Saturday, June 18, 2011

Now The Real Work Begins (Part 2)

There was a reason why I only went 1-14 yesterday to cover the New York Islanders and those drafting before the New York Rangers. Let's be honest here and acknowledge that the only pick that Ranger fans care about is the one they make.

Once the Rangers pick then very few of you are going to care who the other teams pick. And you know  I will be the first to acknowledge that out of 30 possible picks I could wind up with 30 wrong guesses.

That is all a mock draft truly is as if any of us was that smart we would be sitting at one of those draft tables instead being right here. But one thing I forgot to add last night which is while we tend to look at why a prospect is picked based on his hockey potentials there are other factors that can come into play.

It is never spoken but a team needing a new arena is going to look to appease locals as we think Edmonton is going to do. Then you have General Managers who just fired the coach which at times is done to cover for their bad moves.

Let's be honest here as you rarely going to find a well run team at the top of the draft unless they made a really bad deal (Hi Toronto) and the teams here are in trouble. Draft selections can also be for show to make the fans happy.

Which is a nice way to lead into what will the Rangers do with their draft picks? Because the Rangers picked up Tim Erixon for the 2 second round picks then the Rangers have already had a great draft before they make their pick.

But as nice as getting an Erixon was it also means the Rangers have thrown out what every plan they had for the draft and now need a new one. Honest truth when I was finished talking to Gordie Clark my gut feeling was that the Rangers were going to try to make a move upwards using one or both of the second round picks with the 15th.

That option is now gone so the first thought then becomes if you wanted to pick up another draft pick then you can trade downwards. Glen Sather has not done that as a Ranger General Manager as he has looked to move up in the first then trade down in the other rounds to gain more picks.

And while so many people believe center is the most pressing problem for the Rangers, it is not really as bad as the hole opening up on the right wing. Now please look 2 years down the road and not at this year's training camp in how to look at who to pick.

If the Rangers go Right Wing then the best options are Joel Armia 6'3 of Finland, Ty Rattie 6' of Portland, Niklas Jensen 6'2 of Oshawa, Tomas Jurco 6' of Saint John, Tyler Biggs 6'3 of USNTDP and Richard Rakell 6' of Plymouth.

OK the eliminations are easy as Ty Rattie is another Ryan Callahan which is nice but since you have the original why bother with a clone? Tomas Jurco plays for Saint John in the QMJHL which fails the Sather test but his magic act most likely will lead Tortorella to kill him about an hour into prospect camp (kid you not).

So now the remaining ones and why each would help but why not to take them

Joel Armia- Big kid who likes to set up in the crease but also has the wheels to keep up with Kreider and Stepan. Not afraid to use the body and his first step is nasty as blink and he is gone which makes him an equal to Kreider and Stepan.

Has to grow into his body which is typical of most prospects so no worries there, nothing has been said about how well he plays on defense which is a good/bad thing since there is nothing to judge.

Only problem would be when could the Rangers get him to North America? Right now best guess is 3 years which hurts his cause as the Rangers need him in 2 years when Kreider is expected to be ready.

Niklas Jensen on the other hand is already in North America and the Rangers due to Christian Thomas being his teammate know him well. Can play both wings, can skate well, is responsible in his defensive end.

Like how he reads the ice and reacts to what is there as he does not try to force a play. Not at all afraid to take a hit to make a play. If you look overall then Jensen is your favorite and at 15 he would not be much of a reach.

But if you are looking for someone to grow with Kreider and Stepan then he lacks the toughness to set up in the crease.

Tyler Biggs is a player who gets on your nerves which is why his stock has fallen like it has but he is my favorite and here is why. Mark Messier would have a man crush on Biggs as here is what Messier was like back in 1979.

In 1979, Mark Messier was one mean XXX and you did not want to piss him off. In 4 out of his first 5 NHL seasons. Messier had over 100 PIMs and was not above using his elbow on someone's head.

The knock on Biggs is exactly why I want him as people think he took too many penalties but why he took him makes them OK. Biggs has been a leader on every team he has played for and since he was typically also one of the bigger players was the local sheriff.

But what the critics are leaving out is that Biggs also plays on teams that wind up winning like the US Under-18 team which has captured 2 straight gold medals with Biggs. And Biggs knows to get up for the big games as Canada discovered in the semi-finals when Biggs scored 2 goals including the game winning overtime goal.

It also helps his cause that he is heading to Miami of the CCHA as Miami's coach Enrico Blasi preaches the team as a "brotherhood" which is a huge reason why Miami is one of the top programs in the NCAA. Blasi is a great teacher which also gives us great reasons to like Biggs that much more.
Put him on the right side of Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan and there is your first line for a very long time. Nobody will dream of running Kreider or Stepan with Biggs out there.

You can see some Milan Lucic in him as Biggs is a heavy hitter which tends to annoy people. But when you see how strong Biggs is in the trenches then it looks even better. Yes put him in the slot where he ties up the defense creating time and space for Kreider and Stepan.

So Biggs has dropped in just about every mock draft we have seen but when we look back at the history of players that Gordie Clark and Jeff Gorton have selected then Biggs is in the mix for the Rangers.

Glen Sather as Ranger GM has not traded down but if there was ever a draft to take that risk it is this one. The question is who to look at as a trading partner as 15 can get you Ryan Strome, Joe Morrow or Jamieson Oleksiak (6'7 D)

The only team that might also go after Biggs would be Toronto who picks at 25 and 30 so it becomes a chess match between old friends Glen Sather and Brian Burke. Burke loves drafting big American kids then unleashing them just as Biggs was just described.
Don Maloney is sitting at 20, Brian Murray at 21 and Ray Shero at 23 are holding on to extra picks that Sather really could use. And then there is a wild card that Sather has which will get Ranger fans booing if he did it but it would a smart move.

