Over the past three seasons, the New York Rangers have put together an incredible pool of prospects. Through a very confusing, accelerated rebuild, they’ve been given some top picks and have made plenty of smart selections. It’s time to take a dip into the Rangers’ prospect pool!
Kaapo Kakko, F
Starting off this review will be the second overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Kaapo Kakko. Kakko seemed to be penned in as the set-in-stone 2nd overall pick for most of last season. As draft time came around, quite a lot of the general public realized just how good Kaapo Kakko is and started the Kakko vs. Hughes debate. The Rangers were gifted the Finnish forward after the Devils selected Jack Hughes, and in my eyes, they got the better of the two players.
Last season, Kaapo Kakko finished with 38 points in 45 game and putting up an astonishing 22 goals for TPS in the Liiga. Some skeptics may see it as him being carried by his more experienced teammates, but his -2.54% GF%Rel and 50.75 G% tell a whole different story. Kakko’s hockey IQ, skating, strength, and danger in the offensive zone make him a huge impact player. He should be getting regular top-9 minutes for the Rangers next season.
PROJECTION: First Line Forward
Vitali Kravstov, W
With the ninth overall pick in the 2018 Draft, the Rangers chose the Russian winger, Vitali Kravstov. Moving around the MHL, VHL, and KHL over the past few seasons, Kravstov was never given the chance to stick with one team for a full season up until last year. In his first full year with his KHL side, Traktor Chelyabinsk, the 19-year-old put up 21 points in 50 games. His most standout performance scoring-wise came in the 2018-19 KHL play-offs. In 16 games, Kravstov put up 11 points, scoring 6 goals.
Standing tall with a 6’4” stature, Kravstov uses his physical play to be a real impact player on the ice, but he also used his vision and awareness to create many opportunities in dangerous areas, but played on a team that struggled to produce offensively, so a lot of those opportunities led to nothing. Moving teams and moving up and down the depth charts, Kravstov never found a true home in Russia, and thus it isn’t always easy to judge how he will perform in the NHL. For me, all signs point to him being a crucial top 6 forward, creating chances and having the players around him that will allow him to flourish.
PROJECTION: Top 6 Winger
K’Andre Miller, D
Taken 22nd overall in the 2018 draft, K’Andre Miller seems to be one of the most promising defensive prospects in the league. Last year playing for the University of Wisconsin, Miller put up a very solid 22 points in 27 games. The 6’4” defenseman uses his size, skating, and knowledge of the game to dominate the game in the defensive zone and then become an impactful offensive asset when moving back up the ice.
Miller still has work to do on his offensive game, but he definitely has all the tools needed to make it work. K’Andre Miller will certainly need more time to develop, but after being given mainstay minutes in the Wisconsin line-up, he should be able to flourish.
PROJECTION: #2 Defenseman
Adam Fox, D
The Calgary Flames selected Adam Fox with the 66th overall pick in the 2016 Draft. He was later traded to the Carolina Hurricanes as a part of the Dougie Hamilton for Noah Hanifin trade, and then traded to the Rangers for a 2nd and a 3rd. Playing for Harvard last season, Fox put up 48 points in 33 games, leading the team in points and assists. Adam Fox’s two-way style of play is fantastic, and seems confident on both sides on the ice. Something the New York Rangers could really benefit from. A 44.53 Inv% (points per game divided by team goals per game) is a great number for any player, let alone a defenseman. As Fox finishes up his time in Harvard, there’s no doubt he’ll shoot right up into the Rangers line-up when he’s done.
PROJECTION: Top 4 Defenseman
Nils Lundkvist, D
With their THIRD first round pick in the 2018 Draft, the Rangers selected Swedish defenseman, Nils Lundkvist. Last season for Luleå HC in the SHL, Lundkvist notched 10 points in 41 games. His game revolves around his quick movement and decision making, as well as his smart style of play. Like most of the defensive prospects on the Rangers, he’s definitely not afraid to move the puck forward himself. Luleä HC themselves were also quite happy with his game in the 2017-18 season.
Lundkvist ranked third in TOI for junior defensemen in the SHL, only behind Rasmus Dahlin and Erik Brännström. The 19-year-old defenseman will return to Sweden next season, but he may be ready for his NHL call-up in the 2020-21 season.
PROJECTION: #4 Defenseman
Other Notable Prospects:
Igor Shestyorkin, G
Matthew Robertson, D
Leevi Aaltonen, F
Zachary Jones, D