New York Rangers
The New York Rangers had another half-hearted draft experience. The team has not had a first round draft pick since the 2012 draft when the Rangers selected Brady Skjei. New York has drafted well in the past ten years. A majority of first round picks became NHL players while many lower round picks have also become established NHL players. So what’s the problem in New York? The Rangers haven’t accumulated a stockpile of first round caliber players, or at least any who are ready to contribute without extensive development. Instead, the team mortgaged its future trying to ‘win now.’ As a result, Rangers GM, Jeff Gorton has suggested that he is willing to listen to any offer that does not include Brady Skjei, Pavel Buchnevich, or Henrik Lundqvist. Gorton will be extremely busy this summer.
Despite being a rookie general manager, John Chayka already appears to be wheeling like an experienced veteran. The NHL’s youngest GM ever performed exceptionally well at the 2016 draft in Buffalo. Chayka made strong selections from the prospect pool with two picks in the top 20. Chayka also executed smart trades that should contribute to the success of his franchise. Acquiring a 19th overall pick in the form of Anthony DeAngelo in exchange for the 37th overall pick was a strong move. DeAngelo is a strong prospect who is already playing professionally in the AHL. DeAngelo is also just 20 years old. Moreover, DeAngelo is a right-shot defensemen, a position which one can never have too many of in the NHL. Chayka also bolstered his blueline for the upcoming seasons with the trade for and subsequent signing of Alex Goligoski. If Chayka maintains his current performance level, pundits and fans will not be calling him a rookie for long.
The Edmonton Oilers will almost definitely make a trade this offseason. According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, pending unrestricted free-agents Jason Demers and Milan Lucic were both in Edmonton on Tuesday, June 28. While TSN’s Ryan Rishaug suggested that should the Oilers sign the free-agents, it it is likely the Oilers will move one of their ‘six million dollar men’ in the form of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, or Taylor Hall. The Oilers also had a strong draft. Fourth overall, the Oilers selected exciting right-winger Jesse Puljujärvi. The Oilers still have a lot of work to do, but if they are able to secure a top pair defenseman, the team could be poised to have one of their top seasons in a decade. Even if that only means an 18th place finish.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs are still committed to their rebuild process, but with the recent acquisition of Frederick Andersen there is a little bit of hope for Toronto’s fans. Anderson is a good number one NHL goalie. Many attribute Anderson’s Jennings Trophy win to the defensive capabilities of the Ducks, but Andersen has a career save percentage of .918 which is very good. Now add Auston Matthews to the Leafs’ large prospect pool, and one would have to believe that the Toronto Maple Leafs will compete in the 2018-2019 playoffs. Toronto’s drafting will determine the heights the Leafs will reach, but with a plethora of top round picks, the Leafs finally look like a team on the rise.