The New York Rangers are an organization seeking excellence in putting together an elite team for the upcoming 2018-19 rebuild season. The entry level draft occurred at the American Airlines Center in Dallas the weekend of June 22-23rd. Every year, the Rangers organization looks to add new talent to their roster during the NHL Draft hoping to acquire a solid star like Brian Leetch. Over the years, the Rangers have had some of the best draft picks accompanied with some of the worst. Let’s take a look back at the best and worst picks by our adored franchise over the years.
Top 5 Worst Picks
5. Jamie Lundmark: Round 1, Pick 9th in 1999
Lundmark was identified as one of the most explosive players in the 1999 NHL Draft when he was headed to the Rangers. Lundmark had skills that would have made him an ideal Center for the Rangers long term. However he had trouble being consistent. Lundmark scored 30 points in 114 games as Blueshirt from 2002 to the 2005-06 season. He experienced the shift in atmospheres from the NHL to AHL for approximately three seasons before being traded to the Coyotes. It’s too bad Lundmark couldn’t have blossomed as an elite player with the Blueshirts given his skills and capabilities since he showed promise before the pressure to perform affected him.
4. Dan Blackburn: Round 1, Pick 10th overall in 2001
There were many expectations for Blackburn’s potential during his first season with the Rangers in 2001-02 season. He had been briefly compared to Mike Richter early on in his career with the hopes of being the next idolized Rangers goalie. Unfortunately, Blackburn did not satisfy or reach those expectations from his inability to stay sharp for the duration of the game and making mental mistakes. To add, Blackburn was forced to retire early as a result of a shoulder injury which eventually led to more disappointment for this first round pick.
3. Dylan McIlrath: Round 1, Pick 10th in 2010
McIlrath will be known as the enforcer who was drafted for John Tortorella only to be discarded by Alain Vigneault. He had the drive to compete for the Rangers however, he would fall short of being proactive on the ice without obtaining penalties. He was idolized for his quickness to drop the gloves but highly criticized for his playing style. It was disappointing to not see him develop into a player with promise for the future with the Blueshirts. The reason he is so high on this list is that the Rangers passed over Vlad Tarasenko in order to draft him.
2. Hugh Jessiman: Round 1, Pick 12th in 2003
Hugh Jessiman only played 2 games in the NHL, and that was for the Panthers in 2011. Jessiman struggled to make a name for himself and to keep up with the pace in the AHL since he was drafted. Jessiman was drafted by the Rangers for being a NY native and for his size.The belief at that time in the NHL was bigger is better. His 6’6″ and 234 lbs frame earned him the nickname, “Huge Specimen” but that’s about all he is known for. This pick was an absolute bust for the Rangers.
1. Pavel Brendl: Round 1, Pick 4th in 1999
The 1999 NHL draft had to be one of the top reasons for GM, Neil Smith’s eventual firing in 2000. New York had an abysmal season and with looking for a quick turnaround as they had 2 picks in the top 10 of the draft (4 and 9). We already discussed Lundmark, but Pavel Brendl never played a game for the Rangers and was selected 4th overall. Brendl represents the only top 5 first round pick for the Rangers since they selected Brad Park 2nd overall in 1966. As for his career, he scored a total of 22 points in 78 games.
Top 5 Best Picks
5. Derek Stepan: Round 2, Pick 21st (51stoverall) in 2008
Since his NHL debut in 2010, Derek Stepan made a name for himself on the ice from his regular contribution to the Blueshirts. During the seven seasons as a Blueshirt, he had acquired 360 points out of 515 games. He had a level of consistency needed from his position that is missed from Rangerstown given its overlooked consensus when he was a Ranger.
4. Dominic Moore: Round 3, Pick 30th (95thoverall) in 2000
Dominic Moore showed some promise in his rookie appearances for the Rangers in 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons. Within his first two seasons, he acquired 21 points in 87 games. When Moore became a Blueshirt again in 2013, he had a new mission of performing to the utmost standard with making meaningful contribution to the team’s performance during regular season and post season. Throughout his career, Moore has become one of NHL’s most valuable checking forwards to have played for several teams as he perfected his craft since his NHL career start with the Rangers.
3. Chris Kreider: Round 1, Pick 19th in 2009
Kreider first had the attention of the Rangers from his athleticism and recognition for his contributions to Boston College’s hockey team. He has continued to offer the same perks that made him eye-catching as a powerful forward for the Rangers with his speed and game-breaking skill. Kreider still has the fight that attracted the Rangers in 2009 up to this recent season. I cannot wait to see what else he has in store for the future.
2. Jesper Fast: Round 6, Pick 7th (157thoverall) in 2010
Fast has been the most overlooked player on the Rangers roster who has proven his ability to be consistent and has a strong presence on the team. He is a well-rounded player that seeks to contribute as much as possible in any capacity the coach needs of him. Fast is underrated for his abilities but has proven to be an excellent pick made by the Rangers in 2010.
1. Henrik Lundqvist: Round 7, Pick 25th in 2000
The King of New York! Our beloved goalie is by far one of the greatest picks chosen by the New York Rangers organization. He has been the backbone of the Blueshirts since 2006 and has been the man to make 7 consecutive post season appearances up to last year. Henrik has made history over the last twelve years and will continue to do so until it’s his time to retire. All hail the King!
NHL Draft Feels
This recent NHL Draft had a mixed of emotions with the new additions of players whom are greatly expected to provide value to our organization in the near future. I look forward to seeing what the new kids on the block have to offer to our team and the successes they’ll bring. Which picks were favorable or unfavorable in your book, past or present?
(*) Statistics used were from the Hockey Reference Website and NHL Player Profiles.