As you all know, Blueshirt Banter has a very good relationship with prospects expert Russ Cohen. Seriously, he's the best guy in the business and helps us out a lot when we have questions about the pieces in the Rangers' farm system. The below is from Russ about the Rangers selections in the 2013 NHL draft.
New Jersey -- One of the things I noticed while I was running around at the draft yesterday was the smile on the face of Anthony Duclair. He was leaving the building with a few of his friends, also drafted, from the "Q".
At 17, he was one of the youngest players at the draft. Patrick Roy, his former coach, didn't draft him. That's not necessarily an indictment of the player because Colorado wanted mostly defenseman and they loaded up on them after they took Nathan MacKinnon.
He's had two solid seasons and the Remparts run a defense-first system. He had an injury this year and that certainly led to his drop in points. He has a lot of speed, his stick is always ready, and he knows where to go to get into scoring position. He trails the play well and can keep up with the rush. All important aspects. He's played with Mikhail Grigorenko (12th overall in 2012) and Adam Erne (33rd overall in 2013). He will have to prove he can score without big names like that.
At 5-11, 177 the hope is he grows a tad and can fill out a bit. Next year he'll be expected to be a bigger scoring presence in the playoffs for sure. His last two were good but he can improve upon that. He's a long-term hope to make the Rangers.
The Rangers first selection, Adam Tambellini, is the son of former Oilers GM, Steve Tambellini. That's a good bloodline because Steve had a nice NHL career. At 6-2, 169, he didn't wow anybody at the combine when it came to strength. In fact that's the area has has to work on most and he's aware of it. On the plus side he had the lowest percentage of body fat at the combine. He didn't take part in the lower body testing due to an injury.
He's a smart kid who has excellent puck skills but right now, even at his size, is a perimeter player. He will have to toughen up his game to make it at the next level. The Rangers have been very active scouting the BCHL and I've talked about that with Gordie Clark many times. The league is starting to produce some great players.
Tambellini can skate well so many of the key attributes of a future NHL player are there and now he has to gain a few more before he's ready. He's headed to North Dakota so we'll see if that good wrist shot continues to find the twine in college. His passing is excellent as well. Ranger fans should expect him to play three years at North Dakota and then they'll see what they have.
Pavel Buchnevich has the kind of skill you want in a third round selection. At 6-1, 176 playing in the Russian junior league he has a long way to go before he ever hits Broadway, he needs to get stronger, not faster, but he has to learn how to play a North American game. I wonder if the Rangers tried to trade up for NJ pick Ryan Kujawinski who I'm pretty sure will play in the NHL? I think Jimmy Lodge, a PA kid with USA Hockey would have been a "safer" pick. Oliver Bjorkstrand a star on the Portland Winterhawks was there but I guess his 166 pound frame scared them although he's a great scorer. The Rangers went for a home run on this one.
Ryan Graves (6-4, 220) was a puzzling pick. He just seems like a #6 defenseman at best when there was Jordan Subban on the board, P.K. and Malcom's brother, and a defenseman who has some better all-around promise even though he's only 5-9 as he stands today. The hope is he can be a shutdown defenseman with some snarl if he makes it to the NHL someday.
I'm not familiar with Kootenay's Mackenzie Skapski. At 6-3, it's the kind of size you want for the future. To me, all the best goalies were taken at 63 so the Rangers took a shot on this prospect and now we'll wait and see.
Russ Cohen is the owner of www.sportsology.net, has written a book on the New York Rangers called,"100 Ranger Greats" has signed to do another Ranger book in 2014 and released a book on the Winter Classic a few months ago. You can visit his author page on Amazon.com here: amazon.com/author/russcohen
Just a few quick takes from me here:
- I haven't hidden the fact that I'm in love with the Buchnevich and Duclair picks. I speculated before the draft that the Rangers should think about using one or two of their third round picks on players with some risk but high offensive upside. Buchnevich (who I have seen called "as good of a goal scorer as you will see in this draft") is one of those players. There are things he needs to work on, of course, and risk involved with his current situation in the KHL (signed there for two more) but the raw talent and tools are there. I think he can be a special player. Things have to come together, of course, but at 18 I love what I see from him.
- Duclair is a similar player in terms of raw talent and tools. There's some risk involved in him, but not enough to justify his fall to 80th overall in my mind. He had some injuries which hurt his numbers last year, but every report you see about him justifies ignoring last year (where he still scored at nearly a point-per-game pace). He has blazing speed, is a great skater and has great offensive instincts. This upcoming year will be big for him. It should also be noted that nearly every beat reporter raved about his play in Tuesday's prospect scrimmage. He was apparently really impressive.
- Tambellini is more of a project, if nothing else because of the time frame before he can be expected to come to the NHL (because of the NCAA factor) but if he puts everything together the Rangers might have a really nice player in him. He's big, has the offensive skills you want to see and did great things in the BCHL. And like Russ said above, the Rangers have had success there before.
Thoughts, guys? And make sure to give his links a click, Russ does some fantastic work!