Rangers ready to draft a franchise player to an already deep prospect pool
Say it with me now…
Rangerstown is still abuzz and brimming with excitement and anticipation following the NHL Draft Lottery reveal party back on April 9th in Toronto. It’s commonly thought of as being a virtual lock that the New Jersey Devils, winners of the lottery, will select Jack Hughes with the top pick leaving the runner-up Rangers with a helluva consolation prize in the Finnish man-child known as Kaapo Kakko.
The fervor surrounding the potential drafting of Kakko has become so intense that some acolytes of the Blueshirt congregation have forgotten about the impressive trifecta of first round picks from the 2018 draft. Russian wunderkind, Vitali Kravtsov, American dynamo K’Andre Miller and the silky smooth Swede, Nils Lundkvist, have all proved in their respective leagues why they were selected in the first round and all three future Rangers should make their debuts on Broadway within the next couple of years.
Throughout the 2018-19 season, we have opined, in a myriad of articles, about the other, lesser-known Ranger prospects that could land their own supporting roles on Broadway. The neophyte that seems to keep getting mentioned the most when discussing under-the-radar prospects is the 2017, 6th round draft pick Morgan Barron.
The 6″3′ pivot, who currently shines at Cornell University, had 34 points in 36 games in his sophomore season for Big Red and led his team in scoring. Barron, 20, would give the Blueshirts size and skill at the center position that was lost when Kevin Hayes was jettisoned to Winnipeg during the roster purge of 2019.
Riley Hughes, a 7th round pick from last year’s draft, had a marvelous season playing for the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL. The Massachusetts native, who also has decent size at 6″1′ 180lbs, tallied 58 points in 53 regular season games for his Junior team and added 21 points in 15 playoff contests.
Defensemen Joey Keane (3rd round) and Nico Gross (4th round) also veterans of the 2018 draft class, each had wonderful seasons playing in the Ontario Hockey League, Keane (USA) and Gross (Switzerland) received invites to represent their native countries in the World Junior Championships Tournament with Gross qualifying for his Swiss team. The old adage in baseball is a team “can never have enough pitching.”
The same notion applies to defensemen in hockey. Miller, Lundkvist, Keane and Gross give the Rangers tremendous organizational depth regarding the future of their all-important blue line.
And, with at least five guaranteed picks in the first two rounds of this June’s draft, it is safe to say that even more talented young defenseman will be added to the back-end arsenal of your beloved hockey team.
For the first time in a long time, the Rangers, a franchise whose farm system use to resemble a refrigerator of freshman in college, have a fully stocked cupboard that will only continue to grow and get better in the coming years.
It is now less than two months until the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is now less than two months until general manager Jeff Gorton as his posse of scouts and adjacents, strut their way up to Commissioner Gary Bettman’s podium with a blue jersey in tow and chests extended (cue the Ric Flair memes) to announce who the Blueshirts will select with the number two pick. The expected addition of an offensive force like Kappo Kakko will be a welcome site to a fan base and a franchise in desperate need of an infusion of elite-level talent.