Nickolai Bobrov has been fired by the New York Rangers according to Larry Brooks.
Rangers dismissed Bobrov, Post has learned. Chris Drury will oversee draft in conjunction with director of North American scouting Chris Morehouse, and with input from European scouts when applicable...— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) May 30, 2021
The move is certainly a surprising one on the surface, but when you look at Bobrov’s career history, it appears this is the organization getting rid of a holdover from Jeff Gorton’s tenure that held a pretty important role.
Bobrov served as the Rangers head of European Scouting from 2015-16 through this season, and joined the organization when Jeff Gorton was promoted to GM. Prior to joining the Rangers, Bobrov was a member of the Boston Bruins organization from 1999 to 2006. He left the organization when Peter Chiarelli was promoted to GM, and a year before Gorton was ultimately fired by the Bruins. After leaving the Bruins he worked with the Los Angeles Kings as a scout, and he also served as SKA St. Petersburg’s Director of North American scouting.
Bobrov, by all accounts he seemed like he was good at his job. He was at the forefront over the last few years as the Rangers talked about their prospects overseas, and was involved in the process when it came to who was ultimately drafted. He also would check in with players overseas in a precursor to the positions that were ultimately created for Tanner Glass and Tuomo Ruutu.
Bobrov also was the main person on camera giving updates on prospects, and served as an interpreter for some of the Rangers’ Russian players.
For years Gordie Clark was the guy for the Rangers when it came to the draft, but over the last few years you could see Bobrov starting to have a little more influence in the process. Bobrov was interviewed in 2019 by the New York Post, and he talked about the process of drafting players.
We take this week as a week to get to know the kids better, to get to know their backgrounds, their families, how they react in different situations in the interview, with 15 people sitting there, staring at you, poking at your life with different questions. Most of them are pretty dialed in, well-spoken and polished. And then we see how they react to pressure. Obviously, we have strength coaches here looking at their bodies and their test scores. Sometimes it matches with what we see on the ice and sometimes it doesn’t. So we try to correlate all that and put together the mosaic.
He later went on to talk about how the Rangers look at a variety of players, and sometimes try and find situations where they can move up, using K’Andre Miller as an example.
You know who you want, by and large. You know who you’re interested in, you’ve been zoomed in for a while. Sometimes you just hope they’re there for you. You work out scenarios of maybe trading up for some guys, like we did with K’Andre last year.
It certainly appears that a path is being cleared for Drury to ultimately install his own people in the various departments of hockey operations. Brooks’ tweet also mentioned that for the upcoming draft Drury will run the draft in conjunction with Director of North American Scouting Chris Morehouse, and the organizations European scouts where applicable.
Ultimately this isn’t a big deal for one draft, and it could suggest that the Rangers ultimately don’t plan on making many early picks. The fate of the Rangers’ first round pick will be determined at the draft lottery, but it sure seems like that will be used as an asset as opposed to taking a player.
The Rangers don’t have a second round pick, but have the first pick of the third round (acquired from Buffalo Sabres in Jimmy Vesey trade), their own third, their own fourth, a fourth acquired from the Kings in the Brendan Lemieux trade, a fourth acquired from Ottawa in the Vlad Namestnikov trade, and their own picks in the fifth, sixth, and seventh round.
The draft is going to be an interesting one given the disparity in games played by prospects due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but if the Rangers are basically punting this draft if they trade their earliest picks, it could explain why the decision was made now.
This is the latest example of Drury looking to put his touch on the organization, and it will be interesting to see what direction the organization goes in next to ultimately overhaul their scouting and draft department.