Potential Rangers Draft Targets for Pick 30: Wingers

“We don’t want another winger.” I get it, there is an abundance of wing prospects in the Rangers system already and the top of the lineup is fairly secure for the next couple of seasons – especially if Drury adds a top 6 RW as he is expected to do this offseason. We were saying the same thing a year ago. Still, at pick #30, the Rangers should take the best player available, which may be a winger, so looking at potential Rangers draft targets at the position is still needed.

Also, a wing prospect with star upside who should have gone in the lottery dropped to pick 23, and Chris Drury and his staff did the smart thing, taking the best player available at that draft position. While I agree that having a diversified prospect pool is ideal, the reality is that a prospect pool with more star prospects is better than one with diversity but no standout players.

Not to mention, many drafted prospects do not work out. When the Rangers took Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil in 2017 and traded for Brett Howden in 2018, many analysts thought they were set down the middle and should start targeting wingers. How did that work out?

I like players like Brett Berard, Brennan Othmann, Adam Sykora, and of course, Gabe Perreault. But it’s unlikely all four players pan out in the roles many expect them to play. Of those four players, Perreault is the only player I view as a surefire top-six player.

Soon Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider will need to be replaced in those top roles. So don’t write off a winger draft pick if that’s how things play out. Drafting the best player available is always the best strategy. There are plenty of good players who fall into this range.

Unlikely but Possible

Trevor Connelly – LW – Tri City Strom (USHL)
  • Bobfather: 15
  • Pronman: 24
  • Wheeler: 17
  • EliteProspects: 14

Trevor Connelly would likely be a controversial pick due to some of the character concerns surrounding him. The Athletic did an extended investigative piece on him, if you have a subscription. Make of that piece what you will, my personal take is that it seems unnecessary to go back so far in a player’s minor league career to dig up dirt, but some valid concerns were raised.

On pure talent though, Connelly is one of the 10 best players in this draft in my opinion. He is an outstanding skater with an excellent set of hands to pair with his speed, and he was extremely productive in the USHL (78 points in 52 games). I think he might be the best transition attacker in the draft. A lot of upside here and he could fall into the late 20s.

Cole Eiserman – RW/LW – USNTDP (USHL)
  • Bobfather: 14
  • Pronman: 16
  • Wheeler: 7
  • EliteProspects: 13

It is pretty crazy that there is merit to adding Cole Eiserman to this list, but I think there is. Especially if Drury pursues a trade-up of some sort. Celebrini is the best goal scorer in the draft, but Eiserman is the clear second-best and is the best pure shooter. Questions surrounding his play driving and quality as a teammate have caused his stock to plummet. I think the play-driving concerns are valid – he is definitely a finisher – but I don’t agree with the teammate concerns and he was weeks away from being 2025 eligible. I think he drops to around pick 20.

Liam Greentree – RW/LW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  • Bobfather: 18
  • Pronman: 23
  • Wheeler: 18
  • EliteProspects: 15

A 6’2″ 16-year-old winger who posted 90 points on a rebuilding team in his draft year, and he captained the team. It’s pretty unlikely Liam Greentree will be available. His footspeed is the main concern and reason why he might drop, but his skill level and shot are both well above NHL average. I don’t think he would be a home run pick, but if he falls there are definitely merits to taking a shot on him.

Igor Chernyshov – LW – Dynamo Moskva (KHL)
  • Bobfather: 21
  • Pronman: 18
  • Wheeler: 23
  • EliteProspects: 19

EliteProspects’ NHL comparable for Igor Chernyshov is Pavel Buchnevich. He is a hardworking, direct power forward with a very well-rounded skill set, who has impressed at both the MHL and KHL levels while playing in a limited role. Given the conversations about the need to add Matthew Tkachuk-style players, there would be serious merits to adding Chernyshov as he does not have the same skillset or compete questions that the previous three players have.

Realistic Targets

Emil Hemming – RW – TPS (Liiga)
  • Bobfather: 26
  • Pronman: 50
  • Wheeler: 19
  • EliteProspects: 40

Another power forward who spent most of the season playing at the professional level this year, Emil Hemming is a pro-sized forward who can skate and shoot the puck at a high level. The knock on Hemming is that his play has been inconsistent and there are questions about his compete, but I wonder how much of that is a lack of hockey sense. That might be enough to take him out of the running for me.

