Let's all agree, especially after the Dylan MacIlrath pick last year, that Clark and Sather know way more about prospects than us and they know what they are doing. If Clark goes with Biggs today, while I won't like it at all, doesn't mean it would be a failed pick.
In the end, the only people who know what is going to happen tonight is Sather and Clark. So let's just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Have I mentioned I love draft day yet?
The floor is yours.