Rangers should take a goalie in the 2023 NHL Draft

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Jun 3, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) congratulates goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) on defeating Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 after game two of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Looking over the goaltending depth chart for the New York Rangers, 2022 Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin (27) has two years until unrestricted free agency, while backup Jaroslav Halak is a pending unrestricted free agent at 38 years old.

In Hartford, 31-year-old veteran Louis Domingue is signed through the 2023-2024 season with an NHL cap hit of $775,000 and Dylan Garand (21) has two years left on his Entry Level Contract. Also under contract are Talyn Boyko (20) who has two years until Restricted Free Agency, while Olof Lindbom is entering the final season of his ELC at age 22. 

As of this writing, 21-year-old Hugo Ollas is the only unsigned amateur goaltending prospect in the New York Rangers organization. Ollas will enter his junior year with Merrimack University, having led the team to the Hockey East finals in the NCAA. Expect Ollas to remain at the collegiate level beyond this upcoming season, as he split goaltending duties for the Warriors with Zachary Borgiel, while freshman Steven Bacovsky also saw brief action during the 2022-2023 season. 

General Manager Chris Drury did not select a goaltender in the 2022 draft. The year prior, Talyn Boyko was selected in the 4th round (112th overall). 2020 saw then General Manager Jeff Gorton pick Dylan Garand 103th overall in the 4th round, and the organization took a chance on Swedish goaltender Hugo Ollas at 197th overall in the 7th round.

Countryman and future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist was also selected in the 7th round (205th overall) back in 2000 by Senior Advisor and Alternate Governor Glen Sather. The 2019 NHL Draft class did not include a goaltender for the New York Rangers, while Olof Lindbom was the first netminder to have his name called in the 2nd round (39th overall) back in 2018. 

Rangers should target a goaltender in the draft

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According to CapFriendly, the New York Rangers currently posses five picks heading into the 2023 NHL Draft. They retained their own first round selection (23rd overall). The 91st overall selection in the third round, originally belonging to the Colorado Avalanche, acquired in the deal for Alexandar Georgiev. The 152nd overall selection in the fifth round acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the rights to Jayden Grubbe. In the sixth round, New York holds the 178th overall selection, acquired from the Winnipeg Jets as part of the trade involving Andrew Copp and Morgan Barron, as well as their own 6th round pick (183rd overall).  

With their earlier picks in the first and third rounds, the Rangers will be looking to draft the best player available (preferably a forward who can play center), though it would be wise for the team to restock the proverbial cupboard with depth at positions of need in the later rounds. 

One goaltender the Rangers might target with one of the fifth or sixth round selections they hold is Stephen Peck, born January 18, 2005 in New York, NY. NHL Central Scouting lists Peck as the number 7 North American goalie in their Final Rankings for 2022/2023 and his name is among the Top 10 goalies for the 2023 NHL Draft. Listed as 6’2’ and 174 lbs on his Elite Prospects page, Peck backstopped the Winged Beavers of prestigious Avon Old Farms School to a New England Championship (NEPSAC), while also winning the coveted Christmas Classic Tournament.

The name should be familiar to New York Rangers fans, as the school was also the alma mater of 1994 Conn Smythe Trophy winner and former captain Brian Leetch (Class of 1986). Other Stanley Cup Champions to have played at Avon Old Farms include Jonathan Quick (Class of 2005) and Nick Bonino (Class of 2007). Cam Atkinson, Trevor Zegras, and Spencer Knight have also spent time playing for the Winged Beavers. 

For the 2022-2023 season, the goaltender had seven shutouts in 28 games, while sporting a 1.26 goals against average and a save percentage of .948. He ended the year with the Yale Jr. Bulldogs 18U AAA, and was also invited to and participated in the USA Hockey National Goaltending Camp in May of 2023 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.

Peck is committed to play in the NCAA for the powerhouse University of Michigan Wolverines, though he will likely spend the 2023-2024 season in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, who own his rights. As an eighteen-year-old committed to play in the NCAA for the next few years, the Rangers would be wise to select the goaltender in the draft and watch his development with a strong system at the University of Michigan. Having not taken a netminder in last year’s draft, and with only one amateur prospect in the system, we could be seeing Chris Drury plan for the future in net by adding an additional goaltender to the prospect pool. 

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