It’s pretty amazing when you stop and think about what Jeff Gorton and the Rangers have done regarding the youth on the team and in the organization. While fans hoot and holler about time on ice for current kids in the lineup, there are other teams in the NHL wallowing in the muck for a years wishing they had the Blueshirts problems.
Rangers defense is going to be one of the best in the NHL
What’s truly amazing is the prospect pool on defense; a deep pipeline I’ve learned the Rangers will use this summer to acquire a center via trade. This season we’ve seen the potential of the blue line with Adam Fox taking a huge leap forward in his second season on Broadway garnering Norris Trophy consideration. His defense partner Ryan Lindgren continues to be a stalwart playing against some of the toughest the league has to offer and shutting them down.
Then you have amazing rookie K’Andre Miller who has formed an incredible partnership with veteran Jacob Trouba. You know what’s funny about calling Trouba a veteran? It implies he’s old but in truth he’s just 27 years young. Brendan Smith currently is keeping Nils Lundkvist’s seat warm; while next season’s third left defense spot should be a battle between Libor Hajek (if he’s still here) and Tarmo Reunanen.
However, a quick snapshot of the Rangers prospect pool on defense also has Zach Jones (20 y/o lefty) and recently signed Hunter Skinner (19 y/o righty) – both U.S. born. They may eventually knock on the door. Yet there’s another near future defense pairing playing in the WHL that fans should keep an eye on.
Future Rangers defense: Matthew Robertson and Braden Schneider
Matthew Robertson is a 20 year-old Canadian left handed defenseman the Rangers drafted in the second round of 2019. At 6-4 and 201 lbs he already has the size to play in the NHL. Braden Schneider is another Canadian born defender drafted in the 2020 draft in the first round. The Blueshirts thought so highly of him they tried to move up several times in the to pick him before striking a deal with the Flames to select 19th overall. Adding the 6-2 and 202 lbs righty 19 year-old was a big move. He plays the game mean and was named the captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings to start the year.
This season in the WHL both Robertson and Schneider are both having great campaigns for their respective teams. Last night Robertson established a single game career high with 4 points (1G, 3A). He currently leads the WHL in shots with 51 and in +/- with a +15. He’s tied tied for second in the WHL for points with 12.
Meanwhile, Schneider is also putting up points as he has 10 on the year which is good for 5th in the WHL. He has a +12 rating as well and continues to be very difficult to play against. It’s not hard to see both of these draft gems paired on the Rangers blue-line at some point. More importantly; especially in the flat cap era where players could price themselves off the team it’s imperative to have this kind of a pipeline.
The Rangers are building right and their defense is shaping up to be one of the best in the NHL. It could also possibly the best group of six the franchise has ever seen.
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