The second summer of GM Gorton having full control of draft picks and the Rangers new vision has been a few months of shake-up and reorganization. The proof of a new vision for the future and trusting the kids with the future was the hiring of Dan Quinn as head coach from the Boston University. Last offseason GM Gorton did not qualify a number of ex-draft picks that were still RFA's which lead them to leave the organization. With Chris Drury now running the AHL Wolfpack, all players are being developed in the "new Rangers vision" and all RFA's were qualified except for Adam Tambellini. All focus was on the NHL Draft and alot of the NHL writers and bloggers were expecting the Rangers brass to slide back into it's "safety mode" and bring in a few veterans for some of the picks the Rangers had collected with the major NHL Trade deadline moves.
At the 2018 draft, the Rangers sttod strong and true to the fans that they stated a rebuild was under way and to please be patient. The Rangers picked Vitali Kravtsov (who they had stated they liked early in the season even when they were expected to pick in the mid range of the first round---they had done their deep looking into everything about the player and his injury from the year before....especially if he intended to come over to the NHL ASAP). On the Rangers MSG account it's been reported that Kravtsov can buy out his last year on his KHL contract and actually asked Gordie Clarke what he thought and CLarke told him that he thinks he's ready to play in North America. Stay tuned to this .
The Rangers used the Boston 1st rounder obtained in the Rick Nash deal and the Devils #2 pick obtained in the Michael Grabner trade to move up and pick massive defenseman K'Andre Miller who has all the tools the Rangers are looking for in remaking their back line defense. The days of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal ar e over and the new puck moving, skating, big bodies are moving in with other additions Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren. With their 3rd pick in this years 1st round, the Rangers went with another dman from Sweden in Nils Lundkvist, who gives a different look and better mix of having different looks on the backend. The surprise was on day two in the 2nd round when the Rangers picked a goalie Olaf Lindom. The Rest of the Rangers draft it seemed that the Rangers went with the player they thought had the best skillset for what they needed in 3rd rounder Jacob Ragnacs, 3rd rounder(from Boston in Holden trade) defenseman Joey Keane, 4th rounder defenseman Nico Gross, 5th round forward Lauri Pajuniemi, 6th round defensman Simon Kjellberg, and then traded to pick in the 7th round for Riley Hughes. Overall a solid draft even though many Rangers fans were hoping for Whalstrom when he was still on the board in the 1st.
With the devopment camp just finishing up where the team prospects motto on the t-shirt was 'TRUST IN US", the rebuild is on solid ground. In an interview with Libor Hajek, he was quoted as saying that "he (Libor Hajek), Lias Andersson,Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, and Ryan Lindgren were asked to stay around in NYC all summer and be ready for the NHL camp to start.
On Free Agency in the past....all Rangers fans would be glued to July 1st to see what pieces the Rangers would add to complete the Rangers roster. This year the Rangers are looking for only a veteran piece or two that will help the future grow while being "protected". Under coach Vigneault they Rangers mindset was to just play hockey and not worry about the rough stuff but it left the Rangers players defenseless and banged around all over the ice. The Rangers have been rumored to be in talks with Stewart and Beagle but both have already committed to teams not named the Rangers as the Rangers didn't either fit the role they were looking for, for the money and term. The Rangers just want a year or two for a veteran that can teach. The best UFA that would fit the need is Leo Komarov as he speaks 4 languages and would be able to converse with the young kids in their language of origin while they get used to and learn English. Komarov is a no-nonsense type player and will also teach the players how to stand up for themselves. A trade for a Matt Martin type would cost very little and give them a protector. James Van Reimsdyk would be the big purchase if they chose to jump in after a top level player for a long term contract. If the Rangers want to keep an eye on the future and still make the splash to get a premier level player in NYC, Artemi Panarin which would cost a few of the Rangers picks and/or prospects.....but could be the player that takes the Rangers to the next level a few years ahead of time. Panarin becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer and has already stated that he wants to come to NYC as a top 3 destination.
LET'S GO RANGERS!!!!