Gorton highlights key young players in the Rangers rebuild

Jeff Gorton (Getty)

Jeff Gorton spoke with MSG’s Stan Fischler recently and cited several young Rangers that he feels will be a major part of the organization’s future for a long time. Below are the players mentioned with my added insights.

Neal Pionk

Pionk, along with fellow defenseman, Ryan Lindgren and forward, Ville Meskanen give Gorton a positive feeling about the direction of the team. Last season, Pionk made an impression after being signed as a free agent out of college. The 22 year old picked up 14 points in 28 games and made the trade of Ryan McDonagh just a little easier. Pionk has top 4 defenseman potential.

Ryan Lindgren

Acquired in the Rick Nash deadline deal, Lindgren is a physical blue-liner that the Rangers desperately need. It will likely take a season or two of AHL seasoning, but Lindgren is projected to be part of the Rangers defense for years to come.

Ville Meskanen

The 22 year old winger from Finland has serious offensive potential. The undrafted free agent has made some noise playing in the the Finnish Elite League leading all players 22 and under in goals and points. He will have a huge opportunity to make it out of camp and is a low risk, high reward signing.

Libor Hajek

Keith Hershmiller Photography

Acquired in the McDonagh deal, Hajek is a defenseman brewing with confidence. According to Gorton he noticed a lot of McDonagh in him, but anyone who has seen highlights sees a lot of offensive upside. In my estimation, Hajek has a boom or bust feel for me. I can see him being the Rangers future offensive stud on the back line or someone we never hear from again in three seasons.

Brett Howden

Howden was also obtained in the McD blockbuster and Gorton is a big fan of the kid. Gorton told Fischler that he is hard nosed player in every way possible and that he loves his game.

“I really like a lot about Howden’s game. He can do a lot of things well; a rangy playmaker with a really good upside.” – Jeff Gorton

Many experts have him as a third line center with great leadership qualities, but others feel he has #2 center potential as well. The Rangers are real deep down the middle now, so this will be interesting to see how it all plays out next year.

Lias Andersson

Andersson (NYR)

Obviously Gorton is very high on Andersson, drafting him 7th overall in 2017. The kid has captain material all over him and he can play center or wing. Andersson at best will be a top 6 forward, most likely a solid two player that should contend for the Selke award yearly. At worst he will be a part of one the best third lines in the NHL for a decade.

Filip Chytil

The kid is really talented and has that same boom or bust feel as Hajek for me. Gorton knows Chytil could be one of the Rangers best offensive players and it will be on coach, David Quinn to help him realize it. “A top six forward in the making” were Gorton’s exact words and he has the size and skill to make it a reality.

Pavel Buchnevich

Pavel Buchnevich (Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the deal, Buchnevich is already good. “He’ll be a top-six forward for a long time and should move from a 43-point season to much more in the future,” Gorton told Fischler. Buchnevich has the skill and the shot to be a point a game player. It will be on Quinn to find him a center to make it happen. My choice would be Mika Zibanejad in the middle with Chris Kreider on the opposite flank. Yes a reuniting of the KZB line is a must and Quinn must let that line’s creative juices flow. 

This is a huge season for Buchnevich and it’s one fans have been hoping for since the day he arrived.

Are you excited about these players? Who excites you the most or least? Let us know in the comments section.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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