New York Rangers best Fifth Round draft picks of all-time

NHL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have selected 556 players to date at the annual NHL Entry Draft, which began in 1963. Forever Blueshirts continues its series of articles looking at the franchise’s best picks from rounds 1 through 7.

Historically, New York has drafted 62 players in the fifth round, with 19 appearing in an NHL game and 12 suiting up for the Blueshirts. Interestingly, the club’s first sixth-round pick was Gord Smith (59th overall) in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft, and their most recent ones are Dylan Roobroeck (178th overall) and Ty Henricks (183rd overall) in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

Join us each week to see who makes the cut.

Exclusive: Neil Smith reveals why he traded Sergei Zubov

Note: Dates and statistics from Hockey-Reference.com and EliteProspects.com were used to compile this list

Top New York Rangers Draft Picks From Round 5

NHL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY NETWORK

5. Scot Kleinedorst – 98th Overall 1980

NHL stats: 836 GP – 89 G – 328 A – 417 Pts

New York stats: Never played

After playing with Grand Rapids High and graduating to play with Providence College in 1978, the Rangers drafted Scot Kleinendorst with the 98th pick in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. Upon finishing his NCAA career, which included First (1982) and Second (1980) Team All-Star honors, he would make his NHL debut during the 1982-83 season.

Although his tenure on Broadway was short, just 53 games, the Rangers dealt Kleinendorst to the Hartford Whalers for Blaine Stoughton on Feb. 27, 1984, where he would skate the next five seasons. Eventually, he was traded to the Washington Capitals in 1989, suiting up for just 18 games with the club before leaving the NHL and professional hockey in 1990.

4. Gord Smith – 59th Overall 1969

NHL stats: 299 GP – 9 G – 30 A – 39 Pts

New York stats: Never played

The Rangers used their first-ever fifth-round selection (59th overall) on Gord Smith, who would never skate with the club, opting instead to sign as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings in 1970. However, he did play with the Capitals and Winnipeg Jets from 1974 to 1980, netting 39 points in 299 games while collecting 284 penalty minutes and finishing his career with a plus/minus rating of minus-141.

While an NHL prospect, Smith began playing in the AHL, where he had more success, posting 172 points in 418 games with 632 penalty minutes and winning the Eddie Shore Award as the league’s best defenseman in 1974. Besides earning First Team (1974) and Second Team (1975) All-Star honors, he was an EHL First Team All-Star with the New Haven Blades in 1971 and 1972.

By 1983, Smith was retired from pro hockey, last skating with the Maine Mariners while making a brief appearance as head coach of the Solent Vikings in the Swiss League in 1991.

3. Nigel Dawes – 149th Overall 2003

NHL stats: 212 GP – 39 G – 45 A – 84 Pts

New York stats: 121 GP – 25 G – 24 A – 49 Pts

Nigel Dawes became a prospect of the Rangers through the 2003 NHL Entry Draft when they selected him with the 149th pick. At 21, he made his NHL debut and skated with the Blueshirts for three years, collecting 49 points in 121 games.

Eventually, New York dealt him to the Phoenix Coyotes on Mar. 4, 2009, with Dmitri Kalinin and Petr Prucha for Derek Morris. After just 12 games in the desert, he moved on to the Calgary Flames before finishing his NHL days split between the Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens in 2010-11.

Once Dawes left North America, he had an illustrious career in Russia and Europe, becoming a six-time All-Star in the KHL. Besides his accomplishments in the foreign leagues, he won a Bronze Medal at the 2017 World Championship (D1A) tournament and a Top 3 Player on Team award at the 2016 event to add to his U20 World Junior Championship Silver (2004) and Gold Medals (2005).

Of all the players on this list, Dawes is the only skater who recently played professional hockey, suiting up with Adler Mannheim in the DEL for the 2022-23 season.

2. Aaron Miller – 88th Overall 1989

NHL stats: 677 GP – 25 G – 94 A – 119 Pts

New York stats: Never played

The Rangers drafted Aaron Miller with the 88th pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, and the young prospect, who starred at the University of Vermont, never played for the franchise after the Jan. 17, 1991, trade with the Quebec Nordiques. Interestingly, New York dealt him away with a fifth-round pick in the NHL draft, which turned out to be Bill Lindsay, in exchange for Joe Cirella, who would play 141 contests for the Rangers.

Interestingly, Miller would not play enough games for the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, when the franchise won the Stanley Cup. He then missed out on the club’s second championship in 2001 when the club dealt him to the Kings in the Rob Blake megadeal in February 2001. Despite missing out on those opportunities, Miller was a member of Team USA, which walked away with a Silver Medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

After six seasons in Hollywood, Miller signed with the Vancouver Canucks, where he played 57 games before retiring from the NHL in 2008. Besides the Olympic medal, he also won a Bronze Medal at the 2004 World Championships, earning a Top 3 Player on Team award.

1. Sergei Zubov – 85th Overall 1990

NHL stats: 1,068 GP – 152 G – 619 A – 771 Pts

New York stats: 165 GP – 30 G – 126 A – 156 Pts

Although Sergei Zubov never won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman, he was considered one of the best defenders during his era, earning votes for the award in 12 of his 16 seasons. Besides missing out on those accolades, he was a three-time All-Star, earning postseason NHL All-Star Team honors (2nd team) in 2005-06 at 35.

Initially drafted by the Rangers in 1990, he was just 23 in 1993-94 when he won the Stanley Cup for the first time, contributing 19 points in 22 playoff games when New York ended a 54-year championship drought. However, after three seasons on Broadway, the team traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins (with Petr Nedved) in exchange for Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson on Aug. 31, 1995.

After just one season with the Penguins, where he tallied 66 points in 64 games, the team dealt him to the Dallas Stars (for Derian Hatcher), where he would spend the final 12 years of his career, winning another Stanley Cup in 1999. Although his NHL career came to an end after the 2008-09 season, Zubov skated one year in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg, where he won the league’s Best Defenseman award, played in the KHL All-Star Game, and earned First Team All-Star honors.

Besides his accomplishments in the NHL and KHL, he won a Gold (1989) and Silver Medal (1990) at the U20 World Junior Championships, plus an Olympic Gold Medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics while capturing the Spengler Cup the same year. Recently, in 2020, Zubov entered the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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