Taking a look at the Rangers Top-10 Forward Prospects
The last 17 months has seen an unprecedented amount of talent flood into the New York Rangers prospect pipeline. From the addition of 2017 ninth overall pick Vitali Kravtsov to the trade for star Harvard defenseman Adam Fox and the selection of Kaapo Kakko, the Rangers now have a prospect pipeline that is within the upper echelon of the NHL.
With all of these new faces joining the organization, we at Forever Blueshirts wanted to rank all these players and give you all just a little bit on each. Enjoy our forward, defense and goaltender prospect rankings, written by myself and Stat Boy Steven himself, Mr. Steven Voogel. We begin with the forwards.
#1 – Kaapo Kakko
What can we say about Kaapo Kakko? Highest draft pick since 1966 when it was still an amateur draft. Best prospect the Rangers have ever had. Won gold at the U18, U20 and Men’s World Championships before even being drafted. Easy number 1. – Steven
#2 – Vitali Kravtsov
The Russian kid who was picked ninth overall has silenced the critics after a remarkable season in Russia, where his contributions were higher than Eeli Tolvanen, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Artemi Panarin and Vladimir Tarasenko in their respective D+1 season. – Steven
#3 – Lias Andersson
The seventh overall pick in 2017, the Swede is taking a bit longer to develop than fans were hoping but is still the third-best forward prospect on the team. Guys like Mark Scheifele, Mat Barzal, Logan Couture, Claude Giroux, and many others were still playing junior hockey at this stage in their careers. Patience is key. Andersson had a higher contribution percentage in the AHL this past season than Martin Necas, Klim Kostin and Eeli Tolvanen, all of whom are considered blue-chip prospects. – Steven
#4 – Leevi Aaltonen
The speedy winger is all you want in a late-round pick. He’s fast, has great puck control, superb vision and can pot some goals on top of that. Style-wise, the best comparison is Tony Amonte. If Aaltonen can develop into a middle-six winger in the NHL, this pick will be the steal of 2019. – Steven
#5 – Morgan Barron
Barron was Cornell’s best player on the ice last season. After a decent freshman season for the Big Red where he recorded 18 points (5G, 18A) in 33 games, he exploded during his sophomore season with 34 points (15G, 19A) in 36 games. Barron, a 6’2”, 209 pound center, could possibly challenge for a roster spot during the 2020-21 season after he elected to stay at Cornell for his junior year. For a sixth-round pick, the Rangers may have gotten a steal. – Russell
#6 – Karl Henriksson
A talented center who drives the play. While playing with 2020 top prospect Lucas Raymond, he established himself as the best center on a very talented J20 Frölunda team. Expect Henriksson to play some big minutes in the SHL next season. – Steven
For a much more detailed analysis of Henriksson, click here.
#7 – Lauri Pajuniemi
Playing in the shadow of Kakko this season at TPS, the 19-year old winger was drafted last year by the Blueshirts and continues to develop. Of course, the development takes more time with him, but with Kakko most likely in New York, a bigger role should be up for grabs for Pajuniemi with the Finnish club. – Steven
#8 – Ty Ronning
The former seventh-round pick is a perplexing player in the Rangers organization. He had a decent start to his pro career in Hartford last season but he really seemed to hit his stride with the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. Ronning scored 61 goals as an overager in the WHL during his final season with the Vancouver Giants, but it’s not quite clear yet what the Rangers have in this kid. Due to his size, 5’9” and 172 pounds, the comparisons to former fan favorite Mats Zuccarello are going to be there. Is there a place for Ronning in the Rangers lineup as this rebuild continues? It’s tough to say at this point in time, and he definitely needs more time in the minors. Seventh-round picks don’t typically have a big chance at making the NHL so if Ronning can turn into a solid third or fourth liner one day, that would be great. For now, Ronning needs to focus on tearing it up in Hartford. – Russell
#9 – Adam Edström
For a big, tall winger, Edström moves remarkably well. He surprised both scouts and fans during the prospect development camp with his skating, and he is another late-round pick who shows signs of things to come. In those later rounds, you look for players who stand out in at least one aspect of the game. He played 15 games with Mora in the SHL and, despite being relegated, Edström impressed scouts enough to receive several offers from SHL teams, and he accepted the offer from Rögle, where he will play with fellow Rangers prospect Jakob Ragnarsson this upcoming season. – Steven
#10 – Eric Ciccolini
Seventh round, 205th overall. The Rangers have had some good history with that spot before. Ciccolini had a decent year in the OJHL (Ontario Junior Hockey League) where he put 62 points (27G, 35A) in 48 games. Pretty good stats for an 18-year-old. Unfortunately for Ciccolini, the issue here is that the OJHL isn’t looked at the same way the OHL, WHL and QMJHL are. It’s one of the lesser Canadian junior leagues along with the BCHL, which features Rangers prospect Riley Hughes, and AJHL. Ciccolini is committed to the University of Michigan next season and if he begins to put up really good numbers there, then the Rangers just might have something. If Ciccolini turns into any type of contributor for the Rangers down the line, this pick is a success. He has a long road ahead of him and a big depth chart to jump if he hopes to make the NHL someday, but the kid has shown signs that he could be something down the line. – Russell
Jake Elmer, Riley Hughes, Gabriel Fontaine
Editor’s Note: To be included in the prospect ranking, a prospect must be either 23 years of age at season’s start OR have played less than 60 NHL games.