Alright I am no fan of Jeff Gorton but I have to give him his rightful due. The New York Rangers general manager has not made a single pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft but he has already won this years draft for the Rangers.
Give Gorton a standing ovation for turning the 20th pick into defenseman Jacob Trouba and the 37th pick into defenseman Adam Fox. Toss in either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko and already this is one of the best single draft hauls the Rangers have had in years if not ever.
Thanks to the Trouba deal, we get to redo our draft selections because Jeff Gorton has already addressed one big area and that is defense. Now we are going to focus on adding some top-line talent among the forwards.
2— The way this draft is going maybe New Jersey does the Rangers a favor and use the first pick on Kaapo Kakko. That means Jack Hughes is a Ranger and life for Rangers fans just got that much better. I will let Steve Kournianos tell you why with his talent.
See I like Hughes for more than his offense, I like Hughes for what he will do in the locker room as well as in the stands. He will make his teammates better just with his presence on the ice but give everyone else the confidence that the Rangers are that much better.
Don’t get me wrong, Kaapo Kakko is a great player but the difference between the two is that Hughes is also a leader on and off the ice. You can’t teach leadership and the Rangers badly need a vocal leader.
49— Adam Beckman C/LW of the Spokane Chiefs was the second leading rookie scorer in the WHL (32-30-62). I like him mainly because he gives you everything for an entire 60 minutes something the Rangers badly need. Tireless and relentless, Beckman has a high Hockey IQ and excellent on-ice vision.
Can score from anywhere but isn’t afraid of playing in traffic or taking a hit to make a play. David Quinn will like him because Beckman is very coachable and loves working on improving his overall game.
58— I originally had Shane Pinto going at 68 but his stock has risen so I need to grab him here. Heading to play for North Dakota, Pinto is a very solid prospect who can play either center or right wing. A good skating player who has size (6’2 200) as well as skill, Pinto is equally comfortable as a scorer or playmaker.
What makes him the right pick here is that if the Rangers do wind up with Hughes then they are giving him someone who can also protect him. Pinto is so good in the paint that whoever is his linemate, Pinto will get those “dirty” (rebound) goals.
68— There is an advantage when your GM is from the Boston area, his name is John Farinacci of the Southfield School in Massachusetts. A Harvard-bound center who is much bigger than his 5’11 stat says he is. Comfortable as a playmaker or scorer, Farinacci has maybe the most under-rated hands at this point of the draft.
Needs work on his first step and acceleration, Farinacci is a tough kid to fight against the boards for the puck. Defense is good and he is going to play for a good Harvard team. Give him three years at Harvard and the Rangers will have one heck of a player.
112— This is one pick I won’t change my mind on and that is Reece Newkirk of the Portland Winterhawks. I said it before, if there is a prospect who makes me think of Ryan Callahan it is Newkirk. Totally fearless and someone who will battle you for every inch of the ice, Newkirk is an undersized left winger who fans will just love.
59 points in 68 games, if he wasn’t a smallish 5’11 then he would not be here in the fourth. A much better passer than he is given credit for, Newkirk crashes the crease as if his life depends on it. To give you an idea on how good this kid is, the Winterhawks had him playing with Cody Glass a lottery pick of the Vegas Golden Knights. Teams will regret passing on him.
130— The fifth round is where you can roll the dice and take a chance on someone. I like goalie Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips who led the WHL in goals against (1.69), save perecentage (0.936), and shutouts (7) in his first year as a starter. He was a first team WHL All-Star as he went 41-15-2-2.
So you ask why is this kid in the fifth round? It is because he is barely 6′ tall in a day and age when the NHL has become addicted to 6’6 goalies. Don’t be shocked if this isn’t Team USA’s starting goalie when the 2020 World Under-20 tournament happens.
Super smart goalie who’s athletic and can read the ice really well. Very much worth the risk here as he will wind up in the NHL because Wolf refuses to let anyone tell him no. Take this kid and the Garden faithful will howl with delight.
161— An area where the Rangers can use some help is in toughness and 6’6 225 defenseman Jackson van de Leest of the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL is their guy. A true stay-at-home defender who can bring some nasty when asked (ask Ranger prospect Jake Elmer what happens), van de Leest will give his partner the freedom to join the rush.
A very good skater for a player his size, van de Leest even can offer more offense than your average enforcer but don’t expect him to join the rush. Good passer from his own end, David Quinn will like that he is more than a goon and isn’t a liability if asked to do more than fight. Worth it at this point in the draft.
205— So in 1990 the Rangers used a second round pick on a center named Doug Weight, in 2019 the Rangers will use their seventh on son Danny Weight of the USNTP Under-18 team. Young Weight is a good offensive weapon like his father with the passing skill set and quick release on his shot.
Danny Weight just isn’t as strong a skater as his father but he has four years at Boston College to improve his skating. Worth the risk based on having the same kind of offensive skills as his dad and the work ethic. If Boston College thinks he is worth a full scholarship then I would wager the risk of a seventh round pick.