NHL DRAFT DETAILS
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Round 1: Friday, June 21 at 8 p.m.; TV: NBCSN
Rounds 2-7: Saturday, June 22 at 1 p.m.; TV: NHL Network
No. 2 (First Round)
No. 49 (Second Round, via Dallas)
No. 58 (Second Round, via Tampa Bay)
No. 68 (Third Round)
No. 112 (Fourth Round, via Columbus)
No. 130 (Fifth Round)
No. 161 (Sixth Round)
No. 205 (Seventh Round, via Columbus)
Through the draft and trades, the Rangers have acquired plenty of promising young players over the last couple of years, as they sought to rebuild. The one thing they seem to lack, pending the development of those players, is that foundational stud they can build around -- the surefire, can't-miss prospect who projects to be a star in the NHL.
Thanks to the Draft Lottery, they now have that opportunity with the No. 2 overall pick. Though that selection likely will be Finnish wing Kaapo Kakko, they will have their building block with either him or American prodigy Jack Hughes, who will likely be selected by the Devils first overall.
That the Rangers' new top prospect will be a forward is perfect for them as well, given the high number of defensemen they have. They need a game-changer up front. It also remains to be seen which, if any, of their young defenseman is capable of being a high-end No. 1. But, with the No. 20 pick traded away in the Jacob Trouba deal, we'll see what the Rangers decide to do when they pick again in the second round (No. 49 overall).
With the Draft just two days away, here are potential targets for New York this year...
KAAPO KAKKO, RW, TPS (Finnish Liiga)
The big-bodied wing will be just what the Rangers need as they look to accelerate their rebuild. Kakko should be able to play in the NHL right away, and if he acclimates quickly, it wouldn't be a shock if he earned his way into the top-six early on. The 18-year-old dominated at the IIHF World Championship, leading Finland with six goals and one assists on their way to a championship win.
EGOR AFANASYEV, LW, Muskegon (USHL)
Another big forward, this one standing at 6-foot-3. Afanasyev had 27 goals and 62 points in 58 games this past season for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. He's skilled with a heavy shot.
CAM YORK, D, US National Team Development Program
York is a great fit for the modern NHL, a good skater out of the back end who can move the puck and run a power play. The Rangers will always be intrigued by such players, but hopefully he can fall back to the second round as many might consider him for the first round.
VASILI PODKOLZIN, RW, SKA-Neva (Russian VHL)
Does the talented wing slide? He's considered a high-end talent who, under normal circumstances, could've been a top-five pick. But he's locked into his contract in Russia for the next two seasons, and he could fall if teams aren't willing to spend a first-round pick on him. Like York, the Rangers will have to hope he falls out of the first round entirely.