The 2022 NHL Draft is just a day away with the New York Rangers currently in possession of 4 selections. With all the wheeling and dealing Chris Drury did this past offseason and in-season the Rangers own the 63rd, 111th, 159th, and 191st selections. The Rangers lost their First-Round pick to Winnipeg once the Rangers advanced to the Conference Final as a condition of the Andrew Copp trade. Their Third-Round pick was dealt to Vegas for Ryan Reaves. Drury traded their 4th Round-Pick to Florida for Frank Vatrano. He also sent their 7th Round-Pick to Tampa Bay for the UFA rights to Barclay Goodrow. The Rangers did re-acquire a 4th Round-Pick in the Brett Howden trade, which is the 111th selection.
This past week on The Broadway Hat Podcast I sat down with two of the best NHL draft analysts in Adam Kimelman and Byron Bader. Adam covers NHL prospects for NHL.com and his mock drafts are historically spot-on. Bader created hockeyprospecting.com and is also a draft consultant for NHL teams. They both give great insights on this year’s prospects and also discuss some options for the Rangers selections.
Recent Draft Success
One of the big reasons the Rangers have been able to accelerate their rebuild is the draft success they have had over the past 4 years. The Rangers are already getting great contributions at the NHL level by, K’Andre Miller (’18), Kaapo Kakko (’19), Alexis Lafreniere (’20), and Braden Schnieder (’20). They have top prospects who have had a taste of the NHL and next year have a chance to breakthrough in Vitali Kravtsov (’18), Nils Lundkvist (’18), and Zac Jones (’19). In the past two drafts, they have added some high-end talent that looks like they will be future Rangers very soon in Will Cuylle (’20), Dylan Garand (’20), and Brennan Othmann (’21).
Draft Day Targets
The Rangers first selection will be at the back end of the Second Round at 63rd overall so it is tough to say who exactly will be available then. I do think the Rangers will pick the best player available and not target a specific position. With only four selections they need to maximize the possible value of their picks. Let’s take a look at a few players I like that could be available for the Rangers.
Jack Hughes (C, Northeastern (NCAA))
No not the Devils star center, but Rangers 2018 draft pick Riley Hughes’ younger brother. Jack just finished his freshman season at Northeastern where he put up 16 points in 39 games. He is a 6’0 Center that plays a strong two-way game. His rankings are scattered. He is as low as 24th and as high as 73rd in the major scouting publications. He was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team follow this season.
Devin Kaplan (RW, USNTDP)
Who doesn’t love a local kid? The Bridgewater, New Jersey native played for the Jr. Rangers at the 2017 Quebec Pee Wee International tournament. He is a big winger 6’3 190 lbs that uses his size on the forecheck. The Boston University commit also represent Team USA at the U18 World Championships this year, where he produced a point per game. His rankings range from as low as 36 to 115. He played on a very good USNTDP squad and his production might have gotten overlooked by some scouts.
Lane Hutson (D, USNTDP)
This kid is already being called the steal of the draft. If it weren’t for his size, he would be a top 10 pick. At just 5’8 160 lbs some teams might be scared away by his size as a defenseman. The Rangers should not be. Putting up a point per game for the USNTDP some scouts are saying he is the best offensive defenseman in the draft. This week on my podcast, Byron Bader said he is destined to be a high-impact NHL player. His rankings range from 29th to 67th. There could be a chance he is still there and if so, Chris Drury should jump at it.
With the Rangers first selection in #NHLDraft at 63rd overall, a name to watch is Lane Hutson. He could be a steal for the #NYR. He is an elite offensive defenseman but is only 5'8. @ByronMBader shares why he is so high on him.— The Broadway Hat Podcast (@Broadwayhatpod) July 6, 2022
Full episode⬇️https://t.co/VSxhgbnkqO#NoQuitInNY pic.twitter.com/t0UCCTcNZV
Adam Ingram (C, Youngstown (USHL))
Ingram has been rising up draft boards following a 55-point season in the USHL. The 6’2 175lbs center was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team following the season. He was the leading scorer on Youngstown, which was the lowest-scoring team in the USHL. He was the driving force behind their offense. His rankings range from 27 to 83. The St. Cloud St commit could be a nice addition to the Rangers prospect pool which could use a few more centers.
Topias Leinonen (G, Finland)
The new trend in the NHL is to find a big goalie. Well, if that is the case Topias is your guy. At 6’5 235 lbs, he fills the net. Topias is currently the #1 ranked European goaltending prospect with most scouts believing he will be taken in the 3rd to 4th round. The Rangers have had success with drafting goalies in the mid-rounds so they could take him if he is still sitting there at 111th. Topias led Team Finland to a Bronze at this year’s U18 World Championships. He played a few games for JYP in Liiga, the Finnish senior league, and had some solid numbers for their U20 junior team.
Reid Schaefer (LW Seattle (WHL))
Schaefer is another player that is climbing draft boards. The 6’3 215 lbs winger has the size and goal-scoring ability of a future NHLer. Playing alongside Rangers 2020 draft pick Matthew Rempe, Schaefer scored 32 goals this season. He plays with an edge and uses his size in both the offensive and defensive zones. His physical play helped him rack up 88 penalty minutes in 66 games. He also showed up when his team needed him the most, putting up 21 points in 25 playoff games and helped lead Seattle to the WHL Final.
The NHL Draft kicks off Thursday night on ESPN and unless Chris Drury pulls off a trade the action for the Rangers will not begin until Friday when Round Two begins. With only four selections it will be interesting to see if Drury can move any of the Rangers pending RFA’s such as Alexandar Georgiev or Julien Gauthier for further draft capital. Be on the lookout for further draft updates and breakdowns as the Rangers make their selections.
Be sure to bookmark our hockey page for hockey coverage and follow Belly Up Hockey on Twitter: @BellyUpHockey. Follow me on Twitter for more takes on the New York Rangers and USA Hockey: @KHallNY. You can also listen to my NY Rangers podcast The Broadway Hat Podcast on Apple Podcast and Spotify for Rangers news and interviews with past and current players.