On Friday, Corey Pronman of The Athletic published his deep dive into the New York Rangers prospect pool. A year ago, Pronman ranked the Rangers’ woeful farm system 29th in the league; this time around the Rangers finished one spot outside of his top 10. He also considers the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers to be tied with the second-deepest prospect pools in the league. Not a bad start for a team that is one year into a rebuild.
Of course, Blueshirt Banter’s own Adam Herman published his own list ranking the Rangers prospects earlier this month. So where did the two disagree? Let’s take a look.
Both Pronman and Herman agreed on their top four, but began to differ at the five spot. Herman considers defenseman Nils Lundkvist the best defensive prospect in the Rangers system, whereas Pronman has Lundkvist ranked behind K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, and Ygor Rykov (in that order).
Pound-for-pound, I think Lundkvist was the Rangers’ best selection in the 2018 Draft. This is a player who, as a 17-year-old, played a meaningful role on defense for a pretty good team in one of the top men’s leagues in the world.
Sometimes he gets too aggressive at the blue line trying to step up and force a turnover, leaving himself exposed. Other than that, though, there really aren’t any cracks in the foundation. Perhaps he does not have the raw upside of K’Andre Miller or a few other players drafted after him, but I don’t think he’s very far off, and he’s as polished as any player drafted outside the top-10.
Pronman sees Lundkvist as a smooth defenseman, but doesn’t think that he has a lot of skill. He categorized the young Swede in his fourth prospect tier, which is reserved for players who have a chance to be a good player at the NHL level. No matter who you agree with more, it’s hard to take issue with the Rangers grabbing Lundkvist at 28th overall in this year’s draft. He’s beginning to look more and more like a solid, safe pick.
Pronman and Herman also have very different perspectives on two of the Rangers’ most polarizing prospects: Olof Lindbom and Ryan Gropp.
Pronman has Lindbom ranked 10th in the Rangers’ prospect pool, one spot ahead of fellow goaltender Adam Huska. He considers the Swede to be a conservative goaltender with great positioning. Herman is also a fan Lindbom’s positioning, but he has concerns with Lindbom’s athleticism, as does Greg Balloch from InGoal Magazine:
About as “new school” technical as a goaltender can come. Anticipates well and has shown the ability to read plays at the junior level, but will that carry over? A lack of overall explosiveness and balance issues could cause him to slip.
No matter where you land on Lindbom’s potential, it’s still downright perplexing that the Rangers selected him in the second round. But with that being said, the Rangers have the right goaltending coach on staff to get the most out of him, Igor Shesterkin, and Huska.
Just to be clear, Pronman wasn’t high on Gropp. He ranked the young sniper 17th on his list and admitted that was in large part due to his skating ability and shot. Herman ranked Gropp 31st, behind six prospects that fit into Pronman’s “depth” category.
Gropp had 14 goals and seven assists in 59 AHL games last season as a rookie. We all know by now that his jaw-dropping production in the WHL was a result of playing with Mathew Barzal. But the Rangers still have a dearth of prospects who play wing with offensive upside, so Gropp should have an opportunity to improve from his lackluster performance in Hartford last year.
Be sure to check out Pronman’s full article on the Rangers farm system over at The Athletic. And, if you haven’t done so already, you can get through the doldrums of August by reading (or re-reading) Adam’s prospect rankings and prospect rankings mailbag.
Which prospects outside of Pronman and Herman’s consensus top four are you most excited for?