Rangers 2005 draft preview

By HF Staff

Rangers Top 10 Prospects

1. Fedor Tyutin, D
2. Henrik Lundqvist, G
3. Alvaro Montoya, G
4. Jozef Balej, RW
5. Jarkko Immonen, C
6. Lauri Korpikoski, LW
7. Nigel Dawes, LW
8. Hugh Jessiman, RW
9. Thomas Pock, D
10. Bruce Graham, C

Previously a team with one of the weakest prospect pools in the league, the New York Rangers have made tremendous strides in the past year and a half to create a strong pipeline of future players. The group they have now is remarkably balanced, and a number of these prospects are poised to play at Madison Square Garden this fall.

Team Needs

With its roster stripped down starting in 2003-04, and the team in full rebuilding mode, the New York Rangers have holes at every position. Many of these holes will be filled by youngsters coming up through the system, and some via free agency.

The Rangers most glaring weakness remains on the blueline, lacking a large crease-clearing defenseman. New York has a host of good young defenders, but they are a relatively soft group. A mobile and physical presence is desperately needed. The departure of Brian Leetch leaves them without a true No. 1 defenseman.

Organizational Strengths

In net, the Rangers have two potential No. 1 goalies in Henrik Lundqvist and Al Montoya. Neither are under pro contract yet, however, and neither are likely ready to step right into the NHL.Up front, all roles are filled, with snipers Jozef Balej and Nigel Dawes, two-way forwards Jarkko Immonen and Lauri Korpikoski, and power forward Hugh Jessiman. The Rangers have great depth when it comes to grit players to fill out their third and fourth lines.

Organizational Weaknesses

Defense is the greatest need in the pipeline. Fedor Tyutin, a blue-chip 2001 pick tops the group, but it falls off steeply beyond him. Thomas Pock did well in his NHL debut in 2003-04, but had a tough year in Hartford in 2004-05.Restocking in goal would be a good idea for this organization, when two of their three goaltenders will likely be turning pro this season.

Draft Tendencies

Rangers GM Glen Sather’s love affair with collegiate players continues. His first picks in the last three entry drafts, Al Montoya, Hugh Jessiman, and Lee Falardeau have all been from the NCAA. In the past five years, 17.6 percent of the team’s pick have been from the college ranks, compared to a league average of 10.3 percent. Remarkably, all of these picks have come from just two conferences, the ECAC and CCHA.

Sather is a solid customer of the European leagues, with 39.2 percent of picks, compared to a league average of 36.6 percent since 2000. But only two have been selected from Russia, Fedor Tyutin and Leonid Zhvachin, both in 2001.

When drafting from the Canadian juniors, the Western Hockey League is the favorite of the Rangers. Of the 11 CHL picks since 2000, seven have been from the WHL, four from the QMJHL, and just one from the OHL in Ryan Callahan. The league-wide averages are balanced, at 13.5 percent, 10.8 percent, and 13.8 percent out of the WHL, QMJHL and OHL, respectively.

In 2004 the Rangers had 13 draft picks, including two in the first round and three in the second round. The team selected 11 forwards, only one defenseman and one goaltender. Four of the picks were from European leagues, with three of the four out of the Czech Republic.

The Rangers hold the No. 16 pick in the 2005 Entry Draft, and three second rounders, thanks to previous trades. With these picks they will have the opportunity to continue to upgrade either depth.

Player most likely to be taken with first selection (Hockey’s Future mock draft result): Luc Bourdon, D, QMJHL Val D’Or.

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.