31-in-31: New York Rangers

Brayden Olafson

2019-07-20

Welcome to our annual 31-in-31 Summer Series here at DobberProspects! Every day in July we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft, notes from their development camp, and insights into their off-season moves so far. Following this up, the August 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check in often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs all summer long!

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For the third consecutive year, the New York Rangers found themselves drafting inside the top-10 of the NHL Entry Draft, although, this time with an easier selection than ever before. The organization has undergone a massive retool over the course of the last calendar year, none of which would have been likely if not for their acknowledgment of status and infamous letter to the fans in February of last year. 

Since trading Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for the seventh-overall selection at the 2017 Entry Draft, the Blueshirts have continued an aggressive stance on a changing of the guard. Some, if not most of the most promising young names in their current depth chart are there as a result of that aggressiveness – for example: 

K’Andre Miller & Ryan Lindgren -> Rick Nash

Nils Lundkvist, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden -> JT Miller & Ryan McDonagh

Joey Keane -> Nick Holden

On June 21, the Rangers’ continued that aggressive trend, making eight selections, which, on average, are considered great selections.

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2019 Draft Selections: 

Round 1,  2nd Overall  – Kappo Kakko, RW

With the second overall selection, the Rangers were lobbed one of the easiest selections in recent draft memory, which they knocked right out of the park. Kappo Kakko, the most recent Finn to make a name for himself on the world stage made an exceptional case in the months leading up to the draft, to replace Jack Hughes at the top of the draft podium. 

The relatively brawny winger carries a toolbox of outstanding skill, creativity, strength and skating ability, not to mention a positive attitude and a winning pedigree. It’s difficult to poke many holes in his game on a regular basis, which makes a consistent NHL career seem all the more likely. Whether or not the Rangers find a spot for him in their lineup this year isn’t even a question at this point. Rather, the question will be how much of a responsibility he has by Christmas time.

In the case of most youngsters making their way into the league, early success and confidence is often dependant on the skill and quality of the young players’ linemates. In Kakko’s case, however, being sheltered won’t become a trend. It seems more likely that he, as a rookie, becomes the type of player who is relied upon to carry the burden of slumping players, and fellow rookies alike. Don’t believe me – have a look:

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Round 2, 49th Overall – Matthew Robertson, D

 

The Rangers did the best that they could to follow up the Kakko pick, and quite honestly, they did great. While the 2019 Entry Draft offered an exciting group players well into the second round, the Blueshirts stole a player, who, by all accounts was first-round worthy. 

Robertson is a tactical defenseman, in the sense that his every move is seeming, strategic. He’s neither a purely offen