|Adam Tambellini (AP/Bill Kostroun)|
Going into the draft the expectations could best be described as middle of the road because the Rangers were doing most of their picking in the middle of the draft. That being said will I sit here and bore you folks to death with why I didn't like who the Ranger's selected? No sorry drafting is not an exact science and while I had my own ideas who I thought they should have taken, the Rangers had their own ideas.
Adam Tambellini was their first pick and I actually do remember watching him playing playing for Vernon in the BCHL 2 years ago when another Ranger 3rd round pick Steven Fogarty was playing in the same league. He had a good offensive skill set but as witnessed by the images of him, Tambellini makes a tooth pick look fat.
I like this pick for a couple of reasons starting with that Tambellini is going to play for North Dakota starting next season. I am a fan of Dave Hasktol the coach of North Dakota as he has done a great job keep North Dakota as one of the top college programs in the USA. The other reason is because Tambellini will take the college route then he can build his body while working on his defensive game while playing against some of the best college programs in the USA.
There is no question that Tambellini has a solid offensive game but he does need work on the defensive end. I would like to see Tambellini improve on his defensive reads as that would go a long way in improving his overall game.
See him in 4 years.
The second Ranger pick was left wing Pavel Buchnevich who plays for Cherepovets in the KHL. I have no idea of this young man so I will give you the link to his page on Eliteprospects.com and let you draw your own conclusions. He has 2 years left on his KHL contract so it gives the Rangers time to see how he develops on someone else's dime.
Anthony Duclair was the Ranger's 3rd pick in the 3rd round a 5'11 177 left wing who plays for Quebec in the QMJHL. I am glad that Gordie Clark pointed out that Duclair had and off-season this past year because otherwise it would have been hard to hide that I am not a fan of this pick at all. But since he did I will give Duclair a pass and see how he plays under his new coach in Quebec (reportedly it will be Philippe Boucher but it is not a done deal).
If Boucher does replace Patrick Roy as the coach of the Remparts then Duclair will be in a great spot as I really like Boucher as a teacher than I do Patrick Roy. Boucher rebuilt the Rimouski Oceanic into a QMJHL contender and I can see him doing the same with Quebec.
As for Duclair as a smallish winger then he is going to need to show major improvement over the next 2 seasons to earn himself a Ranger contract. He will have to do it as one of the top forwards for Quebec meaning he will be facing some of the other team's better players.
A good skater who has great hands and can score or create with the puck, Duclair has some serious flaws on the defensive side that will need to be addressed. Not at all physical which also will hurt his development but odds are good that his lack of size is what hurts him the most.
Ryan Graves is this year's Samuel Noreau as the 6'4 220 lb defender who played played for the PEI Rocket (now the Charlottetown Islanders) last season. A big shut down defender who just turned 18 and has 2 years under his belt in the QMJHL. I use Noreau as a comparison because Graves is on the same kind of learning curve as a big kid in the QMJHL.
I would love to see Graves be able to spend some time this summer working with Jeff Beukeboom and Adam Graves so he can work on his footwork and on ice vision. He is a project that is for sure but the Rangers do have the right kind of teachers for the job.
The final Ranger pick is MacKenzie Skapski who I know quite well as he is a goalie playing for the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. I got to see a lot of him over the last couple of years and this one has possibilities. It starts with going up against some of the best teams in the WHL and holding his own (12th best goalie last season.
He is also coached by former Hartford coach Ryan McGill and was the starter for the Ice playing in 65 games with a decent 2.78 GAA and a 0.910 save percentage off a 34-25-1-0 with 7 shutouts. Skapski is an older draftee as this was his 2nd time through the draft. Had a great 2nd half in the 2012-13 season including Goalie of the Month for February as he went 22-7-1 to help Kootenay earn a playoff spot.
Skapski was a workhorse playing in 65 out of the 72 Ice games plus 5 more in the playoffs. Needs to work on his positioning more than anything else. I like him better than I do the other goalies that the Ranger have in the system because he didn't come with any "warts."
Prospect Camp time
The Rangers put out their prospect camp roster and rather on telling you about who is who, I will tell you who to keep an eye on as possibilities. I start with Steven Shipley who played for Niagara in the OHL as I have to admit I was surprised that he didn't have a pro contract.
Shipley is a big hard working kid who Buffalo drafted in 2010 but choose not to sign. 6'3 210 who scored 32 goals last season as a linemate of Islander prospect Ryan Strome, Shipley scored some big goals for the IceDogs. He has a shot to earn a contract.
Troy Donnay is not a serious candidate to earn a spot on the Rangers but being 6'7 will attract attention. Played on a bad Erie Otter team but despite his size simply didn't stand out (no pun intended).
Then there is Ben Fanelli of the Kitchener Rangers who just by attending the Ranger's camp has overcome more adversity than any other player I have seen. In 2009, Fanelli was the victim of the dirtiest hit I have ever seen at any level and almost died on the ice that night.
Fanelli was lucky to be alive and most thought his hockey career was over as he didn't play again until the 2011 season. Fanelli founded a Brain Injury Awareness group called HEAD STRONG: Ben Fanelli 4 Brain Injury Awareness
Fanelli I am rooting for to earn a contract just because.