DALLAS — The Rangers continued to confound observers and confuse their fans on Day 2 of the NHL Draft Saturday. With their second round pick, No. 39 overall, they chose goaltender Olof Lindbom, the fifth-rated European goaltender according to the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau rankings, and a player many had not heard of in the leadup to the draft.
They chose another Swede, defenseman Jacob Ragnarsson, a 6-foot, 176-pounder, with their first of two third-round picks, No. 70 overall, and followed that with another defenseman, Joey Keane, of the OHL’s Barrie Colts with their other third-rounder.
The parade of defensemen continued in the fourth round, when the Rangers took Nico Gross, of Oshawa of the OHL.
The morning after having surprised many by taking Russian winger Vitali Kravtsov with the first of their three first-round picks, and taking Swedish defenseman Nils Lundkvist with the third first-rounder, the Rangers went off the board again to select Lindbom, a Stockholm native who plays for Djurgarden’s Junior team in the Swedish U20 league.
Lindbom was named the top goaltender at the World Junior U18 Championship tournament, in Russia, but with Henrik Lundqvist still in place with the Rangers, Russian prospect Igor Shestyorkin entering what could be his final year in the KHL and Russian find Alexandar Georgiev in the mix for the spot to back up Lundqvist this season, goaltender is one position the Rangers did not seem to have a need for.
But ever since announcing in February that they would be starting the process of rebuilding, the Rangers have made it clear they are playing the long game, and they appear more intent to stockpile prospects with no pressure to rush them to the NHL. Besides Kravtsov, who has one year remaining on his KHL contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk, and Lundkvist, a 5-11, two-way defenseman, the Rangers used their second first-round pick Friday night and their second second-round pick Saturday to trade up Friday night and take defenseman K’Andre Miller, an athletic Minnesotan who switched to defense three seasons ago and is committed to play college hockey in the fall at the University of Wisconsin.