Rangers Draft Review: Day One

By Michael Theodore
With no first round pick or third round pick coming into the NHL draft, the Rangers had all of their draft day eggs in one basket within the second round. They traded that pick to the Detroit Red Wings for their second and third round choices. With wingers Ben Knopp and David Morriset waiting to be called, the Rangers pulled a little bit of a surprise and chose Regina Pats Defenseman Filip Novak. In a case stated in the Draft preview it was was simply the Rangers drafting whom they felt was the best player at that time.
The Rangers had seen Knopp while watching prize prospect Jamie Lundmark over in Moose Jaw. While slightly impressed by him, the Rangers went with a gut feeling that Novak had more upside. The Rangers weren’t as impressed with Knopp as most people were, and they would know because they probably saw him more then most teams. Though he spent the bulk of the season on a line with Jamie Lundmark, the Rangers felt that he just didn’t have that special something that they were looking for with the first of their only two top 100 picks. From lacking one gear to not finishing off the chances Lundmark created, too many members of the Rangers brass were not interested in Knopp. The general feeling was that Lundmark is a first line NHL caliber center and that if Knopp was really as good as everyone stated he was, he’d have posted far superior numbers. The Rangers felt that there were just too many games where Knopp looked lost. A few rumblings were whether or not in a year or two Knopp would be significantly better then he is right now. The Rangers loved Brian Sutherby, also a member of Moose Jaw, but showed so interest in moving up to get him, mainly due to the fact that they didn’t want their only top 100 pick to be based around a player who is the same position the Rangers have as a strength right now. With a log jam of Petr Nedved, Lundmark, Mike York, Manny Malhotra, Tim Taylor and possibly now Mark Messier, there wasn’t a keen interested in adding what many felt was a good two way checking center. Though the Rangers weren’t weak on Defense either the chance to draft Novak was something the Rangers wanted in the end.

Tall and rangy the 6’1, 190 pound defenseman looks similar to the way Burke Henry did three years ago. He moves the puck better then Henry did as an 18 year old but is less physical. Though he still has some growing, size is less of a concern for Novak then it was this time last year. He is probably a tad closer to 6’2 right now and should play at around 6’2, 205 if he makes the show. He makes safe passes and gets the puck out of his own end very well. He won’t hammer people into the boards but he takes them out. He knows his limitations and is one of the better two way defenseman in the draft. The Czech born defenseman was one of the few, and I mean very few bright spots on the Regina Pats Franchise. He was one of three plus players and arguably their most steady defenseman. Limited to 49 games the defenseman obviously saw his stock slip on draft day. He doesn’t have the makings of a number one defenseman, at least as it appears now, but he could be the sleeper of the second round. He is one of those kids who in a year or so jumps right to the NHL out of nowhere.

It was the Rangers highest pick of the day as a result of last year’s wheeling and dealing, and the Detroit deal. Though it lacked excitement and more than likely a kid who will jump right into their top ten prospects, it does present a kid who could be a real diamond in the rough. The matter of fact is that had Pavel Brendl or Lundmark been in this draft they would have went in the top five and more likely the top three. The only prospect from this years draft who would have knocked them out of 1-2 is possibly DiPietro. So the Rangers still came away with the better players, but Novak could be a steal in time. If the Rangers don’t add some veteran defenseman it is very possible he could challange for a spot this year, though my money is that he is at least a year away. But he should be watched, after seeing Johnnson, Kloucek, Mottau and Aufiero arrive from obscurity and seeing Henry, Dessner progress, it is very possible that Novak might shoot up through the system faster then expected. All in all the Rangers got a solid pick despite everything.

In the the third round the Rangers nabbed Center Dominic Moore from Harvard. The 6’0, 180 pound center provides good speed and average size. He was a solid pick up and basically the Rangers took a flyer on the kid who is indeed related to Mark and Steve Moore. At almost 20 years of age he is a bit older then the rest of the other draftees. Had 12 goals this year for Harvard. To me at least he looked better suited for a wing spot rather then a center spot. Time will tell.

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