Friday, June 24, 2011

The New York Rangers First Round Pick Should Be...

Over the course of the past month I have done previews of 10 different prospects: Mark Scheifele, Mark McNeill, Zack Phillips, Joel Armia, Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie, Matt Peumpel, Vladislav Namestnikov, Rocco Grimaldi and Tyler Biggs. The looks at these players was to find out more about them individually, along with how they might fit with the Rangers.
As I said earlier this morning, the Rangers are likely to go for a forward in tonight’s first round.  The names that seem to be most popular around the Rangers fans are Mark McNeill, Joel Armia and some for Tyler Biggs. If the selection were up to me it would not be any of those three, rather I would take center Mark Scheifele.  Despite playing on a poor Barrie team Scheifele managed to score 22 goals and add 53 assists in 66 games.
Beyond the statistics Scheifele has a reputation as an excellent two-way player that is where he is because of dedication and work ethic.  Arguably the most complete forward available in this portion of the draft, Scheifele has excellent playmaking ability, good vision and hands and plays both sides of the puck.  Physically he has the frame that you look for standing 6-foot-3, though he must add muscle and mass to his 177-pound body in order to maximize his potential. 
Everything I have seen written about him tells me he would fit into the type of players the Rangers want in their organization from both a hockey IQ and character standpoint.  The two-way style and willingness to go to the net would make him a natural fit for the system on the ice while having skill and upside.
Scheifele was way off the radar coming into this season, but has continued to climb the rankings and has been ranked 12 in Bob McKenzie’s final rankings as well as Red Line Report.  There have been a lot of comparison’s to Ryan Johansen who went number 4 last year to Columbus.  One that is closer to home for Rangers’ fans might be Derek Stepan with more height.
Other Options:
Mark McNeill: Bruising forward from Prince Albert that also put up good numbers with a less than stellar supporting cast.  Has more size than Scheifele, but possibly not the offensive upside down the road.  Likely to be off the board by 15.
Joel Armia: Tremendous sniper from Finland who at 6-foot-3 would be an intriguing winger to take, but concerns over his work ethic and one-way play could scare off the Rangers, if he is even available.
Trade Down: Scheifele or McNeill are the only players, unless Bartschi surprisingly slips, that I would stay at 15 to draft.  If both are off the board the team can move down to 20 with PHX or 25 with Toronto and still have similar players available.  At the later spots the main targets should be Matt Puempel, Nicklas Jensen or Tyler Biggs.