5 Best Rangers Longshot Draft Picks of All-Time

Who says you can’t win a Stanley Cup in the late rounds of the NHL Entry Draft?

The Rangers have done it. Well, that needs some explaining. In the later rounds, the Rangers drafted a player (Tony Granato, sixth round, 120 overall, 1982) they packaged for another player (Bernie Nicholls), whom they later traded with, among others, Louie DeBrusk (third round, 49th overall, 1989) for Mark Messier, for example.

They traded Tony Amonte (fourth round, 68th overall, 1988) for two forwards, one of whom now lives in Rangers lore – Stephane Matteau.

And they had two late-round steals in 1990 (Sergei Zubov, fifth round, 85 overall and Sergei Nemchinov, 12th round, 244th overall) who became key parts of their 1994 team. They also became two of the first four Russians to get their names on the Cup (with Alex Kovalev and Alexander Karpovtsev).

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Little known fact: The Rangers drafted a kid in 1987, with the 69th pick, in the fourth round, named Mike Sullivan, who later became the team’s assistant coach and has won the last two Stanley Cups as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And they once selected Kim Johnsson in the 11th round, 286th overall – the last pick made in the 1994 draft – a good enough player to play 739 NHL games. The Rangers traded him in a package for Eric Lindros.

Here are the Top-5 late draft picks (third round or later) in Rangers history:

1 Henrik Lundqvist (7th Round, 205th Overall, 2000)

Henrik Lundqvist Was Taken in the 2000 NHL Draft (MSG Photos)

It’s not even close. A future Hall of Famer who will have his uniform retired, and the face of the franchise for a decade, Henrik Lundqvist holds the team record for regular season wins (405, the most by a European-born goalie), shutouts (61) and playoff games played (128), among many other records.

His 405 wins are 10th in NHL history and second among active goalies (Roberto Luongo, 453).

He’s won a Vezina Trophy, Olympic gold, and a World Championship.

If Lundqvist ever wins the big trophy, he might be considered the best Ranger ever. And 204 picks passed before he was selected.

2 Tony Amonte (4th Round, 85th Overall, 1990)

Tony Amonte Rangers January 04, 1993. (Photo by Nury Hernandez/New York Post/Photo Archives, LLC via Getty Images)

One of the great U.S.-born scorers, Amonte came within a goal of Granato’s team rookie scoring record with 35 in 1991-92, followed with 33 as a sophomore and was probably three months away from winning a Cup with the Rangers when, after a rocky season with coach Mike Keenan, he was traded to Chicago for Matteau and Brian Noonan.

As a Blackhawk, Amonte put up six consecutive seasons of 31 or more goals, including seasons of 41, 43 and 44, and finished his career with 268 goals and 541 points.

3 Sergei Zubov (5th Round, 85th Overall, 1990)

1993-1994: Sergei Zubov of the New York Rangers. Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge/Allsport

Trivia question: Which player led the Rangers in scoring in 1993-94? It wasn’t Messier, Brian Leetch or Adam Graves.

It was Zubov with 89 points (12 goals, 77 assists), and one of the two best Rangers’ power play pointmen in generations. Zubov would win two Stanley Cups (one with Dallas), and Olympic gold, in a near Hall of Fame career.

He was also part of a trade with Pittsburgh that blew up in the Rangers faces with Petr Nedved, for Ulf Samuelsson and Luc Robitaille. The Penguins made a worse trade of Zubov to Dallas for Kevin Hatcher.

4 John Vanbiesbrouck (4th round, 72nd overall, 1981)

American professional ice hockey player John Vanbiesbrouck #34, goalie of the New York Rangers, poses for a portrait on the ice, Madison Square Garden, New York, September 1986. Vanbiesbrouck played for the Rangers from 1983 to 1993. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

John Vanbiesbrouck quickly became a very popular Ranger. “The Beezer” won the Vezina Trophy and led the team to a surprise run to the Conference Final in 1985-86.

He was traded to Vancouver for Doug Lidster so that the team would not lose him for free in the expansion draft of 1993, when he was picked by Florida. To that point, he and Mike Richter were 1 and 1A as the Rangers’ goalie tandem.

Vanbiesbrouck went on to win 374 NHL games (point of reference: Lundqvist has 405, Richter had 301).

5 Tony Granato (sixth round, 120th overall, 1982)

1990: Forward Tony Granato of the New York Rangers. Mandatory Credit: Allsport /Allsport

An agitating pound-for-pound forward who set the Rangers rookie record for goals (36 in 1988-89) that still stands. Granato was traded with Tomas Sandstrom (a second-rounder that same year) for Nicholls at the 1990 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh.

Granato would score 249 career goals, with 492 points in 773 NHL games, and would become an assistant and a head coach in the league. He is now the head coach at Wisconson.

6 Honorable Mentions

Ryan Callahan (fourth round, 127, ‘04), Mike York (sixth round, 136, ’97), Marc Savard (fourth round, 91, ’95), Todd Marchant (seventh round, 164, ’93), Darren Turcotte (sixth round, 114, ’86), Kelly Miller (ninth round, 183, ’82), Reijo Ruotsalainen (sixth round, 119, ’80), Tom Laidlaw (sixth round, 93, ’78), Mario Marois (fourth round, 62, ’77), Mike McEwen (third round, 12, ’76), Don Luce (third round, 14, ’66).