Jayden Grubbe

Draft Recap: Focus On Size With A Couple Of Skill Guys

The focus in Chris Drury‘s first draft as General Manager, was clearly on size and physicality.  With nine picks going into the draft, the team would ultimately end up with eight new prospects, making just the one trade – sending the third round #80 pick along with the sixth round #168 to Washington for the third round #75 selection.

Over his predecessor’s term, there had been a big focus on skill players up until the 2020 draft, but that was clearly not the case this time around.  Of the six forwards taken, four have size and/or play with an edge.  

It started in the first round when they took Flint Generals left wing Brennan Othmann, an agitating player who likes to model his play on Matthew Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators.  Some see Othmann as being closer to the NHL than others, though he’ll almost certainly return to the OHL this Fall when the seaosn gets under way.

With no second round pick this year – traded last October to Detroit so that they’d take Marc Staal‘s final contract year – the team had to wait until the first pick of the third round – acquired from Buffalo in the 2019 trade that sent Jimmy Vesey north –  to select center Jayden Grubbe from the Red Deer Rebels.  As captain of the WHL franchise, Grubbe is a lead by example kind of player who likes to mix it up with his opponents. 

While he has some offensive instincts, it’s yet to turn into results and there’s certainly some risk that it doesn’t pan out for the Rangers.  His defensive game too is an area he could improve, but the hope is that there’s enough there to work with.  At 6-2 200, he brings the type of size that Drury has been focused on.

Overall Grubbe was probably taken a bit early, perhaps more of a late third-rounder than an almost second round pick.

For their second pick in the third round, the Rangers used their own pick to take play making center Ryder Korczak.  The Canadian pivot has put up good numbers for Moose Jaw, but is more of a perimeter player than the two Rangers selected ahead of him.  At 5-11 – 175lbs, he was the smallest player selected by the team, but he is more rounded than Grubbe with his play at both ends of the ice.

The knock on Korczak is his ability to play in traffic, with the 18 year old preferring to pass around the perimeter than go to the net like the previous two picks.  On any team you need a combination of playing styles, and Korczak’s has enough there to make it worth keeping tabs on him.

With three Canadians chosen in their first three picks, the team went with an American and a Finn in their first two picks of the fourth round.

Minnesota native Brody Lamb had an outstanding High School career in his home state, but ended up playing for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL last season after COVID intervened.  Committed to the University of Minnesota next year, he has the offensive talent to potentailly turn into a good pick from the fourth round if he can make the jump to the next level.  While he could’ve sat back and waited, he took the initiative to find somewhere to play last year.  At 6-1 165lbs, he will need to fill out a bit, and will get the chance over the next four seasons in the NCAA.

With their second pick of the fourth round, the Rangers chose their first European player, selecting Kalle Vaisanen, a lanky left wing from the TPS second team.  Playing on the second line, Vaisanen has shown some offensive abilities as well as a willingness to play with a bit of physicality.  At 6-4 and 178lbs, he still has room to grow, but could be another interesting player to watch and see if he can progress.

For their final fourth round pick, Drury went back to Canada to select towering netminder Tolyn Boyko.  The variously listed 6-6 to 6-8 netminder played on an underperforming Tri Cities Americans of the WHL, though seeing only 14 games after the WHL significantly shortened their season.  Boyko has been steadily climbing the ranks, though this draft had fewer options in net than some others in recent times, and there’s plenty to be done before he becomes a credible NHL option.  The good news is that he has managed to improve in his career to date, and so there’s possibility there.

With the 144th pick in the fifth round, the Rangers went back to Europe to take 6-4 198lb Right Wing Jaroslav Chmelar.  The 18 year old Czech played for the U18 and U20 Jokerit teams in Finland last season, and also appeared in five games for his home country in the World U18 tournament, picking up a goal and an assist.

Finally in the seventh round they picked their only defenseman of this year’s draft, 6-2 Hank Kempf from the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL.  Kempf has decent size and okay speed and offense.  He will play for Cornell in the Fall.

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