Rangers 2022 draft class graduated four players to Wolf Pack this season

Adam Sykora
Credit: Hartford Wolf Pack

The New York Rangers made six selections in the 2022 NHL Draft. And though they didn’t have a first-round pick, this draft class is maturing quickly, with four members graduating to the Hartford Wolf Pack in the American Hockey League this past season.

The Rangers did not have a first-round pick in 2022 as a result of a trade on March 21, 2022, when they acquired Andrew Copp and a sixth-round pick in 2023 from the Winnipeg Jets for Morgan Barron, a conditional second-round pick in 2022, a fifth-round pick in 2023, and a conditional pick. The condition being that Winnipeg would receive New York’s first-round pick in 2022 if the Rangers advanced to the 2022 Eastern Conference Final and Copp played in 50 percent of their playoff games.

With the conditions being met, the pick was converted after the Rangers lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games in the conference final. The Rangers drafted Dylan Roobroeck No. 178 overall with the 2023 sixth-round pick they received in the trade.

Winnipeg selected Brad Lambert No. 30 overall, and Elias Salomonsson at 55th overall in the second round in 2022. The Jets selected Thomas Milic at 151st overall in the fifth round of the 2023 draft.

Just two seasons after that 2022 draft, the Rangers saw four of their picks play in the AHL for all or part of the 2023-24 season: Adam Sykora, Bryce McConell-Barker, Victor Mancini and Maxim Barbashev. That’s a solid graduation rate, especially considering the lack of a first-round selection that year.

Related: Here’s what’s next for Kaapo Kakko, Rangers after 1-year contract agreement

How Rangers picks from 2022 NHL Draft are progressing

With the 2024 NHL Draft to take place June 28-29 at the Sphere in Las Vegas, let’s look back at Rangers’ selections from the 2022 draft and asses how each prospect is progressing.

Adam Sykora (No. 63 overall)

The Rangers selected Adam Sykora of HK Nitra No. 63 overall in the second round and signed the two-way forward to an entry-level contract just over a week later on the final day of prospect camp. Sykora was loaned back to HK Nitra of the Slovak Extraliga, where he had eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points in 38 regular-season games in 2022-23. As a member of Slovakia in the World Junior Championships, Sykora scored one goal in five games as the team went on to finish sixth in the tournament. He scored one goal and had three assists in eight playoff games for Nitra before joining the Hartford Wolf Pack, where he recorded his first AHL point (an assist) and skated in four games during the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. As a regular with the Wolf Pack this past season, Sykora recorded eight goals and 15 assists in 68 regular season to finish tied for ninth on the team in scoring. The 19-year-old was assessed only two minor penalties and four penalty minutes in 2023-24, and he added three assists in 10 playoff games. He captained Slovakia at the 2024 WJC, scoring one goal with one assist in five games as they once again finished sixth.

Bryce McConnell-Barker (No. 97)

Bryce McConnell-Barker
Credit: Hartford Wolf Pack

In the third round, New York selected Bryce McConnell-Barker 97th overall with a pick they acquired from the Colorado Avalanche as the result of a trade on July 7, 2022 which sent Alexandar Georgiev to Colorado in exchange for a third-round pick in 2023, a fifth-round pick in 2022 and this pick. The center joined Harford on May 1 and appeared in four playoff games for the Wolf Pack after the end to his juniopr season with Sault St. Marie. The 20-year-old had 22 goals and 29 assist for 51 points during the OHL regular season, with another five goals and 10 assists for 15 point in 11 OHL playoff games. It was a solid season, though not quite at the level he played at in 2022-23 when he scored 30 goals and 77 points in 68 games in the OHL. Next season will be a good test for McConnell-Barker, his first full one as a professional.

Noah Laba (No. 111)

With a pick obtained from Winnipeg via the Vegas Golden Knights as the result of a trade on July 17, 2021 that sent Brett Howden to Vegas in exchange for Nick DeSimone, New York selected Noah Laba 111th overall. Laba is arguably the Rangers’ top center prospect after earing 2024 Second-Team All American honors at Colorado College, and being named the NCHC Defensive Player of the Year and winner of Three Stars Award. He led the Tigers with career-highs of 20 goals and 37 points in 36 games. Laba led the nation with four overtime goals, and finished tied for third in the nation with three short-handed goals and fourth with seven game-winning goals. At the face-off dot, Laba finished seventh in the NCHC with a 57.1 winning percentage and was named a Distinguished Scholar-Athlete by the NCHC and member of the all-academic team for the second consecutive year. Despite the Rangers making a push to sign Laba at the conclusion of his sophomore season, the 20-year-old chose to remain in school. He was named as an assistant captain for Colorado College for the 2024-25 season. Look for Laba to be signed once the Tigers season is complete, and join Hartford for a 2025 playoff push.

Victor Mancini (No. 159)

Defenseman Victor Mancini was selected by the Rangers at No. 159 in the fifth round. After completing his junior season with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he scored four goals and 10 points in 40 games, Mancini agreed to terms on a two-year, entry-level contract on April 2. The 22-year-old looked like a seasoned veteran when he joined the Wolf Pack, as he collected three assists in seven regular-season games before adding another three assists in 10 playoff games.

Maxim Barbashev (No. 161)

New York selected Maxim Barbashev at No. 161 overall with a pick acquired from the Avalanche. The forward was signed to an amateur tryout agreement on April 9, and appeared in one regular- season game with the Wolf Pack before being released. His NHL signing rights with the Rangers expired June 1.

Zakary Karpa (No. 191)

Center Zakary Karpa was New York’s final selection in the sixth round at No. 191 overall. The 22-year-old from Greenwich, Connecticut, is the son of former Rangers defenseman Dave Karpa. He’s scored 15 goals and 28 points in 86 career games though three seasons with Harvard University in the NCAA. Karpa was captain of the Crimson last season, a role he will continue this seeason in his senior year. New York holds his signing rights until August 15, 2025, though he will need to improve his offensive output in order to earn an entry-level contract with the organization.

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