Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scotty Hockey shares NY Rangers draft thoughts

What's a more dangerous combo: Glen Sather and a check book or John Tortorella and a mic?

You know a team is in good hands when you see that the author South Park-ized himself, which is the case with our New York Rangers blogging buddy Scotty Hockey.

As often as Scotty sings the praises of Henrik Lundqvist, he'll also pump out poetic prose promoting the likes of Petr Prucha. (And like any good Rangers fan, he clearly has a soft spot for Sean Avery)

We've ripped the Rangers for having a buffoon of a GM and, subsequently, a team marred by horrific contracts but it would be a lie if we said there was nothing good about the Blueshirts. Scotty Hockey certainly puts a friendly face on the MSG gang, even if he's kind of mean to Sidney Crosby.

Avery: Dubes, I told you to forward my Vogue subscription to Dallas! Oh well, see you soon ...

1. What direction do you expect the Rangers to go in with this year's draft? What's your preference?

I think that Gordie Clark and the Rangers will continue to pick the best available talent while keeping an eye on character speedsters who can excel in John Tortorella's system. Glen Sather didn't bring Torts in to fill a suit, he is handing him the keys to the castle and will build a team that fits Torts' style - just as he did with Renney. Unfortunately the signings for Renney backfired and the coach couldn't adapt, leading to a ticket out of town. Tortorella came in and thought that last season's team didn't have the size or conditioning to compete in the playoffs so both will certainly be addressed. There will almost certainly be a goaltender added to the organization by the end of Saturday as '97 second rounder Antoine Lafleur turned out to be bust.

Personally, I don't really care who the Rangers get with their top pick, I just hope he has heart, character and is someone who will be capable of playing in the next year or two. It is sick to look at all of the top young talent around the league and remember that last season's Blueshirts had just one rookie play more than five games (Lauri Korpikoski). That will change next season with Anisimov and a defenseman or two likely to make the opening night roster but it needs to be an annual occurrence - especially for the duration of the albatross contracts of Drury, Gomez and Redden.

2. Looking back, discuss some of the highest and lowest draft moments in Rangers history. What are some of the "steals" and groan-inducing moments that NYR fans will never forget?

The highest moment would be the ninth overall pick in 1986, a American defenseman out of high school named Brian Leetch who is now being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 1989 draft gave up Steve Rice and Loui DeBrusk, who (along with Bernie Nichols) turned into Mark Messier. The lowest, well, probably that came after draft day but the death of Alexei Cherepanov. Cherry was billed as the next Jagr, who happened to be his favourite hero and then teammate. That kid had superstar potential, RIP. Personally I remember being at the 99 draft party talking to Dan Cloutier when he was pulled away by team personnell as he was traded. But more on that day in a bit.

For steals, well I think anyone that makes it to the NHL after being picked beyond the fourth round counts as a great revelation and the Rangers have had some success, especially in the sixth: Tony Granato, Kjell Samuelsson, Darren Turcotte, Mike York, Marek Zidlicky, Tom Laidlaw and Eddie Johnstone were all sixth rounders. As for the biggest late round grab, it was likely the Sarge, Sergei Nemchinov - picked in the 12th round in 1990 and engraved on the Stanley Cup in 1994.

Groan inducing? Where to start? First off, there was the Huge Mistake Hugh Jessiman - the only first rounder of 2003 (one of the best drafts everrrrr) to not make the NHL. Then there is the double disaster of Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark - and they were the only two players we picked in the '99 draft to even play a single game in the NHL. When they announced the Cloutier trade and those picks, I got up, yelled something obscene and walked out. Not a good day. And they weren't the worse of the bunch: how about Lee Falardeau, Jeff Brown or Stefan Cherneski? Or go back a ways and see Al Blanchard, the only first rounder in '72 never to play a NHL game. The Rangers believe they can't rebuild in New York and they are probably right, what with the way they drafted prior to the lockout.

Soapbox time: take this opportunity to discuss the Rangers and/or NHL in general.

The rumour mill has been churning with Dany Heatley announcing his desire to leave Ottawa and he really would look quite nice in a Ranger uniform, until he got bored or annoyed with the boos and wanted to be traded again. The Rangers need something and rumour has it Sather has something big in the works. It will be an interesting (and likely infuriating) week ahead. After the team didn't make it out of the first round and then had the nerve to increase season ticket prices, they have to do something to avoid a major fan revolt next season. If they thought my "Please Sens, Take Redden BACK" sign was bad, just wait until a raucous picket line forms outside, 'Hey, hey, ho, ho, Glen Sather's Got To Go!'

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