The Rangers selected six forwards and one defenseman in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Of those players, only one, Artem Anisimov, is a regular NHLer. The Rangers traded Bobby Sanguinetti, their first round selection, and two other 2006 draftees in the last year. Of the four European players in the draft, David Kveton, Tomas Zaborsky and Lukas Zeliska played some junior hockey in North America after being drafted, but all three are currently playing in Europe. Anisimov remained in Russia for a single season after being selected by the Rangers and has played professional hockey in North America since then.
Because Anisimov is the only player who has NHL experience, and there are no NHL prospects who currently remain in the organization, the 2006 NHL Entry Draft cannot be considered a successful one for the Rangers.
Bobby Sanguinetti, D, Owen Sound (OHL) – 1st round, 21st overall
NHL Games Played: 5
Bobby Sanguinetti was the first Rangers’ draft selection in 2006. The big offensive defenseman had been ranked much higher, but dropped to New York because of concerns about his defensive play. This was the second year of four in which New York took players that had fallen in the draft because of some perceived issue. The first resulted in the drafting of Marc Staal, which was a very successful selection for the Rangers. The selection of Sanguinetti proved less so.
After an excellent junior career in Owen Sound, Sanguinetti joined the Rangers’ AHL team, the Hartford Wolf Pack, in the fall of 2007. There, the Rangers were hoping that Sanguinetti would develop into a top offensive blueliner and improve his skills in his own end. The young defenseman had a good 2007-08 season in Hartford, but after the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, in which puck-moving defenseman Michael Del Zotto was selected by New York in the first round, the Rangers had two blueliners in the system whose potential was to fill the same position within the organization.
Del Zotto’s performance over the next two seasons solidified him as the more ready of the two prospects, leaving Sanguinetti in an uncomfortable position. Last summer, on the second day of the NHL entry draft, the young New Jersey native was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, in exchange for a sixth round pick in 2010 (Jesper Fasth) and a second-round selection in 2011. Although he started the season on the AHL Charlotte Checkers blue line, Sanguinetti underwent surgery in December to repair a tear in the hip labrum and will be out for the remainder of the regular season.
Artem Anisimov, C, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv 2 (Russia) – 2nd round, 54th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 135
In the second round of the 2006 draft, New York selected Artem Anisimov, who most recently has been centering the Rangers’ top line. Anisimov had impressed scouts in his 2005-06 international appearances and seemed anxious to play in North America. After fulfilling his obligations in Russia in the year after he was drafted, Anisimov joined the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack in the fall of 2007. The young Russian was the leading scorer among rookies on the AHL roster that season (43 points in 73 regular season games). The following year, he appeared in 80 regular season games, recorded more than a point per game and was the highest scoring skater on the team.
Anisimov joined the Rangers for the 2009-10 season, as a third- to fourth-line center, and has been serving as a top six forward for most of this year.
With their third round selection, the Rangers selected the very speedy Ryan Hillier. Considered to have a great combination of excellent skating and stick-handling, Hillier made fancy plays and amazing goals. A playmaker and a goal scorer for the Halifax Mooseheads, Hillier was a popular selection, with great promise.
However, it did not pan out. Hillier continued to play in the CHL for two more seasons after he was drafted. Although he did well, he did not post exceptional numbers. In addition, once he became a professional, he had difficulty adjusting to the north-south game and often seemed out-muscled to the puck. He spent almost his entire professional career as a Rangers’ prospect in the ECHL, first with the Charlotte Checkers (when they were a Rangers’ ECHL affiliate) and then with the Wheeling Nailers.
Hillier was traded to the Anaheim Ducks last July, in the deal that brought Steve Eminger to New York.
David Kveton, C, Vsetin HC (Czech) – 4th round, 104th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
In the fourth round, the Rangers traded with the Los Angeles Kings to obtain the 104th overall selection (the Kings received the Rangers’ fourth and fifth round 2006 picks). With the selection, New York drafted David Kveton, an excellent skater, with good puck-handling skills and a creative hockey mind. The Rangers were excited about the selection, particularly because Kveton was very interested in playing in North America.
That fall, Kveton began the season as a member of the QMJHL Gatineau Olympiques. Relegated to the third and fourth line for the Olympiques early in the season, Kveton was frustrated. When his former Czech team offered him the opportunity to return to Europe, promising Kveton more ice time, he jumped at the chance. He then returned to Gatineau after Christmas, and in total appeared in 31 regular season games, posting 32 points (5 goals, 27 assists). Following the playoffs, the young Czech center was signed to an ATO by the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack, where he spent a week practicing with the AHL team before returning to Europe.
Kveton has not returned to play in North America as a Rangers’ prospect since the Traverse City Rookie Tournament in 2007. For the last four seasons, he has been a member of Trinec Ocelari HC in the Czech Extraliga and is expected to remain playing in Europe for the foreseeable future. The Rangers continue to hold his rights.
Tomas Zaborsky, C, Trencin Dukla (Slovak Extraliga) – 4th round, 137th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
The Rangers obtained the 137th overall selection from
the Washington Capitals in exchange for the Rangers’ fourth round selection in 2007. (The 137th overall selection had originally belonged to the Vancouver Canucks.) The Rangers’ European scout had been very impressed with Zaborsky, rating him an elite talent, and Zaborsky very much wanted to play in North America.
Zaborsky spent two seasons as a member of the OHL Saginaw Spirit, posting very good numbers. When he became a professional though, Zaborsky began to struggle in the Rangers’ system. Sent to the ECHL Charlotte Checkers in the fall of 2008, he was uncomfortable with how he was being played and asked to be loaned to another team. After being loaned to the Dayton Bombers, Zaborsky played well enough to garner a long look in Hartford during the 2009-10 pre-season. When his play was determined to be not up to AHL standards, he demanded to be traded to another organization. Instead the Rangers agreed to let him play for Assat Pori HC in Finland for the 2009-10 season.
In July 2010, the Rangers traded Zaborsky to the Anaheim Ducks. In the last year of his entry-level contract, Zaborsky has returned to Finland this season to play with Assat Pori.
Eric Hunter was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the eighth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and went unsigned. The Rangers liked what they saw of Hunter during the 2005-06 WHL season and selected him as a late round pick. Not offered an entry-level contract after his last season of junior eligibility, Hunter returned to Prince George for an overage year. However, he did not match his previous year’s numbers.
In the fall of 2007, Hunter entered the University of Alberta and began to play for the Golden Bears. Now in his fourth season at university, the Rangers will hold his rights until next summer.
Lukas Zeliska, C, Trinec Ocelari HC – 7th round, 204th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
The Rangers’ final selection of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft played in the Czech Junior League at the time he was drafted. A member of the WHL Prince Albert Raiders during the 2006-07 season, the young Slovakian did not prove to have the offensive fire power that the Rangers had hoped for when Zeliska was drafted. He made the effort to attend Rangers training camp, but was not impressive there either.
Zeliska returned to Europe to play hockey and the Rangers retain their rights to him.