The Rangers have taken a defenseman with their first pick in two of the last three Drafts (and four of the last six), but Gordie Clark, their director of player personnel has said that they're leaning toward picking a forward with the fifteenth pick tonight. The last time the Rangers selected fifteenth overall, back in 1991, they drafted Alexei Kovalev, who won a Cup with them three years later and went on to score more than a thousand career points. So who might they take tonight?
Blueshirt Bulletin, which has been profiling options for the fifteenth pick for more than a month now, narrowed their guess down yesterday down to five names:
The best guess is that the Blueshirts will take one of Mark Scheifele, the offensive center from an awful team, Mark McNeill, the hulking two-way center, Joel Armia, the goal-scorer and power play specialist, Nicklas Jensen, the talented two-way left wing, or Tyler Biggs, the bruising winger that could turn into a Milan Lucic-like player.
That said, in the Round 1 mock draft in that same post, they have left wing Sven Bartschi slipping to the Rangers at No. 15. (We'll also note here that one of the players they profiled earlier this month, Lucas Lessio, has good speed for his size, agile feet, and 75 percent of a great last name.)
Andrew Gross of the Record looked at three players that might be on the Rangers' radar: McNeill, Scheifele, and Northeastern's Jamieson Oleksiak whose "6-7, 244-pound frame and on-ice poise may be hard to resist, though his offensive game (three goals, nine assists in 34 games) is not yet developed."
And over at NHL.com, the four staff mock drafts resulted in three different players going at No. 15: One staffer picked McNeill, the big center from Prince Albert of the WHL; one picked Mika Zibanejad (a center with "great hands"); and two picked Boone Jenner (a big, "hard-working" center who "does everything right, from scoring goals to killing penalties").
After that fifteenth pick, by the way, the Rangers don't select again until fourth round (106th overall). And they've got just two picks beyond that, both in the fifth round: Nos. 134 and 136 overall.