VANCOUVER, British Columbia — In the wake of their big Kaapo Kakko splash, the Rangers just went about their business making the rest of their picks in the NHL draft with little fanfare.
And that was fine with general manager Jeff Gorton, who wrapped up the draft Saturday by making two second-round picks and five more selections after that to supplement the highlight of the weekend — taking Kakko on Friday with the No. 2-overall pick.
“Unfortunately in seven rounds we can’t get seven Kakko’s. We know that,” Gorton said. “But, listen, each time we’re dialed in on a player, we felt good where we took them. Our table is excited, and maybe the buzz isn’t there like it was in the first round. But we really feel like we got some skill, some size, some skating. A little bit of everything.”
It started with big defenseman Matthew Robertson, going at No. 49. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder played for WHL Edmonton this past season, and said he got a little bit nervous as the names kept ticking off the board.
“Just hearing my name get called, it’s a dream I’ve had since a little kid,” Robertson said. “It’s a surreal experience just going through it.”
The Blueshirts then took Swedish center Karl Henriksson with their second second-round pick, No. 58, before adding another blueliner, American Zach Jones in the third round at No. 68. Jones, who was one of the many players taken out of the U.S. Development Program, is planning on attending Massachusetts in the fall.
“I blacked out for a second there,” Jones said about hearing his name called. “So emotional. I have no words to describe how incredible this feeling is right now.”
After grabbing one more defenseman, Hunter Skinner, in the fourth round at No. 112, the Rangers are adding to a very deep group of blue-line prospects.
“I doesn’t bother me at all,” Robertson said. “I think it’s good competition, it’ll push me to become better.”
The Rangers finished things up by taking winger Leevi Aaltonen at No. 130, center Adam Edstrom at No. 161 and winger Eric Ciccolini at No. 205.
Most of them will be at prospect camp, which starts Monday at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford while the team’s practice facility in Tarrytown undergoes renovation.
It should be quite a spectacle, as Kakko gets to show why the franchise has so much hope in him while the rest of the young players try to prove the Rangers correct for selecting them.
It is an exciting time in the rebuilding of the franchise, and Gorton and is ready to get it going.
“Look forward to development camp,” Gorton said, “when we can see some of these guys on the ice.”
Pick: Round 2 (49)
Team: Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Position: D | Age: 18
Height, Weight: 6-4, 201
Skinny: Known for being a dominant puck controller, the Rangers get a dynamic two-way blue liner from Edmonton. Can contribute at even strength and during special-team opportunities with his mobile skating abilities and strong physical presence. Stands out from the draft pack with a team-first attitude and being a go-to player for coaches. Has a solid one-on-one game, using his larger frame to his advantage.
Pick: Round 2 (58)
Team: Frolunda HC (SHL)
Position: C | Age: 18
Height, Weight: 5-9, 174
Skinny: Can put on the pressure at every corner of the ice as a gifted, offensive center. The left-hander from Sweden has soft hands and skillful stickhandling ability along with a knack for performing in tight situations. His quickness and agility make him a strong, confident puck handler. Coming off a strong showing for Sweden’s U18 in the World Junior Tournament with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 22 games. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with effort.
Pick: Round 3 (68)
Team: Tri-City Storm (USHL)
Position: D | Age: 18
Height, Weight: 5-10, 176
Skinny: The Rangers snag the UMass commit from Virginia who is considered a “natural hockey talent.” Despite being slightly undersized, this is an elite skater who can command a game at any direction on the ice. Known for being an aggressive, offensive-minded competitor who will jump on loose pucks and take the puck coast-to-coast. Has a talent for stretch passes and navigating congested areas of the ice.
Pick: Round 4 (112)
Team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Position: D | Age: 18
Height, Weight: 6-3, 174
Skinny: A Western Michigan University commit, the defenseman from Michigan registered 24 points (five goals, 19 assists) in 52 games last season in the USHL, and 13 of those points (two goals, 11 assists) came after a midseason trade to a new team. Has raw, athletic ability to work with during his development and his size is an added bonus.
Pick: Round 5 (130)
Team: KalPa in Finnish Liiga
Position: LW | Age: 18
Height, Weight: 5-9, 168
Skinny: Served as the alternate captain for Finland in the U18 World Championships where he recorded 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 25 games. The Finn is a speedy skater highlighted by a strong acceleration.
Pick: Round 6, (161)
Team: Rogle BK (SHL)
Position: C/W | Age: 18
Height, Weight: 6-6, 207
Skinny: A potential goal-scorer with tremendous size. Put up 16 points (11 goals, five assists) in 20 games in Sweden’s SuperElit.
Pick: Round 7 (205)
Team: Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL)
Position: RW | Age: 18
Height, Weight: 6-0, 170
Skinny: A dynamic offensive threat who has raw speed, skill and puck control. The Canadian commit to the University of Michigan brings size and physicality.
— Mollie Walker
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Source – https://nypost.com/2019/06/22/rangers-draft-a-bit-of-everything-to-compliment-kaapo-kakko-splash/
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