2018-19 Farm System Report: New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are entering into a long-term, comprehensive rebuild — the team, its players, and its fans all know it.
Fortunately for the Rangers and their passionate fan base, the franchise kicked off its rebuild in style this offseason, targeting and acquiring a bounty of highly talented and promising young prospects. In fact, of New York’s top-10 prospects listed below, seven of which were acquired either late last season or during the 2018 NHL Draft.
Now, although not all of which will be able to contribute at the NHL-level in the immediate future, it goes without saying that the Rangers have begun to lay a strong and deep foundation for their future.
Stanley Cups: Four
2017-18 Record: 34-39-9; 77 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Mats Zuccarello; 16G, 37A, 53PTS
Farm System Grade: A-
Top 10 Prospects:
- Lias Andersson
- Vitali Kravtsov
- Filip Chytil
- Libor Hajek
- Brett Howden
- Igor Shesterkin
- K’Andre Miller
- Ryan Lindgren
- Nils Lundkvist
- Olof Lindbom
The State of the Rangers’ Farm System
Don’t expect the Rangers to clinch a berth in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, yet don’t expect the team’s postseason drought to be long-lived either.
As mentioned above, New York currently owns a wealth of incredibly promising young prospects who could come to play substantial roles at the NHL-level. What’s more is the fact that these prospects grace each and every position on the ice — affording New York with a newfound sense of depth and positional versatility moving forward.
Of the lot, none are more promising — arguably — than Lias Andersson, the Rangers’ first round choice in the 2017 NHL Draft. As a forward who can play either centre of left-wing, Andersson’s wide-ranging skill set, versatility, and size make him an incredibly valuable asset. As competitive as they come, Andersson is a solid, team-oriented player who can mix in his fair share of offence owing to his strong shot and vision.
In addition to Andersson, the Rangers also gloat Vitali Kravtsov, Filip Chytil, and Brett Howden — three strong and dependable forwards who will surely skate for New York in the coming years. In Kravtsov and Chytil, the Rangers hold two dynamic offensive players who can change the outcome of any given game in a single shift. Moreover, the presence of Howden will afford New York with even greater scoring depth.
Meanwhile, on defence, the Rangers are equally potent.
Acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, Libor Hajek leads the way and is a sound two-way defender who plays a tactile game. A second round choice of the Lightning in the 2016 NHL Draft, Hajek’s size and ability to transition the puck to his forwards should allow him to log major minutes within a rebuilding Rangers roster in the coming years.
Further, New York holds both K’Andre Miller and Nils Lundkvist — two first round draft choices of the Rangers in 2018. In Miller, New York nabbed a towering yet fleet-footed defender capable of impacting the game at both ends of the ice. Further, in Lundkvist, the Rangers secured a mature puck-moving defender set to skate at the SHL-level in 2018-19 despite his young age.
Rounding out New York’s crop of excellent young prospects is goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
Now, although there are no guarantees that he will leave the KHL in order to join the Rangers, Shesterkin could quite easily be New York’s replacement for Henrik Lundqvist when his illustrious career comes to a close. Having posted jaw-dropping statistics in his KHL career to date, Shesterkin would surely be able to backstop an emerging Rangers team to surprising postseason success.
One Rangers Prospect to Watch
As a franchise saturated with high-end skill, let’s take a closer look at one of the Rangers’ lesser-known prospects — yet one who is immensely talented.
Somewhat lost in the blockbuster trade which sent Ryan McDonagh to the Lightning last Spring was Howden, a first round choice of Tampa Bay in the 2016 NHL Draft. Long a star player for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, Howden collected 267 points in his 248 games played at the major junior level and is undoubtedly ready to play in the NHL.
Boasting solid size and strength given his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, Howden is a mature player capable of leading his team both on and off of the ice. As the former team captain of the Warriors for two seasons, Howden brings a professional-style of play to the ice and with it an endlessly competitive nature.
Further amplifying Howden’s stock as an NHL prospect is his elite and consistent skill-set. Not afraid to battle in front of the net and a possession dynamo below the goal line, Howden can maintain puck possession with relative ease and can create lethal scoring chances having earned his time and space.
Sure to appear in a number of games for the Rangers this coming season and beyond, Howden boasts a whack of potential and could be the most valuable piece acquired by New York in their franchise-altering trade.