New York’s head coaching search is over and that means the focus can now shift to the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville that’s set for two weeks. The Rangers have plenty of talented veterans that make their draft needs more of a luxury, but bolstering the 22nd-ranked prospect pool is something that the team should be looking to accomplish.
It’s not that the Rangers have a bunch of bad prospects. Brennan Othmann, Will Cuylle, and Matthew Robertson are all expected to compete for starting roles next season and bring something unique to the organization. But what was once a group filled with top talent has turned into a top-heavy farm system that could use some serious depth.
That’s where this incoming draft comes in. New York has five picks at the current moment, but in one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory, there is plenty of opportunities for the Rangers to improve their prospect pool.
Let’s take a look to see where the team could go when the draft kicks off.
First Round – 23rd overall pick: David Edstrom, C, Sweden
Edstrom has rocketed up draft boards since the World Juniors and his play during the season in Sweden. He’s got good size at 6’3″ and is a solid two-way player. Edstrom is a very smart player and possesses strong intangibles offensively to make him an interesting prospect. He’ll need to get stronger in the next couple of seasons but he’s the kind of prospect that fits what the Rangers want in their young players in a big way.
Third Round – 93rd overall pick: Luca Pinelli, C, Canada
The Rangers need a massive influx of center prospects. So doubling down on the position with their first two draft picks should not come as a real shock to anyone. In Pinelli, the Rangers get a smaller player than Edstrom but one of the best passers in the draft. Pinelli has strong offensive capabilities and is a very good skater. He should be able to make a name for himself once he’s called up. He may not be around when New York makes this pick, but if he is, this would be an easy decision for the team.
Fifth Round – 152nd overall pick: Hunter Anderson, LW, Denver
New York’s need at center sometimes masks the overall need for top wing players as well. As long as Alexis Lafreniere continues to struggle, the team will try to find alternative options. Anderson had a very good college career and has played for the Calgary Hitmen and should be a nice scorer at the big-league level should he develop like the team expects him to.
Sixth Round – 178th overall pick: Cole Knuble, RW, USA
Knuble has stood out during his time with Team USA in the World Juniors as of late. He possesses strong puck-handling capabilities and should be a strong pickup this late in the draft. The reason why he isn’t higher on most draft boards is that he’s not the strongest skater. If he can develop that skill, I think New York would be very happy with this late-round selection.
Sixth Round – 183rd overall pick: Axel Hurtig, D, Sweden
The Rangers aren’t going to go an entire draft without addressing their defense. Hurtig is 6’4″ and provides good physicality to help add to an already rich pool of defensive prospects. Hurtig doesn’t have much of an offensive game, but he has shown the capabilities to be a good defender with proper coaching. This would be one of the bigger projects for the team, but would certainly be worth it if Hurtig develops.