A deeper look at the newest NYR draft day additions

Day (NHLN)

Day (NHLN)

Well, here we are. The Stanley Cup has been awarded and the Pittsburgh Penguins organization has a fourth championship to put in their trophy case. The 2016 entry draft finished last weekend and fans are looking forward to free agency to see where Steven Stamkos will sign and just when the dominoes will begin to fall. Before we get to July 1, and all the craziness that will be sure to follow let’s take a look back at this past weekend’s entry draft and see how the New York Rangers performed, despite not having a first round pick once again.

Rangers fans eagerly awaited the team’s first pick in the draft and it finally happened in the third round, 81st overall. With that pick, the Rangers selected one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft class. His name is Sean Day, and if he can hit his ceiling or even come close to it, Rangers fans will be very happy.

Day, of the Mississauga Steelheads who now stands at 6’2” and weighs 228 pounds, is one of only five hockey players in the world to be chosen for “exceptional status;” meaning that he was allowed to enter junior hockey at the age of 15 rather than 16. Three of them have been 1st overall picks in the NHL and you just might know their names: John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, and Connor McDavid. The other, Joseph Veleno, is an already highly touted 2018 prospect currently playing for the St. Johns Sea Dogs in the QMJHL. Day, was extremely highly touted prospect when he was younger and from the second he touched junior hockey ice he was projected as a possible first overall pick. Well, Day hasn’t quite had the road McDavid, Ekblad and Tavares had.

He never quite lived up to his hype and never quite put all the pieces together; this is not to say that Day hasn’t been an ineffective player. He also was not playing on the best teams in junior hockey. But I can’t stress this point enough Rangers fans: if Day manages to put it all together and show why he was granted exceptional status than the New York Rangers got the steal of the draft. This was a kid destined for greatness that didn’t reach his peak in junior but who, according to himself, is now ready for the challenge of reaching his peak.

The natural skill Day possesses is there. The big body and the hockey knowledge is there. The comparisons to NHL’ers such as Keith Yandle and Victor Hedman is there. This is a player who can be absolutely deadly but, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here. Day may never live up to the lofty expectations scouts originally had for him. His junior career may define the player he is but when your team doesn’t pick until the third round of the NHL entry draft and you see a player like Sean Day still available you make that selection. You do so with confidence knowing that if he pans out, your organization just got possibly one of the best young defensemen in the game. If for some reason he doesn’t, you move on but I give Rangers GM Jeff Gorton a ton of credit for taking this risk. Day could surprise everyone and if he does the Rangers will be a much better team for it.

While Day was the big story there are other notable prospects to talk about here as well.
With the 98th overall pick, in the fourth round of the draft the Rangers selected defensemen Tarmo Reunanen of TPS in Finland’s Liiga. This was another high risk, high reward pick for the New York Rangers as he was injured for half the season last year and didn’t get a full chance to showcase his skill set in his draft year. He does address a great need for the Rangers in a puck moving defensemen and as Blueshirt Banter’s Joe Fortunato pointed out, his stats from two years ago are almost identical to 2016 fifth overall pick Olli Juolevi. Both hit the 30 point plateau as defensmen in their respective leagues.

Now, I’m not saying this guy will be identical to Juolevi but if the Rangers did indeed grab someone of that same mold, in the fourth round no less, that would be great for the team moving forward. Whether he gets picked in the import draft and comes over to North America to finish his junior career or he stays in Finland to play against men, both will help him develop and Reunanen will no doubt be an interesting prospect to watch these upcoming years.

The next prospect the Rangers drafted was forward Tim Gettinger, in the fifth round, 141st overall. Finally, in the fifth round the Rangers drafted a forward. Gettinger, who plays for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, is yet another risk pick by the team but at this point in the draft almost everyone is. In his two years playing for the Greyhounds he has scored 27 goals and assisted on 37 others. Standing at 6’5” and weighing about 201 pounds, he is a big body that could help the Rangers down the line as a potential top nine winger. Once you get this late in the draft it’s all about potential and Gettinger, a big winger who has NHL power forward potential, was a great late round steal for the Rangers.

Fontaine (NYR)

Fontaine (NYR)

Next up: Gabriel Fontaine, 171st overall and Tyler Wall, 174th overall, in the 6th round. Fontaine, a forward, and Wall, a goalie, are both interesting picks. Fontaine because he was a holdover from last years draft and some projected him to go even lower than he did and Wall because the Rangers have some great goalie prospects in the pipeline and they didn’t necessarily need to pick a goaltender. Fontaine did put ok numbers this year in the QMJHL for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (20 goals and 25 assists in 63 games) so that’s a plus for him and Wall, of the Leamington Flyers, did have a better save percentage and goals against average than any other goaltender in the GOJHL (.940 sv and a 1.49 GAA) but both are years away from joining the team; if they do at all. Then again, Benoit Allaire is a fantastic goalie coach and any goalie could learn a thing or two and prosper from his teachings.

Finally we get to the seventh round and the 201st overall pick: Ty Ronning. Ronning was an absolutely exceptional pick by the Rangers as he wasn’t predicting to drop further than the fourth round. If Ronning pans out, this picks will be an absolute steal. He comes from great stock; his dad Cliff played in the NHL for 18 seasons and was part of the Vancouver Canucks team that lost to the Rangers in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.

He has a great shot and great hockey instincts. In 67 games for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, Ronning scored 31 goals and assisted on 28 others to score 59 points. He is the most interesting prospect on this list not named Sean Day and his development will be something that the Rangers and Rangers fans will be watching quite closely because he could be something special if he pans out. A shoulder injury and his small size (5’9” and 165 pounds) attributed to his late selection but small guys can definitely play in this league; right Mats Zuccarello and Patrick Kane?