August 31-in-31: New York Rangers

by Brayden Olafson on August 20, 2019

 

Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top 20 prospects in the system.

 

To purchase DobberHockey’s 2019-2020 Fantasy Guide, click here 

 

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The New York Rangers’ pipeline has undergone a massive reconstruction over the course of the last three to four years. The organization went from not picking in the first round for several consecutive years, to picking inside the top-10 for three. Aside from drafting high, the Blueshirts organization has drafted well in the mid-late rounds, swinging hard in the fields of goaltending and skilled Scandanavian prospects. The team has also adapted well to the trend of selecting college-bound players when appropriate. 

The Russian influence that now crowds the cream of their crop is slowly being diluted, however the organization continues to draft strongly when the picks are available. The team has also played a heavy hand in the trade market, acquiring young talented players by leveraging their desirable destination status to prospects and pros and free agents alike.

All indications are that the team has shortened their expected rebuild significantly. They appear to be quickly climbing out of the depths of their competitive recession and well on the way to the new wave of success.

 

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Graduating Players

 

Graduating to the NHL

 

Vitali Kravtsov (KHL > NHL)

Kaapo Kakko (Liiga > NHL)

Adam Fox (NCAA – ECAC Hockey > NHL)

 

The Rangers will continue to bring young players into the fold this fall. Along with this years second-overall draft-pick and very promising prospect Kaapo Kakko, we’ll likely see both Adam Fox and Vitali Kravtsov suit up on Broadway – at least for a portion of the year. For these three players, the odds of long term success are quite high. Each has a respectable ceiling that could see them score in the top-15th percentile of their respective positions, and in Kakko’s case possibly top-5th percentile.

 

As the short-term goes both Kravtsov and Kakko are likely to start the 2019-20 season on the Rangers right-wing. Thus far in his NHL coaching career, David Quinn has been known to start younger players out with a relatively short leash, allowing them room to grow based solely on merit. The two most desirable linemates for the youngsters would be Artemi Panarin who will play the Rangers top-line left-wing slot, or Mika Zibenejad who will center a line in the top-6. Whether Panarin and Zibanejad are deployed as a pair remains to be seen, however, some of the young players success will hinge which, if either of those big guns they’ll line up with. Powerplay time is also a factor that should be taken into consideration, and while merit would typically be a factor in that regard, it’s unlikely that Quinn will be able to hold Kakko off of the top unit for long. 

 

Adam Fox, on the other hand, has a window of opportunity this fall, where only he and Jacob Trouba seem to be contenders for the Rangers primary power play quarterback. Hot on his tail will be K’Andre Miller, who the Rangers will surely take a run at signing next summer. Fox was an excellent acquisition by the Rangers, but partial possession of the teams future top-2 slot is anything but guaranteed. 

 

 

 

Graduating to the AHL

 

Igor Shesterkin (KHL > AHL/NHL)

Jake Elmer (WHL > AHL)

Joey Keane (OHL > AHL)

Adam Huska (NCAA – Hockey East – AHL/ECHL)

 

The Rangers organization has taken several steps over the last six months to ensure that the Hartford Wolfpack cease to be a laughing stock of the farms. The team shuffled Hartford’s coaching staff and put a focus on bringing their drafted players into the fold to develop under a more watchful eye. 

 

 

Igor Shesterkin, is perhaps the most high-profile of those players. The Russian netminder has backstopped SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL with an outstanding combination of finesse, structure and athleticism over the past three seasons. There’s little that will impede him from taking a shot at the throne over the course of his ELC, and even less past that term. 

 

Adam Huska, on the other hand will likely spend time on the farm, and perhaps one day battle for time an NHL crease. This move to the AHL, however, is the first major step in his development after a relatively cavalier collegiate stint.  

 

Jake Elmer and Joey Keane come to the Wolfpack after each completing their major junior careers. Each will likely have growing pains at their respective positions, with Keane sitting higher on the proverbial totem pole for now. 

 

 

 

Graduating to the SHL (or Allsvenskan) and Liiga

 

Jakob Ragnarsson (SuperElit > SHL)

 

Calle Sjalin (Allsvenskan > SHL)

 

Adam Edstrom (SuperElit > Allsvenskan/SHL)

Olof Lindbom (SuperElit > Allsvenskan/SHL)

 

Leevi Aaltonen (Jr. SM Liiga > Liiga)

 

 Despite moving to a more in-house type of development strategy, much of the Rangers’ pipeline remains overseas. With their current depth at defense and goal, it’s easy to see why. Both of Jakob Ragnarsson and Calle Sjalin should have the opportunity to play in more a pro type of environment before the Rangers make final judgements on their enormous group of mid-tiered defense prospects. How the organization will evaluate the group in an apples-to-oranges environment is a challenge that will be handled internally, however, continuing to develop in their home country of Sweden is in the best interest of both defensemen. 

