Rangers Need to Hit a Home Run in the Draft
By Patrick Hoffman
When it comes to the NHL Entry Draft, it is an area that the New York Rangers have struggled in.
This team drafted guys like Pavel Brendl, Jamie Lundmark, Al Montoya, Hugh Jessiman, Bobby Sanguinetti, and many others that simply did not work out and ended up being complete busts. Yes, it is hard to predict how draft picks will turn out, but no matter how you look at it, the Blueshirts dropped the ball in several drafts.
The Blueshirts have been given a gift in this year's NHL Entry Draft. On Tuesday night, the Rangers got the second overall pick in the draft lottery. Yes, they just missed out on the number one pick, but the fact that they got the second pick in the upcoming draft is terrific news.
The Rangers' general manager, Jeff Gorton, needs to make sure he capitalizes on the special opportunity that he and this franchise have been given. Yes, I understand that this team is still in rebuilding mode, but that does not mean that the club should make an error in selecting the right player in hopes he will be a big part of the franchise moving forward.
With the New Jersey Devils being awarded the number one overall pick for the upcoming draft, their franchise will more than likely select Jack Hughes. Hughes has been talked about for the last two years as someone who can be one of the best players in the league right away and is someone that has elite-level talent and unbelievable speed.
That brings us to the Rangers pick. The player scouts are talking about going in this spot is Kaapo Kakko. Kakko is an elite Finnish 18-year-old right winger who has top-end talent.
In his article in The New York Post, Rangers' scribe Larry Brooks said the following about the team's potential pick in this year's draft:
"Kakko, who turned 18 in February, had one of the most productive seasons for a draft-eligible player in recording 22 goals and 38 points in 45 games for TPS Turku. He is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound left shooter who combines high-end skill with a physical mentality."
According to Brooks, Kakko should fit perfectly with what head coach David Quinn is looking for in his lineup:
"A star for the gold medal-winning Finns in the World Juniors and scheduled to play in the World Championships next month, Kakko fits neatly into David Quinn’s worldview, the coach having sent multiple texts to the GM in the wake of the drawing."
This is an unbelievable chance for the Rangers to get someone who could end up being really special. With Kakko catching up to Hughes in terms of his draft stock, this means that the team should be getting a potentially special player no matter who they get.
Ranger's fans need to hope that they do the right thing once they make their pick whether it's Kakko or Hughes. The last thing this franchise needs is another wasted top draft pick.
It's time for Gorton to step up to the plate and knock one out of the park.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.