Rangers 2002 Draft review

By Evan Andriopoulos

With the 33rd pick overall Glen Sather and Co. took Michigan State`s Lee Falardeau a 6’4 203-pound bruising center who has been likened to ex Bemidji State, Calgary and Philly bruiser Joel Otto who tormented many a NHL star in his days. Falardeau was still available at 33, the CSB had him ranked at 31. While Falardeau may not put up big time stats in the college circuit look for him to develop into a solid two-way center that is not afraid of banging. Falardeau will remain in college after further evaluation and will be re-evaluated after the 2002-03 season. It is not likely we will see him for at least a couple more seasons.

With their 2nd pick (3rd round) the Rangers went with the Swedish Cam Neely in Markus Jonasen out of VasterĂ¥s of the Swedish Elite League. Jonasen a right wing like Neely, creates space by using his bruising style. At 6’4 220 the Rangers hope continues to develop into a true NHL two-way banging winger. The question as usual is can he make the transition to the NHL game? Johan Lindbom also a banging Swede failed to do so but time will tell. Keep an eye on this kid as we may see him New York bound in two seasons time.

With their first two picks going big Sather followed by taking defenseman Nathan Guenin out of Green Bay (USHL) at 127. Green a 190-pound defender is college bound next and at 6’1 has the size to succeed at the next level. The 5th round saw the Rangers go with left winger Mike Walsh out of Compuware (USHL). At 6’2 194 another banging up front man. Defenseman Jake Taylor, Green Bay (USHL) stands 6’3 and is 203 and plays a brutal stay at home physical style followed by center Kim Hirschovits IFK (Finland) a 6’1 180-pound speedster who is definitely worth keeping an eye on from a far.

The last part of the draft featured Sather going back to the USHL while grabbing 180-pound wing Joseph Crabb also out of Green Bay (USHL). It appears with the heaving concentration of selections from that area the Rangers spent much time following Green Bay. A Czech Marc Savard was taken in the 8th round being center Petr Prucha Pardubice (Czech) a smallish playmaker at just 160 pounds is very soft hands but is not afraid of playing with the bigger players. The Rangers went East Coast and grabbed right wing Rob Flynn out of Harvard (ECAC) also a big front man at 6’2 210 one of three Harvard players drafted in this year’s draft. One thing you know for sure, being a Harvard man he is quick to learn and will likely make some noise in Rangers camp and even at 9 could be a sleeper pick for Sather`s crew.

In sum, the Rangers went with more long term projects. The USHL guys are at least 3-4 years away from even being in camp. Of this entire group of picks perhaps Farlardeau and Flynn are the closest to being invited to camp for even a look which is very different from drafts in the past as players like Brendl, Lundmark, Malhotra etc. were expected to give a return on investment from day one.