 

The same goes for Olof Lindbom who likely holds a higher status in the organizations’ prospect depth chart than all but Igor Shesterkin. Limiting crease time of any of their goaltending prospects by cramming them all into the in-house farm system is not in anyone’s best interest. 

 

In the cases of Adam Edstrom and Leevi Altonen, there’s likely a sense from the Rangers organization that a move to the AHL might be slightly premature for both players developments. With both players only now graduating from their respective junior leagues, the transition to their native pro levels is likely enough strain for one summer. Based on their success in the year ahead, the team could very likely seek contracts with either player and move to bring them into the North American development umbrella. 

 

 

 

Graduating to the NCAA

 

Riley Hughes (USHL > NCAA – Hockey East)

Zachary Jones (USHL > NCAA – Hockey East)

Simon Kjellberg (USHL > NCAA – ECAC Hockey)

Eric Ciccolini (OJHL > NCAA – Big 10)

 

The NCAA is home to the Rangers’ long-ball prospects. It will be a great home to each of Riley Huges, Zach Jones, Simon Kjellberg and Eric Ciccolini for the next three to four years. Although each of the four prospects bound for college show some varying level of promise, they’ll likely take some time to blossom. With the exception of Kjellberg, all will be attending relatively successful programs who have had success in developing future NHL players. While Rensselaer Polytech still competes in a Division I conference, the ECAC, the school is not renowned for producing future NHLers. In this case, Kjellberg is likely hedging his future by pursuing a legitimate education in parallel with developing his skills in hockey. 

 

Of the group, Zach Jones has the most promising future with the organization. That being said, he fits into a relatively enormous group of defensive prospects in the Rangers organization that will all be jockeying for an opportunity in the next three to four years. 

 

 

 

Risers

 

Morgan Barron | Cornell University (ECAC Hockey) | 174th overall in 2017

The aforementioned strategy of selecting collegiate bound prospects in the mid-late rounds of the draft is a trend that seems to have caught on league-wide. It’s not to say that college bound players hadn’t been selected before, only that the benefits of making such a selection have begun to truly shine through in recent years. With more and more skilled players choosing the collegiate route, the security of making that type of a pick has driven NHL teams to pursue them later into the draft. 

 

Morgan Barron is an excellent example of a player who was selected in a late round of the draft and has benefited from the collegiate route. The Cornell sophomore who was drafted out of the USHS system has shone bright on a team with little for supporting cast. His offensive production spiked in his second full campaign in the ECAC, and his team leadership demonstrated clearly. In addition to his offensive success, Barron was named one of the conferences top-three defensive players for the year. His path to the NHL remains ingrained in the NCAA for now, however, his likelihood of being impactful at the pro level has significantly increased after what he’s shown over the last year.

 

K’Andre Miller | University of Wisonsin (BIG-10) | 22nd overall in 2018

Yet another collegiate level player prized by the Blueshirts, Miller has developed himself into such a player that stands an excellent chance of one day being regarded as the team’s 

number-one defenseman, in addition to being their best selection from the 2018 draft class. 

 

The rookie defenseman burst onto the collegiate scene with an outstanding offensive campaign at the University of Wisconsin. His offensive presence emulates that of a young Brent Burns in the sense that he too, has a history as a forward. Miller plays a tactically minded game from the blueline that emits a pro-like strength and confidence on the ice. His decision making is second to very few in his class, and as such his risk level remains low. Miller has broken the mold of his 22nd overall selection and will likely be a player who has scouts scratching their heads in two years. 

 

Yegor Rykov | SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) | 132nd overall in 2016

 

The Rangers defensive core that sits in the pipeline is packed full of mid-tier prospects who they’ve acquired in recent years. A player who is certainly a part of that core, however, seems to be regarded as a tier below is Yegor Rykov.

 

The Rangers made stake to their claim of Rykov this offseason by signing the defenseman to a three-year ELC that will bring him across the pond to replenish the departed and depleted core of the Hartford Wolfpack defense. Perhaps due to his lack of exposure in North America, Rykov has been able to keep a relatively low profile amongst the teams crowded defensive depth. His move to the AHL, however, should give interested parties the opportunity to view his game from a new perspective. The 22-year-old who was part of the package that the Rangers received from the Devils in exchange for Michael Grabner in the spring of 2018, has been a steadfast defenseman in the KHL for several years. This should be an opportunity for him to finally earn the respect he deserves among his prospect peers. 

