Day two of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft turned out to be a mostly solid day by the New York Rangers. There was some addition by subtraction but also so reaches and a couple of picks that clearly must be viewed as projects.
If you were looking for a draft where the Rangers addressed all their needs, then you were disappointed. Still, as much as I am no fan of Jeff Gorton, he and his staff deserve some stick taps for a job that was mostly well done.
The Rangers started day two with no pick in the second round but took care of that by sending Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings for the 60th pick in the draft. The Rangers then used that pick on offensive weapon left wing William Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires.
Cuylle a 6’3 203 power forward likes to play a physical game but stresses that he isn’t a guy who plays dirty despite citing Tom Wilson as one of his role models. The best thing to like about Cuylle is that he hasn’t met a shot that he wasn’t afraid to take.
Whether it is off the rush, a set play, on the power play or any situation, if Cuylle sees a chance to shoot the puck then he will. An old school player who doesn’t think you need to make several passes to score, get the puck to the net and good things can happen.
Cuylle is no slouch when it comes to the defensive game either. He is known as a hard backchecker who prides himself on playing the whole 200 ft. game.
At 92 the Rangers selected center Oliver Tarnstorm of AIK (HockeyAllsvenskan or Second Division) and I must wonder a bit about the pick. Those who ranked him had him around 170 which is more fifth to sixth round.
The best one can say about Tarnstrom is that he is a playmaker who can create offense for his teammates with or without the puck on his stick. Also is good on defense as he is not at all shy at using his body to make defensive plays
I just don’t see him coming over to play in North America for at least two to three years which isn’t a bad thing given that he is just 18. Very much a sleeper pick who if he develops gives the Rangers a solid playmaking center.
The Rangers went with a goalie Dylan Garand of the Kamloops Blazers when they picked at 103 in the fourth round. Not the Benoit Allaire prototypical goalie at just 6’1 172, Garand is a very completive player who was having a very good season before it was stopped by the pandemic.
During the WHL season, Garand was third in wins (28-10-2-1), goals against (2.21), and save percentage (0.921). What is to like the most about Garand is that he is very calm under pressure as nothing seems to bother him during the game. Very good at keeping his emotions under control. Was invited to attend Hockey Canada’s summer virtual Under 20 evaluation camp and has a good shot at making the 2021 World Under 20 team.
The Rangers then made a trade with San Jose to add the 127th pick and used it on center Even Vierling of the Barrie Colts. Vierling is a grinder who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work in the corners to fight for the puck. Most likely a future defensive specialist/energy player, Vierling is a smart kid who still has room to grow as a player.
With their own fifth-round pick, the 134th, the Rangers used it on Brett Berard a 5’9 left-wing from USU18. The difference between USNU18 and USNTDP is that USNU18 plays exhibition games against NCAA Division one hockey teams.
Wanted to say that before mentioning that Berard was 16-18-34 in 41 games against those who were bigger and, in several cases, much older than he is. Heading to play at Providence College in the Hockey East, think a more thinking man’s, Brad Marchand. If he was over 6’ then he was a second or third-round pick, but teams were scared off by his 5’9 163 size. I look at his passing skills and think Mats Zuccarello as someone must get the puck to the goal scorers.
In the sixth round, the Rangers went from tiny to a giant as they selected 6’8 240 center Matt Rempe of the Seattle Thunderbirds. I saw him play four times last season and there wasn’t anything that stood out for me. Those who I also know cover the WHL say that Rempe vastly improved over the second half to make this selection a good risk. I also know that the Rangers have Tanner Glass (player personnel) and Steve Konowalchuk (pro scout) based out of Seattle Washington so they most likely saw a lot more of Rempe than I did.
Seattle was kind enough to get the following on Rempe from GM Bill La Forge and Coach Matt O’Dette
“It is a pleasure to see a player like Matt get rewarded for his hard work and perseverance,” said GM Bill La Forge. “It is a testament to his character and our team’s dedication to player development that sees him selected by the Rangers in the NHL draft.”
“Matt burst onto the scene this year and was an integral part of our team,” said head coach Matt O’Dette. “The work he put in and improvement that followed was eye-popping. To see it culminate into being drafted by the Rangers is fantastic.”
Rempe was named the Thunderbirds “Most Improved Player” for the 2019-2020 season. I still think of him as a project prospect but there are a lot of folks out here who really like him.
Finally, with the 197th pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Rangers selected goalie Hugo Ollas of Linköping HC J20. Ollas is a monstrous 6’8 240 and still growing. I will quote what Elite Prospects says about Ollas since I know nothing about him.
Ollas style in net is like a typical modern well-schooled goaltender; he goes down on his knees extremely early and uses his substantial 6’8 frame to stop pucks and to cut off shooting lanes. He never made any unnecessary movements and has a close to a robotic way to handle himself.
Overall, it is hard to find fault with the Ranger’s draft picks unless one wants to seriously look for warts. Alexis Lafreniere alone makes it a winning draft, but the Rangers also added a power forward, a couple of playmakers, and a defensive specialist.
For now, I say A-.