Take 15 and Dan Girardi for a swap of spots in the first then one in the 2nd and a 3rd in 2012. Before you trash the idea please let me show how it works especially with the Rangers looking at being stuck with Chris Drury.

Girardi is 26 with 3 years remaining on a cap number of 3.3 million and like it or not somebody is going to have to be moved if Del Zotto makes the team or even next year when McIlrath or any of the prospects with the Whale are ready.

That 3.3 million can be used to cover qualifying offers for Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Michael Sauer and John Mitchell (Schoeny wants to keep him we believe to replace Eric Christensen).  If it can recover draft picks then it is a move that has to be made as it buys Sather time as he will be able to find a replacement defender at training camp.

Now the last right wing Richard Raskell has not been talked about and for a reason as if the Rangers decide to go with a center in the first round and pick up a 2nd round pick then Rakell is who we would take.

Why look it is another smooth skating smart player from Sweden only this one is already in the OHL and is showing great promise. Great work ethic, smart and easy to coach as he laps it in and wants more.

He lead Plymouth in scoring despite only playing 49 games but he loves to play the physical game. Rakell we think just barely last until the 2nd round but if the Rangers get a pick in the 31-37 area then he is a great fit.

So in the end we have these 4 options

Stay at 15 and take Armia

Trade down to 20's and take Tyler Biggs

Take a center at 15 and move Girardi to get back into the 2nd round to grab Rakell.

Your turn

(Sather courtesy of the Rangers)


elroy said...

I'd be hesitant to move Girardi, that's a lot of minutes/game to replace, especially on the Right side where Gilroy\Eminger are already not expected back, leaving Sauer, who I like, but has only 1 NHL season, and an injury history. And Torts has faith in Girardi.
Out of nowhere question - why did Geordie Wudrick's stock fall so far that he's merely looking for an AHL deal, yet still unsigned? I've never seen him play, but the stats indicate a big body who can finish.

free0717 said...

How about we draft a center and keep Girardi

Leatherneck said...

I am with you...Biggs is the perfect fit for Stepan and Krieder in a couple of years...McNeill will also be a perfect fit...if we can get the 8 to the 11th pick and retain our own at 15 I would select both of them...we trade down...then Biggs and Miller...Biggs must be brought into the organization being that he is a perfect fit, now wether it is via the 15th pick or a trade with whom he gets up for debate...McNeill at 15 if he is there is a must pick

Jess Rubenstein said...


Like I said it is an unpopular idea but eventually someone is going to have to leave in order to create a spot.

Girardi is the guy who is attractive enough to have legit return.

Geordie Wudrick is looking for an AHL deal? Man I have to admit you caught me off guard as I was unaware the Kings gave up on him.

He was really good for the Rockets during the playoffs and while is never going to be a figure skater; his skating was OK.

He is a big body who can finish as he is hard to move once he sets up.

He will find a home once the draft ends, guys who put up 43 do not wind up playing someone where. Especially when you are known as a playoff player.


OK who do you want and when Kundratek, Niemi, McIlrath, Pashnin and maybe Parlett are ready where are you going to put them?

Girardi is the one who can be replaced and right now is in the greatest of demand.


McNeill would be a good selection but I just do not see him being there when the Rangers draft.

LOL on Biggs but I am picturing Messier at the draft table being asked if he had another kid out there.

Leatherneck said...

Kundaratek. Valetenko. Pashin, McIlrath, Erixon, Del Zoltto, that is 6 very good defenseman along with Gilroy, Eminger who are still part of this team...then you add in Staal, Sauer and year will not be our year again...I prefer we get a top 10 pick over a middle of the round pick...our year to come is in 2 years...that is When McIlrath, Krieder and hopefully Biggs join the core, I think Thomas and Erixon make it this What happens to the rest?..Del Zotto? Kundratek? Girardi? For now it appears it will be Staal, McDonagh, Sauer, McIlrath and Erixon as the incumbents on defense and that folks is a great place to be as an organization...there are assets in place where a solid trade can be made and add another great piece in next years draft...whatever the approach...the future is very bright...the top 2 lines in 2 years as is would be Dubi, AA Gabby? Stepan, Krieder Thomas?..Biggs? Dale Weise...let us not forget him as a 4th line player with Boyle and Prust...So that is potentially 3 lines in place as is...potential trade canditates are Gabby, Girardi, Anisimov and Del Zotto...that can definetely bring back a nice return...and if no trade that is not a bad group of four to have...I just hope fans realize we are still not there yet and not get frustrated with next year

Jess Rubenstein said...

I keep Del Zotto so you can have 2 big threats from the blueline to score.

Out of Kundratek, Pashnin, Niemi and Parlett I see them keeping Kundratek.

Pashnin is a great European but a under 6' dman in the NHL is harder and harder to have.

Nobody is going to want Gabby unless he finds a way to start scoring again not with as big a cap number

I think tonight maybe that is what I should do which is try to mix and match into lines

Thanks for the idea Leatherneck

elroy said...

the Kings forfeited Wudrick in spring'10.
here is the article where he says he'd like an AHL deal:

Jess Rubenstein said...

Thanks for the link Elroy, knew that the Coyotes had passed on Bloodoff which I thought was realy dumb but had totally forgotten about Wudrick as I did not think the Kings would pass on a guy with his size.

Guess it goes to show that this business really does come down to well business

I would give either prospect an AHL deal in a second as with Bloodoff you can not teach heart while Wudrick you can not teach size