June 20, 2018
By Ralph Costanza
“Take what you need, you think will last…”
As the NY Rangers head into their most critical draft in recent memory, I can’t help to think of one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, and how befitting some of the lyrics to that song are as to what is happening now in this NY Ranger organization over the past year.
The Rangers have quietly dominated the trade market this year, setting themselves up beautifully for a very deep and extremely talented draft class, and for the future, thanks to some crafty, forward looking moves by their GM Jeff Gorton. The Rangers have accumulated 7 draft picks in the first 3 rounds of this draft (3 picks in the first round alone), but they have also been able to do that while clearing up an estimated $28 million in cap space with potentially more to follow, and holding on to some of their key players to build around. All of this while hiring new head coach David Quinn out of Boston University, a coach who has a successful resume with a knack for developing young talent. The Rangers are sending a message. They want to be young. They want to build the future now. And they want to it to last.
“Strike another match, go start anew…”
The Rangers believe they already have some of the building blocks in place for a future Stanley Cup run, drafting a pair of young 1st round centers in last year’s draft in 19-year old Lias Anderson and 18- year old Filip Chytil to complement their already very deep corps of young, talented centers. This is also why many around the league believe the Rangers are not yet done trading, as they hold a bevy of draft picks including the 26th and 28th overall picks, chips that are certainly valuable on their own, but more so if you can couple one, if not both picks, with a top-6 center, like a Kevin Hayes, to move up the draft board. The Rangers have already confirmed that are receiving calls from teams around the league about the availability of Hayes, one of the Rangers seven restricted free agents. But more importantly than just fielding calls, the Rangers have unequivocally solidified their appeal to be a major trade partner leading up to the draft. And if Gorton plays his hand correctly, that can work to their advantage. Bigly. And if all goes well, whether they indeed decide to wrap up some of these picks in a trade or not, the Rangers are absolutely in the running for a big free agent signing this summer.
“The carpet too, is moving under you…”
The Rangers need to be careful here as being in such a position is a privilege as much as it could be a curse. There are a lot of moving parts heading into Friday night, and it would behoove GM Thorton to keep a close eye on who he has a realistic shot at in free agency, which starts on July 1st.
With John Tavares headlining the FA class of 2018, and John Carlson (who I would really love to see the Rangers land), there is also 29- year old left winger James van Reimsdyck, all of whom would be commodities for a team looking to add some seasoned, elite-talented vets to help along the younger generation. But if Gorton isn’t vigilant in his pursuit to build what he has been anticipating, his vision for the future, he could wind up wasting a once in a lifetime opportunity. If the Rangers are going to make a trade before or during Friday night’s draft, they need to do this with the mind-set that they can make improvements in several areas, including defense and a much needed partner for Kevin Shattenkirk.
“…now, Baby Blue”
Here are some of my favorite picks for the Rangers in the NHL Draft, 2018.
Noah Dobson – 18 Year old super-talented defenseman can play in any system. His can flat out score, a power play specialist and isn’t afraid to get physical. At 6’3”, 178 lbs, he has the size but could use some time in the weight room; has a legit shot to make the team right away.
Evan Bouchard – At 6’2 195lbs, Evan Bouchard worked his way to a lock for a top 10 pick after being projected as a mid-to-late first round defenseman. In 67 games played this year he led ALL defenseman in points, including those rated higher than him, with 87, has a wicked shot and is an above average skater. Respect.
I would love to see the Rangers get one of the top rated defenseman with pick number 9. There is plenty of offensive talent later in the draft, and the Rangers would be wise to build around a true partner for Shattenkirk.
Picks #26 and #28– Assuming they don’t make a trade these are my favorite picks for these spots.
Akil Thomas – A two-way center who can also play the wing, something diverse the youthful Rangers could use. He also has the ability to win draws and kill penalty’s, something the Rangers would love to add here. Oh yeah, he can also score. Racked up 81 points in 68 games playing 2017/18 in Niagra (OHL).
Bo Groulx – 18-year old left-handed pure sniper out of Halifax, Bo has a propensity to step up in big games. More importantly though, he has an absolute bomb of a slap shot and is an above average, if not elite, defensive center, something that is a rare commodity in the big leagues. I’m sold after seeing him play throughout the year. Get him.
Serron Noel – Aside from having a cool name, Serron Noel is a 6’5” 209lbs man-beast that can flat out play right wing. He’s physical, which is natural for his size, but his focus is not as much on grinding as it is the finesse part of the game. Rangers could use someone like this to soften a defense, and his pure ability is intriguing. They may have to trade up to get him, but I’m behind it. Size like this doesn’t grow on trees.
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