A look at every Rangers first round pick in the salary cap era

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
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The New York Rangers are well into training camp and have a handful of their first-round picks in attendance. Their latest top choice from 2023 is not among the faces preparing for a new NHL season, but several of his future teammates are busy earning their spots. 

Since the NHL introduced the salary cap after the 2004-05 lockout season, the Rangers have made 18 selections in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. As expected, several names from this group have gone on to have solid careers, while others never made the most of their opportunities and kept playing professionally for as long as they could.

So, as fans prepare for the upcoming season and discuss the merits of everyone in a practice jersey, here’s an update on all Rangers first-round picks since 2005. 

New York Rangers first round picks post salary cap era

NHL: NHL Draft
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Gabriel Perreault (23rd Overall 2023)

Current status: Boston College Eagles (NCAA)

NHL games: 0

As the latest Rangers’ top pick, getting selected 23rd overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Gabriel Perreault is not attending the main camp this year, as he’s already committed to Boston College. Last year, while skating with the U.S. National Team Development Program U18 team, he potted 132 points in 63 games with 53 goals and 79 assists. Additionally, he had 18 points in seven games with the US U18 team.  

Brennan Othmann (16th Overall 2021)

Current status: Attending 2023-24 training camp

NHL games: 0

Brennan Othmann is participating in training camp this year and should begin the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the American Hockey League (AHL). At 20, he’s played in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the last two seasons with the Flint Firebirds and Peterborough Petes, collecting 164 points in 122 games. Furthermore, he’s won two World Junior Championships, tallying 12 points in 13 games at the 2022 and 2023 tournaments. Although he’s a long shot to earn a roster spot, if he continues to produce in the minors, there’s a chance he will earn a call-up in 2023-24.  

Alexis Lafreniere (1st Overall 2020)

Current status: Rangers winger

NHL games: 216

As only the second-ever first-overall pick in Rangers history, Alexis Lafreniere has yet to live up to the billing, but the blame isn’t entirely on him. After skating for David Quinn and Gerard Gallant, he’ll begin his fourth season with his third coach, Peter Laviolette. Hopefully, the third time is a charm, and Lafreniere gets an opportunity to showcase his skills and not find himself back in a bottom-six role. Thus far, he’s collected 91 points with 47 goals and 44 helpers in 216 NHL games, never skating in the minors. 

Braden Schneider (19th Overall 2020) 

Current status: Rangers defenseman

NHL games: 124

In 2022-23, Braden Schneider played his first entire season in the NHL, skating in 81 games and picking up 18 points. Before last year, he split time between the Rangers and Wolfpack in 2021-22 after spending several seasons in the Western Hockey League, serving as one of the leaders on the Brandon Wheat Kings. Surprisingly, the 22-year-old already has 27 games of NHL playoff experience, with a goal and three assists. 

Kaapo Kakko (2nd Overall 2019) 

Current status: Rangers winger

NHL games: 239

Unfortunately, Kaapo Kakko is another high-draft selection who has struggled to find his offensive groove under two previous head coaches. Recently, he nearly doubled his previous career high of 23 points with 40 last season, finishing the campaign with 18 goals and 22 assists. Considering that Kakko has skated in various positions throughout the lineup, hopefully, he will find a spot with regular linemates and contribute more offensively in 2023-24. 

Vitali Kravtsov (9th Overall 2018) 

Current status: Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)

NHL games: 64 / Rangers games: 48

Like Lafreniere and Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov was an underutilized forward that the Rangers had to part ways with after 48 games over two seasons. After being drafted in 2018, he opted to stay in Russia and skated in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) before coming to North America to play in the AHL with the Wolf Pack in 2019-20. Eventually, Kravtsov made his NHL debut but was soon Vancouver-bound in a February 2023 trade. He only played 16 games with the Canucks, and has since returned to the KHL to play with Traktor Chelyabinsk this year. 

K’Andre Miller (22nd Overall 2018)

k'andre miller
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Current status: Rangers defenseman

NHL games: 214

Although the Rangers employ a Norris Trophy winner in Adam Fox, having K’Andre Miller also in your top-four is something to smile about. As one of the Rangers’ top picks from the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, he’s the only skater from that first round still with the franchise. Additionally, Miller has missed just six games in his career, compiling 75 points in 214 games. Ultimately, last year was his best as a professional, with 43 points and 34 helpers, averaging 21:57 a night, all personal bests. 

Nils Lundkvist (28th Overall 2018)

Current status: Dallas Stars defenseman

NHL games: 85 / Rangers games: 25

As a first-round pick in 2018, Lundkvist made his NHL debut in October 2021 after coming over from the SHL. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out on Broadway, with just four points in 25 games, leading to a trade to the Stars for a conditional first-round pick in 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2023. Overall, Lundkvist has 20 points in 60 games. 

Lias Andersson (7th Overall 2017)

Current status: Laval Rockets (AHL)

NHL games: 110 / Rangers games: 66

After six years of playing professional hockey in North America, Lias Andersson has yet to keep a regular spot in a lineup, suiting up for a career-high 42 games in 2018-19. Even though he’s spent most of his time in the AHL, he’s still collected 17 points in the NHL and has 121 points in 160 games in the minors. After a trade to the Los Angeles Kings in 2020 for a second-round pick, Andersson recently signed with the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent and should play for their minor league club, the Laval Rockets. 

