With the season now over a week old, it’s time for Blueshirt fans to move forward. As tough as it is, the Rangers fell short of delivering the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 21 years.
As we draw closer to the NHL Draft, it’s an unfriendly reminder that current general manager Glen Sather (at least for now) sacrificed our first round pick to the Lightning as part of the Martin St. Louis trade. At least they’ll get a second round pick back due to Tampa re-signing Ryan Callahan. In a deep draft, they can still get someone decent. Even if that pick won’t be until very late in Round 2, the organization has proven it can find steals. They’ll have to do it again.
Editor’s Note: Due to the Keith Yandle trade, it isn’t known which second round pick the Rangers have.
As recently as 2014, they did well selecting American goalie Brandon Halverson in the second round 59th overall. The 19-year old posted a 40-5-2 record with a 2.63 goals-against-average, .913 save percentage and six shutouts playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. A talented roster that featured prospects Anthony DeAngelo (Bolts), Sergey Tolchinsky (Canes), Nick Ritchie (Ducks) and Justin Bailey (Sabres). Halverson also represented Team USA at the Under 20 World Junior Championship making one start- a 14-save shutout in a 6-0 win over Germany.
Along with Russian prospect Igor Shestyorkin who the club stole in the fourth round of last year’s draft 118th overall, the future in net looks promising. Shestyorkin was a standout for Russia in the WJC posting a 1.98 GAA and .938 save percentage in five starts. He went 3-0-3 with a 2.33 GAA and .917 save percentage in six games for St. Petersburg SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Shestyorkin is one of two fourth round picks the Rangers selected as part of a trade down with the Capitals for their third round pick (Nathan Walker) last year. They also grabbed defenseman Ryan Mantha. The younger brother of Red Wings’ prospect Anthony Mantha. In his first year with the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League, the former USHL prospect registered 10 goals and 15 assists with 45 penalty minutes and a plus-21 rating in 52 contests. He added a goal and five helpers in the playoffs.
Third round pick Keegan Iverson came back in exchange for valuable fourth line winger Derek Dorsett who had a good year with the Canucks helping them return to the postseason. Iverson plays for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. His numbers weren’t earth shattering dropping from 22 goals to 15 with 24 helpers and 91 PIM while adding two goals and seven assists in the playoffs. Hopefully, he’ll pan out.
While it doesn’t look like they did too badly last June, the Rangers have to be excited with the 2013 Draft. In a year where they didn’t have a first or second round pick with the Blue Jackets getting the first rounder (Kerby Rychel) as part of a blockbuster deal for Rick Nash, they were able to do well with a third round pick turning into Pavel Buchnevich.
The 75th overall selection recently starred for Russia at the WJC tallying a goal and five assists in seven games. He also had a breakout year for Cherepovets Severstal of the KHL posting 13 goals and 17 assists in 48 contests. A talented forward with great skill, the 20-year old Buchnevich still feels he needs another year before coming over. He re-signed with Cherepovets Severstal agreeing to a one-year deal. Blueshirt fans will have to be patient.
Another third round pick whose stock rose was Anthony Duclair. Selected number 80 by the Rangers, the diminutive forward impressed coach Alain Vigneault enough to keep him up with the big club. A very skilled player who has great offensive instincts, Duclair got into 18 NHL games registering a goal and six helpers before the organization loaned him to Canada for the WJC. Nicknamed Duke, he put on a show tallying four goals and four assists in helping Canada win gold. Playing on a line with Coyotes’ stud prospect Max Domi, Duclair performed well setting the tone in their gold medal win over Russia by scoring on the first shift.
An exciting player who concluded the year with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league tallying 26 points in 22 postseason contests while going 2-2-4 in the Memorial Cup, Duclair was dealt to the Coyotes along with John Moore, a 2015 second round pick and a lottery protected 2016 first round pick for Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a 2016 fourth round pick. The rationale behind the trade was simple. The Rangers were going for it and needed a offensive defenseman who could aid the power play. The 28-year old Yandle tallied seven of his 11 points in the third round against Tampa. He’s signed one more year with the Coyotes picking up $3 million of his remaining salary ($5.75 million). Whoever is GM, there’ll be pressure to re-sign him the following summer. Otherwise, they’ll have nothing to show for Duclair, who could be a future star. It would help if they won a championship.
Even with Duclair gone, the remaining four players they took in 2013 make it a strong draft. Third round pick Adam Tambellini had a big year for the Calgary Hitmen (WHL) scoring 47 goals with 39 assists along with a plus-43 in 71 games. The 20-year old Edmonton native followed that up with a big postseason registering 13 goals and 13 helpers in 16 games. Listed at 6-3, 191 pounds, Tambellini is a left-handed center with size. With the team already locked into Derick Brassard and getting ready to re-sign Derek Stepan while getting a good first year out of Kevin Hayes, perhaps he shifts to the wing. Hayes isn’t a natural center either. Tambellini is signed and probably will start in Hartford this Fall.
The remaining two picks from that draft also are worth following. Already, we got a taste of sixth round pick Mackenzie Skapski with the 20-year old posting two wins in two starts allowing just one goal against the Sabres. Unfortunately, he’ll be out for the start of the AHL season recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right hip due to a labral tear. He had a good first pro season with the Wolf Pack winning 15 games with a 2.40 GAA, .914 save percentage and three shutouts in 28 contests. Ironically, he was born a day after the Rangers last won the Cup. If the club does move backup Cam Talbot at some point, Skapski could find himself on Broadway. However, who knows when especially after surgery.
Defenseman Ryan Graves was taken in the fourth round 110th overall. He’s the other D prospect in the system. With much of the discussion centered around Brady Skjei who finally turned pro debuting with the Wolf Pack, the recently turned 20-year old Graves has flown under the radar. The 6-5, 215 pound blueliner put together a big season playing alongside Duclair for the Remparts posting 15 goals and 24 assists in 50 games. Graves also was productive in the postseason with five goals and six helpers in 21 games. For his size, he’s a solid skater who can also defend well. It’s nice to know that the Rangers have another defenseman who could be part of the future.
Overall, the 2013 Draft has the potential of a big winner. Even after parting with Duclair, the Blueshirts should be pleased with the progress of remaining four prospects Buchnevich, Tambellini, Skapski and Graves. Indeed, there’s a lot to look forward to.