Derek Stepan Shattuck

Rangers Draft: Day Two

In our second installment, we take a look at day two of the Rangers’ draft, and the addition of six more prospects, as well as the departure of Alex Bourret after just over a year with the Rangers.

Along with the trade of Bourret, the Rangers also sacrificed a seventh round pick as well as their 2009 fourth rounder to reclaim the pick they had dealt to St Louis at the deadline for defenseman Christian Backman. The pick was traded early on day one of the draft by St Louis to Nashville in exchange for goaltender Chris Mason, setting up the opportunity for the Rangers to reclaim their original pick

Pick 51: Derek Stepan – Center (Shattuck-St Mary’s HS)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 168
Shot: Right
Born: June 18th, 1990
2007-08: 54 games 36-55-91 16 PIM

As they did with Darin Olver a couple of years back, the Rangers went with a bit of a reach with their second round pick. Derek Stepan was not ranked higher than 61st by any of the five major rankings, and did not appear in The Hockey News’ Top 100 nor in the 75 players ranked or given honorable mentions by TSN.

A slightly built forward, Stepan has committed to playing with the University of Wisconsin next season, and is seen as a potential 1st or second line forward if he can put on some muscle. The pick is an intriguing one because it would seem on the face that the Rangers could have traded down and still gotten Stepan later in the second, or even in the third.

Perhaps they wanted Jared Staal (who went a couple of picks earlier to Phoenix) and this was their Plan B, or maybe they really are this high on the kid.

On a side note, the Rangers drafted his father, Brad Stepan 91st overall in 1985. Brad never made it to the NHL.

Scouting Reports
Derek is a very good skater who accelerates quickly, pulling away from his opponent. He is quick on the forecheck and he possesses a surprising reach. He has very good hands with a quick-release shot and excellent passing. He is a smart player who will continue to improve – CSB

The fifth-ranked Minnesota high-school player, according to Central Scouting’s final rankings of North American skaters, he’s the second-rated forward and top-rated center among Minnesota high schoolers… has excellent offensive instincts and big-time scoring potential, but is smallish and must get stronger in order to maximize his upside… will join the University of Wisconsin for the 2008-09 campaign, and could become an important offensive cog right away… projects as a top-six forward in the pros if he can improve his play without the puck – The Forecaster

Lanky pivot with good mobility .. has the velocity and stickhandling skills to outmaneuver opponents and move the puck efficiently .. however, he needs to be stronger on the puck, as he can be separated during contact and is vulnerable to going down .. building muscle, especially in the legs, is necessary if he is going to improve his chance of being successful at the next level .. – McKeens Hockey

Pick 75: Evgeny Gravchev – Center (Yaroslavl Lokomotiv)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 202
Shot: Right
Born: February 21st, 1990
2007-08: 1 game 0-0-0 0 PIM

The Russians in general continue to slide down the depth chart on draft day. Primarily because of the lack of a transfer agreement, but now with the institution of the Continental Hockey League, Russians have an added financial incentive to stay in Europe.

Gravchev was no exception, with the five major ratings all putting him higher than the #75 spot at which the Rangers drafted him. ISS had him at 24 and the Redline Report rated him at 34, both seem a little high given his pedigree, but still it gives Rangers fans hope that they may have secured a value pick in the third round.

Gravchev played most of last year in Russian juniors, but did make a solitary appearance for the men’s team. Originally thought of as a fourth liner, Gravchev has moved up the depth chart to show some offensive ability, and picked up five points in the World U-18s (and thus improved his projection in the draft). There are questions about his skating, agility and perhaps how much offensive potential he really has, but he certainly has the size.

At 6-3, 202 pounds, he has the size all scouts love but it is his supreme skill level that could make him one of the sleepers of the 2008 selection process… may be the second-best Russian forward eligible for the ’08 draft, behind Nikita Filatov, but rated ninth among International skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings… can play either wing position but projects mainly as a center in the NHL… has already expressed a lot of interest in moving to North America early, so he may play in the CHL in 2008-09… – The Forecaster

Quickly established himself as a player who was no longer going to be pinned to on the fourth line as was originally intended .. a good north-to-south player .. skates very well in a straight line, but is handicapped when attempting to turn as he is choppy and doesn’t use his edges nor his pivots effectively… – McKeen’s Hockey

Evgeny is a power forward with a good physical presence and ability to come up with the puck in traffic areas. He displays strong puck skills and the ability to make plays all over the ice, but needs to improve his acceleration and overall speed. – TSN

Pick 90: Tomas Kundratek – Defense (Ocelari Trinec)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
Shot: Right
Born: December 26th, 1989
2007-08: 14 games 0-1-1 10 PIM

Like Del Zotto and Gravchev, Kundratek saw his stock drop on draft day ultimately encouraging the Rangers to trade prospect Alex Bourret to the Coyotes in exchange for a second third round pick at #90.

Kundratek is your classic stay at home defender with little offensive skills, and in today’s NHL that probably hurts him a little. McKeen’s called his passing “ordinary” during the World Under 18s, though commented positively on his skating and reach.