Marek Vanacker – LW – Brantford Bulldogs (OHL)
  • Bobfather: 28
  • Pronman: 52
  • Wheeler: 35
  • EliteProspects: 33

Marek Vanacker has definitely been a riser this season after taking a massive step forward production-wise, jumping from 16 points to 82 points. Apparently he made this jump playing through a shoulder injury, which is very impressive. He seems a bit underweight for his 6-foot frame but otherwise has a pro-style build and no real weakness to his game. I think he is more of a complementary player than someone you hope will develop into a top-six forward, but that has value.

Teddy Stiga – LW/RW – USNTDP (USHL)
  • Bobfather: 43
  • Pronman: 65
  • Wheeler: 33
  • EliteProspects: 23

Teddy Stiga is the realistic winger pick I would be most excited about. Before the season began, scouts were wondering which USA forward aside from Eiserman & Hagens would make the leap to become a first-round prospect. I don’t think many people thought it would be Stiga, but he had a wonderful season.

Stiga tripled his USHL production, scored 79 points in 61 total games (similar production to players like Matt Boldy & Trevor Zegras), and was one of USA’s best forwards at the U18 WJC. Stiga is small and may profile too closely to players already in the system like Berard and Sykora. But I think his skill level and upside are much higher than both players. He will join Perreault next season at Boston College and I think he will produce a lot in his freshman season.

Nikita Artamonov – RW/LW – Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)
  • Bobfather: 35
  • Pronman: 30
  • Wheeler: 40
  • EliteProspects: 25

From a pure statistical profile perspective, Nikita Artamonov is the potential star who should go in this range and will likely be available. For that reason, it is interesting to see his profile as a late-first in most people’s evaluation of him. Even as one of the older players in the draft, 23 points in 54 KHL games is nothing to scoff at. His underlying numbers show a brilliant playmaker who knows how to attack the middle of the ice with his passing. He also has a reputation for playing a quick-paced, highly skilled, physical game, which aligns with previous Drury draft picks.

Matvei Gridin – RW – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
  • Bobfather: 37
  • Pronman: 34
  • Wheeler: 38
  • EliteProspects: 91

Matvei Gridin led the USHL in scoring this past season with 83 points in 60 games. That statistical profile rarely leads to a player dropping out of the first round, and when you pair that with his size (6’1″) and shot, it makes his ranking even more confusing.

The issue with Gridin is that his play is too perimeter sometimes, and some scouts have questioned his effort. He also played on a line with one of the better center prospects in this admittedly weak center class. Not sure this would be the right pick for the Rangers, but he falls within their realistic range and will be a productive player at Michigan next year.

Andrew Basha – LW – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
  • Bobfather: 30
  • Pronman: 87
  • Wheeler: 29
  • EliteProspects: 18

I don’t think Andrew Basha fits what the Rangers are looking for because of his similarity to players like Sykora and Berard, and I do wonder how much of his production comes from playing on the same team as Gavin McKenna & Cayden Lindstrom.

Terik Parascak – RW – Prince George Cougars (WHL)
  • Bobfather: 25
  • Pronman: 37
  • Wheeler: 20
  • EliteProspects: 36

Terik Parascak was extremely productive in his first WHL season, posting 105 points. That is undoubtedly an impressive total, but it seems the criticism from all who watch him is that he is a passenger. A name to know, but I don’t think he fits as well as some of the other names mentioned.

Ryder Ritchie – RW – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
  • Bobfather: 31
  • Pronman: 49
  • Wheeler: 30
  • EliteProspects: 22

Ryder Ritchie was a bit of a faller this year after a really impressive rookie season in the WHL, but still remains high on most boards because of his speed/skill combination. There is some concern about him not progressing a ton this year, but he is young and finished the season really well with an impressive showing at the U18s.

You can check out my pieces on center and defense targets to prepare for the first round. There are rumors of a trade-up and there are also rumors of the pick being moved for immediate help. If they pick a player I did not cover…oh well. No matter how it plays out, I am sure it will be a fun night given the variance in opinion with this draft class. I will provide an analysis of all the Rangers picks following the draft!

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