by Jess Rubenstein
It is rather interesting to watch all the supposed experts taking their stab at who our pal Slats will draft with the 12th pick in this year’s entry draft. Depending on which “expert” you want to listen to or read the Rangers should come away with a very solid player for their future. This year’s draft is being called one of the most talented drafts in many years. With a draft that deep it would be hard not to expect Slats to come away with solid players in both the first and second round right?
Don’t be so sure about that as Slat’s history when it comes to drafting players has been really weak since 1990. Not to mention that when it comes to drafting players the most common mistake made is that it is Slats who actually does the picking of the player. That isn’t exactly true as in the case of the Rangers the person who really makes the choices is going to be Tom Renney the VP for Player Development. Slats will get the final say on who Renney wants to pick but it will be Renney who has to figure out which player will be the best fit for the Slat’s system.
It has been a lot of fun to see all the various experts holding their mock drafts to see who they think the Rangers will pick. TSN.CA says the Rangers will take Ryan Getzlaf of the Calgary Hitmen. The Hockey News says it will be Dustin Brown of Guelph Storm. Others say it will be Dion Planeuf of Red Deer or Zach Parise Who plays for North Dakota. Too bad not one of these supposed experts has tried to think like what Slats wants in a player for his system.
For starters if it is a defensemen then Slats wants the kid to have some size BUT he also has to be a strong puck carrier who thinks offense. In that case you can forget about Dion Planeuf, Brent Seabrook or any of the top rated defensemen. They all are actually the kind of defensemen Ranger fans think the franchise needs which is solid defensive minded defensemen.
For forwards Slats likes his players to have a ton of speed, a bit of size (but it isn’t all that important) but mainly scoring skills. He doesn’t look to draft solid 2 way forwards in the first round as he believes those are the ones you find in the later rounds. No the first round to Slats is going to be about offensive firepower not heavy checking.
Something else to consider when it comes to Slats is that he does like to trade down if he can in order to gain more picks. In this case then this year’s draft is the perfect draft for him to do this as the LA Kings own 3 first round picks (13,26,27). The Kings have been making a lot of noise about wanting a top 6 forward and are offering some of the draft picks for that player. If they can’t make the deal then they are going to want to move up in the draft to grab Hugh Jessiman since it is doubtful he will be there when the Kings make their other 2 picks in the first round.
That is where Slats comes in with his number 12 pick as the Kings might be willing to part with those 2 picks to insure they can draft the kid who’s nickname is Huge Specimen. Slats might have to toss in something more like some cash or another pick but a chance to grab 2 first rounders is something he won’t let slide. To make such a move would also give Slats a chance to quiet his critics about how empty the Rangers are in terms of quality prospects.
If Slats doesn’t trade down in this year’s draft then who would he take at the 12th position you ask? To figure this out one has to go back and look at what Slat’s run teams have typically picked in the first round. If you go back the last 10 seasons when Slats was the GM of the Oilers he went with mostly centers as his first round pick. If that is the case then Renney/Slats might go for Andrei Kastsitsyn from the Russian Central Army team.
Andrei Kastsitsyn is going to scare a lot of teams off because of the possibility that he suffers from Epilepsy. If not for the questions about his health this kid would be long gone before the Rangers picked at 12th. However he has all the things that Slats likes about offensive minded players which translated means he can be a gamebreaker with his skills.
If Slats backs away from Kastsitsyn then he will look at Konstantin Glazachev who is perhaps the purest offensive player of the graded Europeans. The bad news about this kid is that he has no idea what defense is which is why I fear this will be the kid picked by Renney/Slats come Saturday.
If I was going to gamble on what Slats would do then I would have to say that I believe the pick is going to be Glazachev. But I will be very very happy to be wrong on this one as this is a player the Rangers don’t need to add. The Rangers need players who will give them leadership and solid 2 way play for years. This kid I fear will get run out of NYC by Ranger fans if his rep as a diver is true.
To be honest if I had my say (wait this is my article, I do) the player I would pick with the 12th pick would be Ryan Getzlaf. I would take him because he offers the total package as a player but more importantly he offers something I have seen from any of the other Ranger young prospects which is leadership. I know the Rangers could use help on the blueline but this draft has so much depth that when the Rangers pick again at 43 in the second round they would be able to still grab a solid player to develop into a number 2 defensemen.
The only thing Ranger fans better not see is Slats using this pick to trade for another veteran player. That is the last thing the Rangers need and mark my words if Slats does such a thing then those at the MSG draft party might turn very ugly.