Ranking New York Rangers top NHL ready prospects

new york rangers vitali kravtsov
Apr 6, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Vitali Kravtsov #74 of the New York Rangers is checked by Marcus Pettersson #28 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at Madison Square Garden on April 06, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers will be looking to fill out some key spots in their lineup next season with low-cost, high-reward talent due to salary cap constraints.

Free agency brought that stark reality to life when they let all their unrestricted free agents walk. Ryan Strome, Andrew Copp, Frank Vatrano, Justin Braun, and very likely Tyler Motte will not be wearing Rangers’ blue next season.

Instead, they went for an upgrade at the second line center position with Vincent Trocheck and signed Jaroslav Halak to be the new backup. They even traded away Patrik Nemeth’s $2.5M cap hit away to make sure they can re-sign Kaapo Kakko and leave some space for trade deadline acquisitions.

In 2022-23, the Rangers will need a defense partner for Braden Schneider on the third pairing, plus forward replacements for those free agents that walked.

Let’s dive into the team’s most NHL ready prospects.

Ranking New York Rangers NHL ready prospects

Below are my top 10 rankings for the New York Rangers by NHL readiness.

In order to be considered for this list, the player must not have been part of the active roster used during the playoffs.

RankPlayerPOSAGESTATUS/AAV
1Zac JonesD211 YEAR/$925K
2Vitali KravtsovRW221 YEAR/$875K
3Nils LundkvistD212 YEARS/$925K
4Matthew RobertsonD212 YEARS/$797K
5Will CuylleF203 YEARS/$828K
6Brennan OthmannF193 YEARS/$894K
7Bobby TrivignoF232 YEARS/$925K
8Gustav RydahlC271 YEAR/$750K
9Lauri PajuniemiF221 YEAR/$883K
10Brett BerardF19UNSIGNED
New York Rangers prospects

Analyzing Rangers prospects NHL readiness

New York Rangers Brennan Othmann
Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Rangers Training facility in Tarrytown July 12, 2022. Credit: © Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Can Play Next Season

Zac Jones: Without a doubt, he is the most NHL ready prospect thanks to his experience with the big club and an excellent hockey IQ. He led all Wolf Pack blue-liners last year with 9 goals and 35 points in 52 games. He was also called up a few times by the Rangers adding 2 assists in 12 games. For his NHL career, Jones has 6 points (all assists) in 22 contests.

Vitali Kravtsov: The former first round selection, 9th overall, from 2018 was expected to be traded last year after refusing AHL assignment and bolting for Russia. However, the salary cap crunch can change a lot of opinions and the Rangers need his offensive talent on the third line. Kravtsov had a strong 2021-22 season in the KHL by recording 6 goals and 13 points in 19 matches. During the playoffs, he added 7 goals and 10 points in 15 games.

Nils Lundkvist: The 21 year-old defenseman struggled to adjust coming over from Sweden but still showed enough skill as to why he was taken in the first round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. In 25 games with the Rangers, he posted 1 goal and 4 points last year. He picked up an additional 15 points in 34 games with the Wolf Pack in the AHL. After adjusting to the North American style of play, he could be a factor next season. The question is can he make the switch to the left side?

Borderline Ready

Matthew Robertson: He’s a left handed defenseman that the New York Rangers selected in the second round of the 2019 Draft. At 6-4 and 201 lbs, he already has the size to play in the NHL but has taken a little more time to develop than some of the other prospects on the blue-line. Last year, he posted 11 points in 65 games for the Wolf Pack. His familiarity with Braden Schneider as a defense partner could give him an edge.

Will Cuylle: In 2021, the 6-3, 212 lbs forward was invited to Rangers camp and impressed management. He was still cut but that may not be the case this time around. In 50 regular-season games in the OHL, he posted 43 goals and 80 points. Cuylle added another 15 goals and 31 points in 25 playoff games. The second round pick from the 2020 Draft looks physically ready to be a force in the NHL soon.

Brennan Othmann: He’s strongly considered one of the New York Rangers’ top prospects. The 19 year-old was selected in the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft 16th overall and has done nothing but stand out since. In 66 regular games, he posted 50 goals and 97 points and then added 9 goals and 24 points in 19 postseason contests. There’s no doubt that he will be an NHL player, but does it make sense to play a future top-six winger on the fourth line?

Bobby Trivigno: He was a late signing out of college and after a successful college career where he won the NCAA National Championship in 2021, he’s gained a reputation as a clutch performer. Last year, he scored 49 points with 20 goals for UMass earning himself College Hockey News’ Player of the Year Award. In limited action with the Wolf Pack, he scored a goal and added two assists in 11 contests. He has his list of doubters thanks to his 5-8, 161 lbs frame, but he also has the heart and smarts to play in the NHL.

Outside shot

Gustav Rydahl: At 27 years-old it’s hard to consider him a prospect. Rydahl is a big forward at 6-3, 201 lbs that can also play center. Signed as a free agent out of Sweden, he scored 30 points in 44 SHL games. Expect him to start the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack after the Rangers signed veteran pivot Ryan Carpenter recently. However, keep an eye on Rydahl as someone who could surprise at camp.

Lauri Pajuniemi: Taken by the Blueshirts in the fifth round of the 2018 Draft, they thought highly enough of the forward to at least place him on the taxi squad last year. This past season in the AHL, he scored 13 goals and 26 points in 51 games for the Wolf Pack. It’s getting close to now or never for the young Finn to make the NHL.

Brett Berard: The Rangers selected Berard in the 5th round of the 2020 Draft. He’s fast and feisty but a bit undersized at 5-9, 154 lbs. Berard has yet to sign his ELC and will be entering his junior year at Providence College. He registered 38 points in 36 games last season. Could he make an impact for the big club at some point over the next two seasons?

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