Filip Chytil (21st Overall 2017)

Current status: Rangers center

NHL games: 327

Before his outbreak year in 2022-23 with 45 points, Filip Chytil scored at most 23 in the previous four seasons. Unfortunately, like many other first-round picks in the Rangers organization, he’s struggled to find his identity, bouncing from line to line and never staying with the same linemates for long stretches. Ultimately, this situation has yet to help Chytil grow, even though he’s locked into a nice contract worth $4.4 million for the next four seasons. Statistically, he has 138 points in 327 games, thanks to 64 goals and 74 assists.  

Brady Skjei (28th Overall 2012)

Current status: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman

NHL games: 529 / Rangers games: 307

Surprisingly, Brady Skjei is already an eight-year veteran in the NHL, who now skates with Metropolitan Divison rival, the Carolina Hurricanes. After a short stint (several games) as a 21-year-old in 2015-16, he’s gone on to skate in almost every game since, missing just a dozen games in his career. Unfortunately, like several names on this list, the Rangers traded Skjei in a February 2020 deal, ending his tenure in New York after 307 games and 112 points. Overall, he’s collected 200 points in 529 games. 

J.T. Miller (15th Overall 2011)

Current status: Vancouver Canucks forward

NHL games: 718 / Rangers games: 341

Since making his debut in 2013-14, J.T. Miller is already skating with his third team, having played with the Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and now the Vancouver Canucks. Realistically, he had solid campaigns in New York but found himself attached to the Ryan McDonagh trade in February 2018 before another deal sent him to British Columbia. Statistically, Miller’s best campaign came in 2021-22, when he scored 32 goals and finished the year with 99 points, shattering his best of 72 points back in 2019-20. Recently, the 30-year-old re-signed with the Canucks for seven years with a $56 million contract.  

Dylan McIlrath (10th Overall 2010)

Current status: Hershey Bears (AHL) defenseman

NHL games: 72 / Rangers games: 38

Dylan McIirath has had a unique NHL career, appearing in a career-high 34 games in 2015-16. After appearing in at least one game from 2013 to 2017, he didn’t skate during the 2017-18 season or make it into a contest between 2020 and 2022. Additionally, after seven years in the league, he’s now in the Washington Capitals organization, his fourth team besides the Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, and Florida Panthers. Despite only six points in 73 games in the NHL, he’s compiled 113 points in 560 games in the AHL with an eye-popping 1,104 penalty minutes.  

Chris Kreider (19th Overall 2009)

Current status: Rangers’ winger

NHL games: 733

Although Chris Kreider does not wear the “C” on his jersey, it is safe to say that he is the emotional leader of the Rangers, the only team he’s played for during his 11-year career. Historically, with every game, goal, assist, and point he collects, he watches his name climb the lists of one of the league’s Original Six franchises. As one of only four players to tally more than 50 goals in a single season while skating in New York, Kreider is a sure bet to play his entire career with the Blueshirts and retire as a fan favorite. 

Michael Del Zotto (20th Overall 2008) 

Current status: Retired

NHL games: 736 / Rangers games: 292

In September 2023, Michael Del Zotto announced his retirement after a 13-year career in which the former first-round pick played with eight franchises. Ultimately, besides being a top selection, his crowning achievement is being part of a Stanley Cup-winning team, celebrating a championship with the St. Louis Blues in 2019. Although Del Zotto hasn’t played in the NHL since 2021-22, he spent parts of his final seasons in the AHL, finishing his professional career with 353 points in 838 games. 

Alexei Cherepanov (17th Overall 2007)

Unfortunately, shortly after the Rangers selected Alexei Cherepanov as their top pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, he passed away after losing consciousness during a game in the KHL on Oct. 13, 2008 with former Ranger Jaromir Jagr helpless on the bench. Although he never played hockey in North America, the Russian forward won several medals at the World Junior Championships, including two Top 3 Player on Team awards and two All-Star Team selections. 

Bobby Sanguinetti (21st Overall 2006)

Current status: Retired

NHL games: 45 / Rangers games: five

Bobby Sanguinetti had a brief NHL career, just skating in 45 games between 2009 and 2013. After a solid career in the OHL, leading to the Rangers drafting him in the first round, he didn’t produce at the same level in the NHL, resulting in playing the bulk of his professional career in the AHL, where he had 229 points in 406 games. However, after 2014-15, Sanguinetti bounced between the KHL, AHL, NLA (Switzerland), NL (Switzerland), and DEL (Germany) before retiring in 2020. 

Marc Staal (12th Overall 2005)

Current status: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman

NHL games: 1,101 / Rangers games: 892 games

Marc Staal was the Rangers’ first draft pick in the salary cap era, and after a lengthy 13-year career on Broadway, moved on to the Red Wings and Panthers, recently signing to play with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2023-24. At 36, Staal just played in his second Stanley Cup Final with the Panthers, who lost in five games. Surprisingly, he has managed to score at least double digits in every season but two, 2011-12 and 2017-18. Additionally, he’s been reliable throughout his career, averaging 20:07 ice time a night, never skating in less than 17:25 per game in any given season. 

Historical Perspective

Surprisingly, the Rangers have had some success drafting in the first round during the salary cap era. Not every player went on to have lengthy careers in New York like Kreider or Staal, but most of the names on this list have played at least played a hundred plus games in the NHL. 

Of course, many teams have success stories with first-rounders, while some players are complete busts. Although this statement is true across all professional sports, there arguably isn’t a more significant sports market in the world than New York City, which can seem like a daunting place to play. 

Even though a handful of skaters have yet to write their stories, some of the names on this list already have a particular spot reserved in Rangers fans’ hearts, which is a challenging space to earn all on its own. 

Stats from Hockey-Reference and Elite Prospects

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