Experts praise Rangers first-round selection of EJ Emery in 2024 NHL Draft

NHL: NHL Draft
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It’d appear that the New York Rangers are receiving positive reviews for selecting defenseman EJ Emery with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft on Friday.

The 18-year-old who’s committed to North Dakota University was expected to be selected in the late first or early second round, as noted by Forever Blueshirts prospects expert Alan Selavka in his final pre-draft story. That’s exactly where the right-shot stay-at-home defender landed when the Rangers snagged him at No. 30.

ESPN ranked him as the second-best player available at the time of his selection, and experts seem to agree that the Blueshirts got solid value late in the first round.

Though Emery lacks the offensive spark that would make him a premiere pick, analysts praise him as a shutdown defenseman with good technique and strong physical traits. draft expert Adam Kimelman called Emery a “model of consistency.”

“He might not be a big offensive contributor at the NHL level, but his skating, reach, work ethic and athleticism has the chance to give him a long, successful professional career as a top-four defenseman, likely as the defensive-minded complement to a team’s top offensive-mind defenseman,” Kimelman wrote.

Emery is extremely athletic, like his NHL role model K’Andre Miller, and recorded a 27.23 inch vertical jump that ranked first among all prospects at the NHL combine. He’s also a plus skater with good reach.

Corey Pronman of The Athletic graded the Emery pick a B for the Rangers.

“He can project to play in the NHL as a 4/5 D whom coaches love, and his elite athleticism gives him some upside to be better than that if he really hits,” Pronman wrote in his analysis.

Related: Rangers first-round pick EJ Emery models game after K’Andre Miller

Rangers top pick EJ Emery lauded as excellent defensive defenseman

Photo: Jim Cerny

Steven Ellis of Daily Faceoff praised him as one of the best defensive defenseman in the entire draft.

USA Today’s Vince Mercogliano outlined him as a potential target for the Blueshirts in his draft preview, noting his connection to the U.S. National Team Development Program, which also produced Rangers prospects Gabe Perrault and Drew Fortescue in last year’s draft and others before them, including Miller.

“Emery would probably crack the top 20 if he’d produced more than 16 assists in 61 games last season,” Mercogliano noted. “But if by chance he’s available at No. 30, then he feels like a slam-dunk pick.”

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan made the Miller comparison, which Emery himself echoed.

Rangers director of player personnel and amateur scouting John Lilley emphasized that Emery needs time to work on his game and grow physically. He added “there’s no rush with him.”

The consensus sit that’s a good plan, especially noting the difference in that Emery is a late-round pick without the pressure to play sooner rather than later like a top-5 selection, for example, which is something Lilley pointed out.

So, Emery won’t be seen on Broadway for a bit, but early analysis across the League is that the Rangers made a strong pick at the tail end of this year’s opening round of the draft.

Lou Orlando has spent the past two seasons as a New York Rangers beat reporter for WFUV Sports. The... More about Lou Orlando

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