2015 New York Rangers Draft Weekend Recap and Analysis
The 2015 NHL Entry Draft was held this past weekend at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida and the Rangers certainly turned up the heat with a flurry of moves. They drafted well and made some necessary trades. Let’s recap shall we?
When the draft began the Rangers were not set to select until the 59th pick. The first day came and went without any activity despite rampant speculation that Cam Talbot would be traded for a first round pick. Many Rangers fans were left wondering if the team would be trading Talbot after all. Well, as it turns out Talbot was eventually traded on day two of the draft but he was not the first Ranger to be moved that day. That distinction went to none other than Carl Hagelin.
Hagelin was seeking upwards of four million for his services this offseason. You can’t blame him for wanting more money but unfortunately the Rangers are not a team with much cap space to offer. Thus, GM Glen Sather found a trade partner in the Anaheim Ducks, and Hagelin along with 59th and 117th picks, were sent to southern California for Emerson Etem and the 41st pick in the draft.
Etem, 6’1” and 212 pounds, has an extremely high ceiling and was never given the proper opportunity to succeed on the Ducks due to the depth in front of him. With the Rangers, Etem will be given every opportunity to succeed and it’s clear he has talent; just check out this goal he scored on the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of this years playoffs.
Etem will be a more than welcome replacement for Hagelin and could provide a more powerful scoring touch if used in the right role. He will be an RFA on July 1st but the Rangers will almost certainly get a deal done. Etem was a great pickup but so was getting the 41st pick in the Draft which the Rangers used to select WHL Seattle Thunderbirds left winger, Ryan Gropp.
Gropp’s best asset at this point in his career might be his size. At 6’2” and 187 pounds he is by no means a small player. In the Hockey News’ draft preview, one scout described him as a “really good skater who can twist and turn away from guys.” Another scout said that he has soft hands and a quick release on his snap shot. Other scouts have said he needs to get to the net harder and needs time to mature but has the potential to be a top six forward in the NHL. Gropp was the leading scorer for the Thunderbirds this past season. The Rangers could use another winger of his size so hopefully he will pan out for the team.
Gropp’s stats from last season: 30 goals, 28 assists – 58 points in 67 games
Next move for the Rangers during the draft was trading backup goalie Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers in exchange sent back the 57th, 79th and 184th overall picks to the Rangers. Just as soon as it seemed like things would settle down on the Rangers front they made another trade and acquired the 62nd and 113th overall picks from the Washington Capitals in exchange for the 57th overall pick.
Using the 62nd pick, the Rangers selected right winger Robin Kovacs from AIK in Sweden. According to Future Considerations, Kovacs, who stands at 6’0” and weighs 175 pounds, is seen as a skilled winger with as strong understanding of the game. They go on to say he is fast on his feet and has quick agility which makes him dangerous in both the offensive and defensive zones. He also has a quick shot which “gives goalies nightmares.” One of the knocks on Kovacs is that he can be undisciplined at times. Hopefully we will be seeing him in Broadway Blue soon.
Kovacs’ Stats from last season: 17 goals, 11 assists – 28 points in 57 games
With the 79th pick in the draft the Rangers selected Sergey Zborovskiy of the WHL’s Regina Pats. Zborovskiy, a defensemen who stands at 6’3” and weighs 193 pounds, was not ranked by Future Considerations or the Hockey News but was ranked 103rd by Central Scouting. Not much information is out there about Zborovskiy but it can’t hurt to have a defensemen of his size in the pipeline.
Zborovskiy’s stats from last season: 3 goals, 16 assists – 19 points in 71 games.
With the 89th pick in the draft the Rangers selected Center Alexsi Saarela of Assat in Finland’s Liiga. According to Future Considerations, Saarela, who stands at 5’10” and weighs 190 pounds, has a strong and powerful stride and is a smart and slick offensive playmaker. He also has a strong accurate wrist shot and dangerous one-timer. One of the knocks against his is that he hangs out around the perimeter a little too much. It will be interesting to see if and/or when Saarela put on a Rangers jersey as he sounds like a promising prospect.
Saarela’s stats from last season: 6 goals, 6 assists – 12 points in 51 games
With the 113th pick in the draft, the Rangers selected Center Brad Morrison of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. According to Future Considerations there is a lot to like about the kid. “Morrison’s game revolves around speed as everything he does, he does with pace. He has break-away speed, lightning-quick hands and the ability to process the game at that same speed. It’s also worth noting that Morrison doesn’t play a perimeter game. He drives lanes and goes to tough areas. In doing that he also avoids contact while showing a unique ability to create plays despite immense traffic.” Morrison scored 97 goals in one season while he played Bantam hockey. He is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on.
Morrison’s stats from last season: 23 goals, 27 assists – 50 points in 67 games
With the 119th pick of the draft, the Rangers selected Right Winger Daniel Burnhardt of Djurgarden Jr. of the Sweden Jr. league. Bernhardt, who stands at 6’3” and weighs 191 pounds, is not a small player and with the size he possesses, is definitely worth the 4th round pick the Rangers used on him. Bernhardt has good offensive instincts and it will be interesting to see where he fits down the line within the Rangers organization.
Bernhardt’s stats from last season: 26 goals, 35 assists – 61 points in 44 games
With their final pick in the draft, 184th, the Rangers selected Goaltender Adam Huska of the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. He is seen as a smart athletic goaltender but one that is still a few years away from being NHL ready. He needs time to develop. With a goaltender like Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers can afford to take time to develop goaltending talent.
Huska’s stats from last season – 6 games played, 4.34 GAA, .866 save percentage
After the conclusion of the draft the Rangers traded young forward Ryan Haggerty to the Chicago Blackhawks to for goalie Antti Raanta. Raanta is an established backup goaltender in the NHL who will fit right in with the Rangers after the trade of Cam Talbot. Last season in Chicago, Raanta sported a record of 7 – 4 – 1 and had a 1.89 GAA to go along with a .936 save percentage.