This is all a crapshoot, of course. Entering the 2018 NHL Draft this weekend in Dallas, the Rangers have three first-round picks, the result of some aggressive wheeling and dealing at last season’s trade deadline. Odds are, they won’t be making all of those picks, though, and instead will be looking into whether they can deal some assets to move higher in the selection order, or get proven players who can help the club immediately.
If they do end up making all their picks — at 9, 26 and 28 — here’s a look at five players the Rangers might be interested in drafting at No. 9 if they still are on the board.
He’s 6-3, 192 pounds, plays a physical game and is a good passer. And he has great NHL bloodlines (his dad, Keith, is a U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer who scored more than 500 goals and 1,000 points in an 18-year NHL career, and his brother, Matthew, is a third-year forward for the Calgary Flames). And, of course, he played at Boston University for current Rangers coach David Quinn. He probably won’t be there at No. 9, but if he slips past Montreal at No. 3, maybe the Blueshirts could trade up to get him?
He’s a pure scorer — 22 goals and 23 assists in 26 USHL games, and seven goals in seven games in the U18 Worlds. The Yarmouth, Maine, native is set to head off to Boston College next season, but even if he does, he might be worth waiting for.
After all the trades they made at the deadline, the Rangers actually have a nice young stable of defense prospects, but if Bouchard, the Oakville, Ontario, native, is there at No. 9, he’d be hard to pass up. He’s big (6-2, 196), he’s a righthanded shot, which is appealing, and he was the leading scorer among defensemen in the Canadian Hockey League, with 25 goals and 87 points, which also led his London Knights team.
He might have been a legitimate target at one time, but he’s been rising rapidly up draft boards of late, so it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be there at No. 9. A 6-2, 181-pound center, he scored 10 goals and had 29 points in 57 games in the Finnish First Division, and he was the best player on the Finland team that won the World Junior U18 Championship.
A 6-3, 177-pound defenseman from Prince Edward Island, he led Acadie-Bathurst Titan to the Memorial Cup title this season, putting up 17 goals and 69 points in the regular season, then adding 20 points in 24 games in the QMJHL and Memorial Cup playoffs. He’d make a fine addition to the young defense corps the Rangers are building.