 

Fallers

 

Ty Ronning | Maine Mariners (ECHL) | 201st overeall in 2016

Despite being a seventh-round draft-pick, Ronning’s status had grown within the Rangers organization after posting an 84-point season as a 19-year-old with the Vancouver Giants. 

 

The result of his success as a junior level player was enough to earn an ELC with the Rangers, however, seemingly not enough to translate to success, even in the AHL. After little success with the Hartford Wolfpack, the rookie pro was demoted to the Maine Mariners of the ECHL. Although his success there may have been enough to change the tides on his confidence, his potential of becoming an NHL player remains to be truly seen. 

 

With a changing of the authoritative guard in Hartford, Ronning will likely have a chance to hit the restart button on his pro career, however, he’s already removed himself from any relevant stage of fantasy prospectus, at least for now.

 

Lias Andersson | New York Rangers (NHL) | 7th overall in 2017

In contrast to the rise of K’Andre Miller’s prospect status, Lias Andersson has undergone a nearly equivalent tumble from the status once held by the seventh overall pick. Andersson has now certainly been eclipsed by Filip Chytil as the team’s top young centerman and his projection remains quite hazy. 

 

At only 20-years-old, Andersson has quite a ways to go before the term bust can be used in any context. His fantasy stock, however, has failed to grow as expected.

 

Ville Meskanen | Hartford Wolfpack (AHL) | Undrafted 

The Rangers brough Meskanen into the fold last Summer with hopes that the Finn would be capable of stepping into a small role with the NHL club, or at the very least, make an impact in the AHL.

 

While the 23-year-old contributed in moderation to the Wolfpack’s struggling offense, his production was not significant enough to justify maintaining much faith in his fantasy future. In time, he could become a more significant factor in the AHL, but in all likelihood we’ll never see him become an NHL regular. Unfortunately for him and the team, this was a small gamble that isn’t likely to pay off. 

 

Prospect Depth Chart

 

The prospect depth chart below is presented in the context of players proximity to making an NHL impact. In contrast, the top-20 prospects list that follows is an indication of how the group stacks up in terms of their fantasy ceiling. 

 

Some players you might notice a more stark contrast in how they vary between the two lists are Leevi Aaltonen, and Olof Lindbom – both of whom have a positive long-term projection, yet are unlikely to beat some of their fellow prospects to the punch. 

 

Left-Wing                                                        Center                                                        Right-wing

Brendan Lemeiux                                          Filip Chytil                                                   Kaapo Kakko

Cristoval Nieves                                             Brett Howden                                             Vitali Kravtsov

Tim Gettinger                                                 Lias Andersson                                           Vinni Lettieri

Leevi Aaltonen                                               Morgan Barron                                           Steven Fogarty

Ryan Gropp                                                    Karl Henriksson                                         Danny O’Regan

Patrick Newell                                               Gabriel Fontaine                                         Ville Meskanen

Dawson Leedahl                                                                                                                   Jake Elmer

                                                                                                                                                 Lauri Pajuniemi

                                                                                                                                                 Riley Hughes

                                                                                                                                                 Ty Ronning

 

                            Left-handed Defense                            Right-handed Defense

                             K’Andre Miller                                              Adam Fox

                             Matthew Robertson                                     Nils Lundkvist

                             Libor Hajek                                                   Joey Keane

                             Yegor Rykov

                             Tarmo Reunanen

                             Ryan Lindgren

                             Zach Jones

                             Jacob Ragnarsson

                             Nico Gross

                             Sean Day

                             Simon Kjellberg

                                                               Goaltenders

                                                                Igor Shesterkin

                                                                Alex Georgiev

                                                                Olof Lindbom

                                                                Adam Huska

                                                                Tyler Wall

 

Top-20 Fantasy Prospects

 

This section is intended to paint a picture of the Canadiens’ prospects whose current trajectory projects them making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration, however, potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list

 

  1. Kaapo Kakko
  2. Igor Shesterkin
  3. Vitali Kravtsov
  4. K’Andre Miller
  5. Filip Chytil
  6. Adam Fox
  7. Lias Andersson
  8. Matthew Robertson
  9. Karl Henriksson
  10. Leevi Aaltonen
  11. Nils Lundkvist
  12. Alexandar Georgiev
  13. Yegor Rykov
  14. Morgan Barron
  15. Libor Hajek
  16. Tim Gettinger
  17. Tarmo Reunanen
  18. Joey Keane
  19. Olof Lindbom
  20. Ryan Gropp

 

For other great information on New York Rangers prospects follow myself and fellow DobberProspects writer Alex Nunn on Twitter, or visit the Rangers prospect page on DobberProspects!