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Happy To Redo The Draft

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.

49Adam 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.

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JD Isn’t Glen Sather

Maybe I am a dreamer and it is wishful thinking but I believe that things are going to be different for the Rangers under John Davidson. I just have a hard time believing that JD is going to let Jeff Gorton continue the Glen Sather method of running the Rangers.

I say that because JD didn’t run either the St. Louis Blues or the Columbus Bluejackets the way Sather has run the Rangers. Yes JD signed free agents and made key trades but he built a homegrown core with his teams developing his own stars. Both the Blues and BJs were messes when JD took over and he tore them apart to rebuild the entire franchise.

The Rangers were a mess before JD got here with the rebuild already underway when JD accepted the job of Rangers President. What will change how things are run with the Rangers. For starters, JD will ensure that the rebuild remains the top priority and not try using shortcuts.

It might be a dream but JD won’t overpay for anyone as he saw firsthand the days of first Neil Smith and then Glen Sather overpay for free agents that were failures as Rangers. No more over paying for free agents when the Rangers are bidding against themselves.

No more of these four for one trades as if it is not reasonable then JD will just say NO. Yes JD will sign free agents and make trades but I think you will see them come in as reasonably priced and not those long-term killer deals.

I have more faith in JD if he decides to bite the bullet and buyout Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith. I also don’t think you will see Chris Kreider be left twisting in the wind like we watched Mats Zuccarello go through last season. Expect a decision on Krieder’s fate to be made before the draft this week.

I do believe JD will tell Jeff Gorton to ice the best possible team but not to rush any of the youth that has been signed so far. Hiring Tanner Glass strongly indicates that JD is going to push for more teachers among the Rangers staff than before.

I can see JD going “old school” and bringing in mentors for his youngest players something that Sather repeatedly failed to do. I remember that JD had former Rangers first round pick goalie Dan Blackburn live with him and his family in his first year as a Ranger.

Expect to see that happen more often on JD’s watch as it is the right way to develop instead of having 18-year-olds running around New York (hello Michael Del Zotto). I have faith in John Davidson bringing in stability as well as accountability to the Rangers.

It is either that or this dream of JD that I am having will turn into a nightmare.

Let’s Talk The Draft (Rd’s 3-7)

The easy part of the 2019 NHL Entry is over and one can say that the Rangers are already having a winning draft. But the Rangers still need to find depth as well as talent with their remaining five picks so here goes.

68— If Shane Pinto RW (6’2 195) of the Lincoln Stars (USHL) is here then grab him. Pinto who is headed to North Dakota is big RW who can also play center. He is a work in progress which is why you are looking at him here.

Strong passer who can read the ice well is also a good skater. Despite his size he needs work on in play in traffic as well as his shot selection. Worthy gamble if available but if not then would rather see the Rangers trade down to add more picks.

112— Rangers have to wait 42 picks due to trades before selecting in the 4th round and I am headed back to the WHL. I really like Reece Newkirk of the Portland Winterhawks here mainly because when I watch him play I see Ryan Callahan (also a fourth round pick).

The 5’11 170 center/left wing Newkirk had 59 points in 68 games and his size is why he is here in the fourth. Like Callahan, Newkirk plays with no fear at any end of the ice and is a human wrecking ball. Ranger fans will fall in love with this kid because of his heart and fight.

130— In the fifth I like a kid I got to watch when following Riley Hughes in Massimo Rizzo of the Penticton Vees (BCHL). The name alone says he is made to be playing at Madison Square Garden but seriously the 5’10 170 center/left wing is super fast and an excellent stickhandler.

Also heading to North Dakota, Rizzo plays bigger than his size and is rock solid in all three zones. Really love the way Rizzo’s on-ice vision works as he reads plays before they develop. Will be a serious threat on the power play the way he controls the puck.

161— Right Wing Aaron Huglen of Roseau Jr. Sr. High School in Minnesota. One of the more dominate high players in Minnesota, Huglen is a hard working forward who plays much bigger than his 5’11 size. A smart player who wins puck battles in the paint and will take a hit if it makes a play.

Huglen is heading to the Minnesota Golden Gophers where he will continue to grow and improve.

205— With their last pick, the Rangers are going to repeat their seventh round idea from 2018 and select another Boston high school player. Defenseman Braden Doyle of Lawrence Academy a Boston University recruit follows the path that last year’s seventh rounder Riley Hughes did by taking an extra year before heading off to college.

This one could be one of the better kept secrets as Doyle was selected by the Boston Bruins as the winner of the John Carlton Memorial Trophy. The award is given annually to the high school “who combine exceptional hockey skills with academic excellence.”

Doyle will play next season for Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. He is an offensive-minded defender who can take the puck from his end and lead the rush. An excellent puck-handler, Doyle is also impossible to take the puck from once he gets going.

Fits David Quinns system because he can either skate or pass the puck up the ice in a hurry. Needs work on his defensive side which is why he lasts to the seventh round but that is OK the Rangers will be happy to have him.

Let’s Talk The Draft (Rds 1+2)

Turun Sanomat

Kaapo Kakko (Turun Sanomat)

With nine days until the 2019 NHL Entry Draft gets underway in Vancouver British Columbia, it is time to start looking at the possible players for the New York Rangers to select. Thankfully the 2019 draft appears to be one that will hopefully allow the Rangers to add both quality and depth to the prospect pipeline.

The easy pick will be the first pick the Rangers have which is the second pick. The Rangers will have that pick made for them by the New Jersey Devils. Whoever the Devils do not select from Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko will be the Rangers choice at number two.