Projects to be the latest Czech project for the Rangers, and they would likely want him to come to North America to see how he does on the smaller ice service, and whether he can perhaps develop more of a physical tint to his game.

The 6-1, 180 pounder was a member of the Czech Republic’s world under-18 squad in 2007, and followed that up with an appearance for his country at the 2008 WJC in his home land. He produced one goal, two penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating in the tournament… has already appeared in 36 games in the Czech Republic Extraliga, and could be a full-time member of HC Trinec in 2008-09… has some offensive potential, sound instincts for the defense position and is also right-handed–an added bonus… – The Forecaster

is strong along the boards, but should display more of a mean streak and be even more aggressive, in order to be effective .. has a weak slapshot, which lacks direction .. works hard though and knows when to play a simple game – McKeen’s Hockey

His stock dropped a little in the CSB Rankings after the World Junior Championship. He scored one goal in six games in the tournament and he ended up at No. 12 among European Skaters in the CSB’s final rankings. He is the highest-rated player from the Czech Republic – TSN

Pick 111: Dale Weise – Right Wing (Swift Current Broncos)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 206
Shot: Right
Born: August 5th, 1988
2007-08: 53 games 29-22-51 84 PIM

The Rangers made a trade to reclaim their fourth pick (sent their 7th round pick and a 2009 fourth rounder to Nashville) to draft Dale Weise.

This was the third and final time that Weise went through the NHL draft, but the first time he was drafted. He’ll be 20 in August, and will almost certainly play as an overager with Swift Current of the WHL. Weise was also the only Right Winger drafted by the Rangers this year, in a draft that was decidedly lacking in that position.

His age no doubt was one of the major factors for his modest breakout season. With 29 goals, he was tied for 25th in the WHL, though he only took 53 games to reach that mark, the 11th best ratio of goals per game in the league for those scoring 29 or more goals.

The Rangers will be hoping they’ve picked up a late developing power forward, though truth be told, he’d be the exception rather than the rule. Most power forwards already have had more success than Weise has had by this time in their careers, and the Rangers recent record of drafting older players has not yet paid dividends (Jonathan Paiment and Eric Hunter).

Pick 141: Chris Doyle – Center (P.E.I. Rocket)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 193
Shot: Left
Born: March 22nd, 1990
2007-08: 63 games 27-36-63 81 PIM

The Rangers no doubt got an extra look at Doyle before this draft, what with 2007 2nd round pick Antoine LaFleur tending nets for The Rocket. A two-way center, Doyle has plenty of aspects of his game to work on (not unusual for a fifth round pick), and the Rangers will be hoping for a little luck with this pick.

In his second QMJHL campaign, he placed second on the Rocket with 63 points in 63 games. He also finished second with 27 goals… participated in the 2008 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Edmonton… the 6-0, 193 pounder was rated 130th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings… has two-way potential but must play with greater consistency–both with and without the puck–in order to maximize his value as an NHL prospect… needs to add bulk so as to become a better pro – The Forecaster

possesses a quick release and hard shot .. skating needs more work, although he seemed to find the open seams on a regular basis .. not very active on the defensive side of the puck .. displayed ability to find teammates and made good passes in the open and in traffic – McKeen’s Hockey

Pick 171: Mitch Gaulton – Defense (Erie Otters)
Height: 5-11
Weight: 210
Shot: Left
Born: April 25th, 1990
2007-08: 20 games 2-5-7 19 PIM

The Rangers took a bit of a flyer with their last pick of the 2008 draft, selecting Mitch Gaulton coming off a season in which he missed all but 20 games with an elbow injury. Gaulton’s strength is his offensive ability, and while there are other aspects of his game that need improvement, Gaulton would have certainly gone higher in the draft had he not been hurt.

he was limited to just 20 games as a sophomore because of an elbow injury that eventually required surgery… the 6-0, 210 pounder has a lot of lower-body strength, which helps him play a physical game from behind the blueline… also displays smart decision-making and enough puck skills to produce some points at the highest level… was rated 81st overall in International Scouting Services’ final rankings… is considered a draft-day wild card – The Forecaster

Gaulton’s strengths lie in his puckmoving ability and shot .. he has a rocket of a blast however, too often he lacks the lateral agility to position himself to take it .. he is more of a stationary player, as he does not move his feet, making it easy to cover him on the PP despite his gifted QB skills…has the potential if he can put it all together .. his offensive skills make him a premium prospect however, he needs to show a better commitment to health and fitness .. must apply himself more and play with heightened desperation, as much more is expected of him this season – McKeen’s Hockey

Overall this was an inconclusive draft for the Rangers, with a higher degree of risk/reward than we’ve seen in recent years. There is no clear indication as to who is likely to be an NHLer and who isn’t. Del Zotto looks to be the most likely candidate, but the Rangers could look back on this draft and have no one that makes the NHL, or maybe even a couple of home runs.

By giving up Alex Bourret, they acquired a valuable third round pick, that they used to pick another player with questions about his potential. Bourret had failed in just over a season with the Wolf Pack, and the former first round pick will likely get his last chance to make an NHL career with the Coyotes.

Talk to us again in two years or so, and we’ll tell you how well this draft went.

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