The New York Rangers are in a rebuilding phase. They sold off some assets such as Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden and Ryan Mcdonagh at the NHL trade deadline and acquired prospects and most of all draft picks in this upcoming 2018 Draft. While the Rangers have the ammunition or draft capital so to speak to move up in this year’s draft for a player like Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk or even Quinn Hughes, there are also a few quality players to have if they were to stay at 9.
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi – C (Finland)
If you’re looking for a potential future #1 center the only center in this draft class that might have that ability is Kotkaniemi. He is a skilled player who at 17 is playing against players much more older and seasoned than him. If you’re looking at points only, (29 points in 57 games) you will be disappointed. The team drafting Kotkaniemi will be drafting him based on his potential, much like other players such as Patrick Laine (33 points in 46 games) in the SM-liiga league. Kotkaniemi is only 17 years old and will be a top 6 center in the NHL with the ability and skill set to become a top line center in the NHL as he matures.
2. Noah Dobson – D (QMJHL)
Dobson projects as a two way defenseman with top pairing potential. He is a right handed defenseman who can move the puck very well which is essential in todays NHL. The Rangers have not been able to move the puck out of their zone quickly enough but this guy has the ability to do that whether he’s moving it to another teammate or skating the puck out of the zone. He has a strong shot from the point which is also something the Rangers defenseman have lacked maybe since Sergei Zubov. Some scouts believe that Dobson could develop into another Alex Pietrangelo which would be a coup for the Rangers at 9.
3. Evan Bouchard – D (London Knights OHL)
Bouchard is becoming one of the fastest risers in this years draft class due to his impressive size (6″2 195). Bouchard also is another right handed defenseman which are very valuable in the NHL today, just look at what the value is in trades to acquire one. Bouchard offensively has dominated the OHL (87 points in 67 games) this year and has the ability to develop into a top 4 defenseman in the NHL. He very well might end up the best offensive defenseman in this years class.
4. Adam Boqvist – D (SHL)
This on the surface seems like a long shot, some believe this kid offensively has the ability to become the next Erik Karlsson so why is there any chance the Rangers might be able to get him at 9? According to reports, some teams are becoming skeptical of Boqvist due to the two concussions he had last season as well as his smaller size (5’ll 165). While he may be on the smaller size, he possesses every skill you need in the NHL, he moves the puck very well, he skates well, and has offensive ability of a top line forward. Some may also be turned off that Boqvist seems to be less proactive in his own end, but the old saying here is true, you can teach talent, and Boqvist is oozing with it. The Rangers should run to the podium if he somehow slips to them at 9.
5. Oliver Wahlstrom – RW (USHL)
We have all seen the video of the penalty shot that this kid made when he was just 9 years old playing on NHL ice. Wahlstrom possesses something the Rangers haven’t had since Jaromir Jagr, a potential dynamic offensive player. Wahlstrom is said to have the best shot in the entire draft and with 22 goals in 26 games this season its hard to say thats not accurate. Furthermore, his performance in the 2018 WJCs did nothing but help his stock. Some have him only a step below guys like Svechnikov and Zadina who are projected to go 2nd and 3rd overall. Wahlstrom is committed to Boston College so any team that drafts him is going to have to wait for him. Could that help the Rangers who are in a rebuilding mode? The Rangers surely wouldn’t have a problem waiting for Wahlstrom if they believe he’s the next Ilya Kovalchuk as they’re not really expected to contend for the next few seasons as they figure out their next best course of action for this rebuild. If Wahlstrom were to somehow be available at 9 the Rangers shouldn’t take any time and run to the podium to select him.