Rangers have only four picks in NHL draft, and none in first round
Starting with the next-to-last selection in the second round, the Rangers have only four picks in the NHL draft, which begins Friday night in Philadelphia.
So the challenge -- similar to last season, when the Rangers had five picks beginning in the third round -- is to fill organizational needs with the 59th (second round), 89th (third), 119th (fourth) and 122nd (fifth) selections, with power forwards and centers believed to be among the targets.
Although coach Alain Vigneault wants to infuse the roster with some youth -- "You have to," he said earlier this month. "Look at the Kings" -- the younger players most likely to be dressing in the 2014-15 season are somewhat familiar faces: forwards J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast, Swedish center Oscar Lindberg and defenseman Conor Allen, all of whom played for the Rangers or Hartford last season.
Four picks in nine rounds isn't ideal, but since March, the Rangers have signed five prospects:
Defenseman Mat Bodie, 24, the captain of the NCAA champion Union Dutchmen, who had eight goals and 39 points in 40 games, the most points of any college defenseman.
Ryan Haggerty, 21, the Stamford, Connecticut, native who had 28 goals and 43 points as a junior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He skated with the taxi squad during the playoffs.
Chris McCarthy, 22, a forward who had 42 points in 38 games for the University of Vermont.
Petr Zamorsky, 21, a Czech defenseman, and Calle Andersson, a Swedish defenseman selected in the fourth round in 2012, also inked deals.
The Rangers have other blueliners in the pipeline: Brady Skjei, 20, their first-rounder in 2012, who played for the U.S. World Junior team and will be a junior at the University of Minnesota, and Ryan Graves, 19, a 6-4, 220-pound stay-at-homer who played in the Quebec Major Junior League last season.
In the last two drafts, the Rangers took left wings, centers, defensemen and a goalie, and a position to fill would be power forward. Three who might be available at No. 59 are Hunter Smith, a right wing who played for Oshawa (OHL); Justin Kirkland, a left wing at Kelowna (OHL), and Connor Chatham, a right wing for Plymouth (OHL).
The Rangers, who are trying to sign their own unrestricted free agents (Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore), have no first-rounder because of the trade in which they acquired Martin St. Louis on March 5. Tampa Bay received a second-round pick, which became a first-rounder when the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference finals.
The fifth-rounder was acquired from Florida for Casey Wellman in 2012. The sixth went to San Jose in the trade for Brandon Mashinter. The seventh went to Los Angeles for Dan Carcillo.