And despite the silly games the Devils are playing they will be taking Hughes with the first pick. Forget the World Championships, Hughes is the better overall player who will have the quicker impact at the NHL level. That is OK as Kakko is a better fit for the David Quinn system.

A man-child with perhaps the strongest hands and scoring touch, Kakko will be best suited to play right wing instead of center at the NHL level. He does need to hit the weight room but when his body does catch up to his talent then I can see someone who will eventually be among the NHL’s best goal scorers.

Kakko reminds me the most of Marcel Hossa, a player who when you need a goal will get it for you. Forget the fancy plays, Kakko just might rewrite the Ranger’s scoring records.

At 20, the question is who best to take and in my eyes when the Rangers sent the 37th pick to Carolina for the rights to Adam Fox that answer became defenseman Matthew Robertson of the Edmonton Oil Kings. Think of it this way, you take the offensive weapon that the 5’11 Fox is (right shot) and pair him up with the 6’3 two-way defender in Robertson (left shot).

I know most would prefer defenseman Mortiz Seider of Germany but just do not see him as a top pair defender. His rep has been made playing against “b-level” competition on the world stage and that is a major concern for me. Robertson is someone most don’t like among the “experts” and their mock drafts but I do.

The other reason I like Robertson is because of his defense, he reads his zones very well and is equally solid either “shadowing” or taking the game to the offense. After all the position is defense and the Rangers do need some of their defenders to actually be good defenders.

As I mentioned already, I call Adam Fox the team’s 37th pick and thank Carolina for the trade. Fox will be the team’s number one power play QB and he is no weak link when it comes to playing defense. A huge win-win here for the Rangers.

At 49 I actually like two WHL players who are just coming off their rookie seasons in the league. I doubt he lasts to 49 but if Brayden Tracey of the Moose Jaw Warriors is there then grab him. 36-45-81 in his first WHL season which was the best among rookie scorers but he is a very raw talent who is going to get better as he develops.

Tracey is an excellent skater but his nose for finding rebounds and converting them reminds me of a young Adam Graves. Not as tough as Graves but this kid has no fear when it comes to going into traffic and coming away with the puck. Seriously doubt he is there at 49 but we can dream.

The other prospect is Adam Beckman of the Spokane Chiefs, Beckman was going to be my “better kept secrets” but 32-30-62 and a strong first round performance against the Portland Winterhawks has people talking. Tall (6’1) but very thin (170), Beckman is good with or without the puck.

Beckman can play center or left wing but has a very good understanding of the game. Love his high hockey IQ and shows to be very coachable. He plays with the kind of 60 minute energy that Rangers badly need and the fans will love.

At 58 I like center Oleg Zaitsev of the Red Deer Rebels via Moscow Dynamo. Zaitsev is a “jack of all trades” who can be used anywhere in the lineup and be very good at it. For starters Zaitsev plays for Brent Sutter so he is never going to give you less than 100% every night.

His defense is strong and he isn’t afraid to use his body to make a play. Not a superior shooter but a very good playmaker. Zaitsev can read the ice better than most his age and the Rangers would be getter someone they could use with fellow Russian Vitali Kravtsov.

I know that I have given three WHL players for the Rangers but any one of these three would be very helpful at improving the team. As we get closer there will be other options to look at as well.

Welcome To Our New Home

Hello, it has been a while since most of you last heard from me. Sadly the Blueshirt Bulletin appears to be no more so I am back to being on my own. This site is a work in progress and I won’t lie I have no idea how to design a site.

I didn’t want to wait any longer as the New York Rangers are entering a critical period for the franchise. Yes hiring John Davidson as team president was a great start but that is what it is just a start. Davidson is going to need to overhaul several key areas for the Rangers as soon as possible.

Forget the draft as you still are weeks away as it overhaul starts with Hartford. While Chris Drury is the general manager of the team, by all rights they should hire an assistant for Drury. Said assistant can help with the scouting as well as track those prospects assigned to Maine of the ECHL.

If it was me, I would also hire a strength and conditioning coach for Hartford as well as upgrade the training facilities. These are players who the Rangers are hoping will be a big part of their future so investing as much as possible will be key.

steve-konowalchukAs for the next Hartford coach, I have been telling anyone who will listen that the best choice already works for the Rangers and that is former NHLer Steve Konowalchuk. Konowalchuk is currently an amateur scout for the Rangers but used to be the coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds.

With the Thunderbirds, Konowalchuk turned that team into a WHL champion while developing Matt Barzal and Ryan Gropp. The Rangers need a coach who can teach and that is Konowalchuk. He is a no-nonsense guy who has played in the NHL and has shown that he can turn programs around.

I would also swap the consultant title for an assistant coach and put Eric Raymond in Hartford on a full-time basis. Raymond is a disciple of current Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire and no matter which goalie winds up there, they will need a teacher.

The other assistant would be current professional scout Steve Eminger. The former Ranger isn’t too far removed from his NHL playing days that he would have instant credibility with the Hartford players. The days of using veteran minor leaguers to stock the Hartford roster has to end.

Yes, there will be growing pains but rebuilding won’t work if one tries to do it on the cheap. There is no salary cap when it comes to how much to spend of your minor league teams so now is the time to spend.

Housekeeping

Like I said this place is a work in progress so it will take sometime before we reach what I am wanting. One thing I want to bring back is the list of those who cover the Rangers. 
So if you are a fellow blogger or have a website and wish to be added, please contact me