Question: How lucky can the Rangers be in the up and coming National Hockey League Entry Draft?
Answer: Either very lucky or very-very lucky.
Fresh off of trading for Winnipeg ace defenseman Jacob Trouba, the Blueshirts come into this year’s draft with an easy decision.
Look at it this way: With the second overall pick — after New Jersey’s Ray Shero makes his momentous move — general manager Jeff Gorton will land either extremely-highly-touted Jack Hughes or the Finnish Flash, Kaapo Kakko.
Based on the comments of assorted hockey officials and scouts, the difference between the American (Orlando, Florida) center, Hughes, or the generously gifted winger from Finland is closer than pages in a book.
Four ex-NHL players, including the ubiquitous tv analyst Ray Ferraro, figure that the second pick is preferable.
The Reason: Since both Hughes and Kakko are lights-out future stars, the Rangers’ pick will experience far less pressure as the “left-over.”
Finland's Kaapo Kakko is an electric player and will land either with the New Jersey Devils at No. 1 or the New York Rangers at No. 2 in the 2019 NHL Draft. Here's what you need to know about Central Scouting's #2 ranked prospect. Don't miss coverage of Rookie Week all week long on MSG, MSG GO and throughout the MSG 150!
Newly-minted Rangers President John Davidson is as good as anyone to guide Gorton through the process.
It was Davidson as the Blues’ boss who drafted Alex Pietrangelo fourth overall in 2008. That same Pietrangelo was the player who hoisted Lord Stanley’s mug after the Cup was presented after Game 7 in Boston.
Another feather in JD’s drafting cap was inserted after the 2016 Draft when John plucked Pierre-Luc Dubois third overall for Columbus in 2016. Dubois at 20 already is a top NHL center.
Whereas the Number One pick, whoever he may turn out to be, will be blinded by the media, fan and management spotlights, the Rangers’ selection will benefit from second place.
Automatically, there’s less pressure on the second banana even if he eventually turns out to be the top one.
For Davidson’s Rangers to reach the very-very-lucky level in the Draft, they’ll have to hope that one of their lower picks turns out to be like Henrik Lundqvist.
A virtual unknown in the year 2000, King Hank was the Rangers’ 205th overall pick. All things considered, the Rangers’ gold-plated goaltender is en route to the Hall of Fame following his retirement.
A couple of other New York Draft longshots who proved valuable include Ryan Callahan (127th overall in 2004) and Jesper Fast (157th in 2010.)
According to The Hockey News, the Rangers are not looking at instant upgrades as they are experience and growth from the next generation.
“To that end,” The Hockey News observes, “giving meaningful minutes to youngsters such as Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson and Brett Howden will be the key to growing those kids in an NHL environment that still has a veteran presence for guidance.”
A one-two punch of either Hughes or Kakko along with Chris Kreider for the next decade would delight the citizens of Rangerville. Whether Jack or Kaapo is available in the second spot either prodigy will make the Blueshirts offensively better.
In the meantime, Gorton also will be considering the team’s long-term needs and that includes goaltending since Lundqvist will not last as long as The Statue of Liberty.
Gorton has no worries about Unrestricted Free Agents since there is none of the concern in that category.
The GM will be closely watching the hope-for improvement in Andersson as well as defenseman Libor Hajek who came over from Tampa Bay in the Ryan McDonagh deal.
While the aforementioned are vital for the Rangers’ future, they currently move offstage while the Blueshirts’ high command awaits Shero’s decision.
Rating, Hughes and Kakko, Davidson puts them in the deluxe category.
“I can see one of these nights when either Jack or Kaapo is the best player on Garden ice,” JD concludes.
The good news is that we’ll know soon enough which one will be the Blue Shirt.
As for the bad news, well, the good news is that there is none!
[Watch the MSG 150 NHL Draft Special Live Friday at 8 PM on MSG Networks & MSG Go. Get the App Now.]