Photo: After playing the past three seasons in Finland, defenseman Sami Vatanen made his way to North America and currently plays for the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Below is the middle section Hockey’s Future’s NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.
Photo: Selected 28th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft, defenseman Brady Skjei could be the next in an ever growing line of talented, mobile Rangers defensemen. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
After several years with a very strong group of prospects, the New York Rangers have graduated a lot of home-grown talent to the NHL team. The system remains strong defensively, but the only potential star in the system is winger Chris Kreider. Organizational depth in goaltending remains a weakness, with only Jason Missiaen and Scott Stajcer among the netminding prospects.
Photo: Cristoval "Boo" Nieves was one of only four players drafted by the New York Rangers in 2012. (Ian Altenbaugh/HF)
The successful rebuild of the New York Rangers has been based on the identity of speed, grittiness, and character. Eleven of the roster players have developed in the system, and the Rangers are not afraid to promote young players at any time of the year. Although the point of having a system through which prospects develop is to graduate them to the NHL roster, sustained success can leave a system needing replenishment.
Photo: Drafted 15th overall in 2011, forward J.T. Miller was impressive in his first year of OHL play, managing 62 points in 61 regular season games. (CHL Images)
Of the 28 players currently listed on the New York Rangers' roster, 10 are former Blueshirts' draft selections, and two (Ryan McDonagh and Tim Erixon) were obtained by the team through trade prior to the beginning their professional careers. One additional player, Dan Girardi, was signed as a free agent after a year of playing with the Rangers' AHL affiliate. Thirteen of the 28 players on New York's current roster are therefore homegrown, making the NHL Draft the primary source of NHL players for the team.
Photo: Though he started the 2011-12 season in the AHL, two-way winger Carl Hagelin finished it in the NHL on a line with stars Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
The New York Rangers' prospects had an excellent season, as the fruits of the changes in drafting philosophy continue to bear fruit. The awards include three first round selections and two picks from the 2011 entry draft.