The argument for the Rangers keeping all three 1st round picks
Well it’s all over. The Capitals have won the Stanley Cup, the first in their franchise. It’s also the first for a Russian captain and first for the “Great 8,” Alexander Ovechkin. A fantastic first year for the Vegas Golden Knights ended in heartbreak last Thursday night, but they can take pride in how deep they got in their debut season. So now the only things left are the NHL Awards and the draft before free agency hits and the long hot span of months without hockey begins.
All we can do now is speculate and hope our predictions come true for the betterment of the Rangers organization. One significant prediction most fans and analysts alike have made since the trade deadline so many months ago was that the Rangers will use their stash of newly acquired picks and prospects, along with some proven veterans, to move up in the draft to potentially snag a future superstar. As much as it pains me to say, I don’t believe this will happen.
More is Better
The Rangers have a total of three first-round picks, two second-round picks, and two third-round picks for a total of seven picks in the first three rounds. Since this draft has been regarded as “deep”, there’s a much better reason to keep a good chunk of picks, especially in the first two rounds. And yes, we all remember how poorly the Rangers have drafted as of late maybe more picks will give them better odds to land a great player. With how much success the Rangers have had with later round picks (Henrik Lundqvist, Pavel Buchnevich, potentially Igor Shestyorkin) they could end up with five to seven NHL caliber players on their hands. Now the only problem with trading up for a top 3 pick is that the Rangers will most likely give up at least their 9th overall and another pick in the first round to even come close to a deal with one of those teams also looking to rebound this year.
Will they even be able to trade up?
The top three picks in this draft are as followed: Buffalo, Carolina and Montreal. Those three picks are pretty much set in stone with Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina going in that order. The Rangers will not even try to trade with Buffalo because their defense is surprisingly more atrocious than their’s and Dahlin is a once in a lifetime player. Carolina seems to be the most plausible and likely option for a trade and their history trading with New York might not be the heavy price most are expecting.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Hurricanes have shown their intent to sell off a good chunk of their talent such as Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and even Noah Hanifin. What this means is that they might want to start fresh and retool their farm system with a new franchise player. Montreal is probably still healing from the Scott Gomez trade, so they’ll ignore Gorton. But seriously, Montreal has the same problem the Rangers do and need that franchise scorer, so the price will be too steep or they’re less likely to even give up the third overall pick.
9th Isn’t As Bad As You Think
You’re excited because the Rangers could have so many trade options with all their picks and all their veterans and RFAs they could let go of. Unless there’s a chance Montreal or Carolina budge and release their grip of the second and third overall picks, there isn’t much of a reason to trade up. Looking back at recent years of 9th overall; 2012 brought Jacob Trouba, 2013 had Bo Horvat, 2014 yielded Nikolaj Ehlers, and 2016 had Mikhail Sergachev. The talent is there and though they aren’t the game breaking players that win Stanley Cups on their own, they’re the pieces you want to have on your team. Also with the 28th pick in the 2012 draft the Rangers got Brady Skjei, meaning there’s still hope for those later first round picks.
There’s Always Next Year
Realistically the Rangers aren’t going to be a good team next year. Unless big free agents such as Tavares and Kovalchuk decide to sign with the Rangers (they do have almost $30M in cap before signing anyone) there isn’t a good chance they’ll be competitive next season.
Most likely they can be sellers at the deadline and could potentially get a top 10 pick once again. At that point all the prospects they accumulated this year and all the picks and prospects they could have at the deadline can be used to snag the first overall pick, Jack Hughes.
Though this is a full year away, he is slowly becoming the top target for the 2019 entry draft and will make an immediate impact come the 2019/20 season. This is all complete speculation and most likely will change within the next year, but it’s fun to make predictions. Until that time, the Rangers have three first round picks and we should all be excited for the draft in two weeks.