Analyzing the Rangers First Round draft picks

Kravtsov(Getty Images)

The first round of the NHL draft was a whirlwind to be sure. To be honest, I needed a night to digest the moves the New York Rangers made on day one of the draft because there was a lot to take in. They went off board with their first selection and had redeemed themselves a bit with their bottom two selections at 22 and 28. Let’s take a look at three kids who joined the Rangers organization last night.

9th overall – Vitali Kravtsov – Traktor Chelyabinsk – RW – 6’4” – 183 pounds

Kravtsov (NYR)

This pick has been extremely controversial among the Rangers fan base. From the draft party where apparently there was dead silence, to Twitter where people defended it and some we’re absolutely irate, the reactions to this pick were extremely varied. Were those reaction warranted? Well to be honest we don’t know how good Kravtsov is going to be. If you watch highlights from this kid it looks like he has the hands and skill to be a top-line winger in this league. He could even be here next year if he makes the team out of camp. Kravtsov, if he pans out the way management thinks, can be a dynamic offensive player for this team for a lot of years and you can’t teach size so he has that working for him.

From Elite Prospects: A big, skilled winger that can play up and down the lineup and provide scoring in a number of roles. He brings grit and physical size, but could be more assertive in throwing his weight around more. Displays excellent speed on the rush and in zone entry, but could backcheck quicker. Plays well in his own end and takes away lanes. Very good hands and awareness. Kravtsov has the potential to develop into a staple top six forward that can produce at the next level. [EP]

Kravstsov was the winner of the Alexei Cherepanov award (Best Rookie) in the KHL this season and he also won rookie of the week three times during the Gagarin Cup playoffs. That’s all very promising because teenagers have to usually fight tooth and nail for their ice time in the KHL. The fact that he was named rookie of the week in the playoffs is even more impressive because that means he was doing a great job against the best teams in the league.

The thing that bothers me and others with this pick is that Oliver Wahlstrom was available and the team decided against him. Apparently Kravtsov has been their second highest rated forward since earlier this year. Now, I would absolutely love if this kid proved me and all the doubters wrong but was Wahlstrom really worth passing up? We’ll know in the upcoming years but apparently the Rangers liked something they saw in Kravtsov to take him over Wahlstrom and his 48 goals last season.

22nd overall – K’Andre Miller – D – USNTDP – USDP – 6’5” – 205 pounds

Miller (USA Hockey)

This was an absolutely amazing pick for the Rangers. After the controversy of the 9th overall pick, the Rangers made one of their best decisions at the draft in year by taking this massive, smooth-skating blueliner from the US National Development Program. I was very impressed with this pick and I was happy the Rangers traded up with the Ottawa Senators to get this pick.

Miller has one of the highest ceilings in this draft. He’s a converted forward and only began playing defense about two seasons ago full-time. With his size and skating ability, it’s going to be worth the wait to see this on Broadway. As I stated in my mock draft, he could end up being the best skating North American defenseman in this draft.

Miller is dedicated to the University of Wisconsin next season where he will develop his game further and hopefully, be on track to join the Rangers sooner rather than later. Whereas the Kravtsov pick has me and others a little worried, this pick was a homerun through and through. Massive ceiling, massive potential and the possibility to be a top two defenseman for the team for years to come. Miller is a great addition to the pipeline.

McKeen’s Hockey on Miller: Miller is rawer than some of the other available defenders, but his upside is through the roof. Still somewhat new to the position, with high end athleticism and uncanny reads. He will need time with the Wisconsin Badgers, but could be a game changer within a few years. (McKeens)

28th Overall – Nils Lundkvist – D – Lulea HF – SHL – 5’11” – 172 pounds

Lundkvist is a puck-moving two-way defensemen on the smaller side. He likes to join the rush and has nice vision. He was also one of the highest risers in this entire draft class. Also not to be understated is the Rangers now has Lundqvist, Lindqvist and Lundkvist. Have fun with this in a couple seasons Sam Rosen.

Lundkvist made an impression in the SHL at just 17 years old and that’s incredible. Like Kravtsov before him, he was impressing in a men’s league as a teenager. Although he may need another year or two to develop in the SHL, Lundkvist could prove to be a key part of the blueline on broadway in the just a few years.

From Sportsnet’s Emily Sadler: Lundkvist may not be the biggest blue liner on his future NHL team’s roster, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in smarts. He’s efficient with the puck, a skill he honed while playing amongst men as a 17-year-old in Sweden’s top league.

In fact, he got plenty of opportunity to develop as a rookie with Lulea, quickly earning the coach’s trust as a regular rearguard on the rotation. His 16 minutes of playing time per game was third among his fellow teenage peers — of all SHL defencemen under 20 years old, only Dahlin and 2017 first rounder Erik Brännström saw more ice time than Lundkvist. (Sadler, Sportsnet)

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