Here’s my first of many rankings starting with the Rangers organization. These players will all with very limited or no NHL experience. I will work on every team, and this is the first. All of these players are now in the same pound. I don’t care what round they were drafted in, I’m working with skills, upside, and the ability to play in the NHL someday.
- Alexis Lafreniere – This star left winger was the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and their best prospect. He will play in the NHL right away and have an instant impact. He should be able to get around 50 points in his rookie season, and he could be a top 20 player in the NHL in the future.
- Vitali Kravtsov – This right winger has six goals and eight points in his first 11 games in the KHL for Traktor. He got out of the 2020 gate much stronger than last season. He had some time with Hartford but only produced 15 points in 39 games. The Russian is a very good skater, and he has a ton of skill. He’s only 20, and he has to fill in that 6-4 frame, so the Rangers aren’t rushing him.
- K’Andre Miller – It will be interesting to see when this 6-4 defenseman starts skating on the ice at MSG. He was good at Wisconsin, a mediocre team, with 18 points in 36 games but his play in the World Junior Championship sagged a bit. At 20, he will play at Hartford this year but could be invited to Ranger camp to bridge the gap.
- Nils Lundkvist – This emerging defenseman signed to play with Lulea for this season, so he will play that entire season in Sweden before deciding his next move. He already has two goals and three points in six games. He’s a complete defenseman at the age of 20.
- Morgan Barron – At 6-2, 209 pounds he’s interesting. He had his best statistical season on a Cornell team that had Frozen Four hopes. Even though he was drafted as a center his play along the wall is so good that wing may be the best way to optimize his offense at the next level.
- Karl Henriksson – This 5-9 center is playing for Frolunda and has two points in his first six SHL games this season. Now 19, he’s a veteran compared to his teammate, Lucas Raymond. He’s a playmaker who has quick feet.
- Lauri Pajuniemi – This 6-0, right winger scored 26 goals for TPS last season, and he’s playing for them for another campaign in Liiga once again. He plays with a lot of drive and determination.
- Braden Schneider – He’s a really good all-around defenseman. He’s not great at one thing but has a physical edge, can play solid defense, and score some points.
- Hunter Skinner – This London Knights defenseman showed good puck retrieval and good skating when I saw him over last winter. He had six goals and six helpers in 32 games.
- Brett Berard – I last saw this 5-9, right winger play over last winter. He scored a goal in the All-American Prospects Game as a member of the NTDP. He agitates and skates well. He’s an interesting prospect for sure.
This is a deep system that has more players that just didn’t make the list. The Rangers have done a nice job of building it back up, and soon they will start to reap the rewards, and that’s the goal of drafting and developing.
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