Rangers Concentrate on European Players in 2017 Draft

The Rangers made seven selections in the 2017 draft, including two defensemen and five centers. All but two of those skaters played in Europe this past season. Most of the picks have one thing in common, they are fast skaters. Very fast. If I did not know better, I would think that the team drafted for current needs, as recent moves have left the team short at both the center and blueline positions. But I do know better, as none of the players selected will be ready to play on Broadway this season.

Rangers’ Development Camp starts tomorrow, and all seven of the 2017 draft selections are expected to be in attendance. So there will be more scouting reports later in the week. For now, here are some early appraisals of their assets and potential.


Linas Andersson, C, (HV71, SHL)

Drafted: First round, 7th overall

Height: 5’11” Weight: 201

The Rangers received the seventh overall pick as part of the pre-draft trade that sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to Arizona. It is the earliest pick the team has had in the draft since 2004. Andersson was somewhat of a surprise pick at this spot (all the scouting agencies had him below the top 10), who, despite his self-description as a two-way player, has top six potential. He is a play-maker, who can play on a shut down line (as he did in the U20 WJCs), but Andersson is best used in a creative role, where he can employ his high hockey IQ to initiate offensive plays. In addition, he has an excellent release on his shot. So Andersson has a lot of weapons in his arsenal. According to Goran Stubb, the NHL’s Director of European Scouting, “he shows very good attitude, works hard both ways, has smooth hands, and is very effective in the offensive zone, as he can both shoot and create scoring chances for linemates.”

Although just 18, Andersson has already bulked up quite a bit and did very well on the Combine testing. He is signed with Frolunda of the SHL (Henrik Lundqvist’s former team) through the 2018-19 season.


Filip Chytil, C, (HC Zlin, Czech)

Drafted: First round (21st overall)

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 192

No one was more surprised to hear his name called than was Filip Chytil. Still only 17 years old, Chytil was one of the youngest players eligible for the draft. He has a big frame and still needs to fill out, but he promises to have quite a bit of size and power up front. He recently played in the U18 WJCs and posted five points (2G, 3A) in as many games. Chytil also had a very successful Ivan Hlinka Tournament last summer. Although he says he will follow whatever the Rangers want him to do, Chytil expects to return to the Czech Republic this coming season for further development.

Chytil will be either a top-six forward or a bust in the NHL. His skating is some of the best in this draft, and he can dangle the puck like some of the best NHL players. However, he is inconsistent and, at times, makes poor decisions. He needs several years of development before making his NHL debut.


Brandon Crawley, D, (London, OHL)

Drafted: Fourth Round, 123rd overall

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 203

A local New Jersey boy, the 20-year-old left-handed blueliner just completed his third season with the London Knights. Brandon Crawley was in the third year of eligibility when the Rangers called his name in the fourth round yesterday morning.

Crawley is projected to be mostly a stay-at-home defenseman, who likes to play tough. He does not have the skating skills of the rest of the Rangers’ draftees this year, but he is aggressive and improving in this area. What he does have is a booming shot and Crawley can move the puck. Although over-age for the draft, he will likely still need another two years of development prior to being NHL-ready.


Calle Sjalin, D, (Ostersund, Sweden-3)

Drafted: Fifth round, 145th overall

Height: 6’1″ Weight: 179

Sjalin is a steady, mostly defensive defenseman. Like Chytil, Sjalin is one of the younger players eligible for the draft. At 17, he has a good size frame, which should fill out well over the next few years. Scouting reports indicate that he has a good conservative game, with better than average puck movement.


Dominik Lakatos, C, (Liberec, Czech)

Drafted: Sixth round, 157th overall

Height: 6’0″ Weight: 178

The 20-year-old Dominik Lakatos has good offensive instincts and can score as well as make plays. He skates well and can play a physical game, even though he does not have large size. He played well in the Four Nations Tournament but is still considered somewhat of a surprise pick in this spot.

Morgan Barron, C (St. Andrews College, HS–Ontario)

Drafted: Sixth round, 174th overall

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 200

Barron played seven games with Sioux of the USHL, but spent the majority of the season as a center for St. Andrews College team. A goal scorer while at school, Barron is a physical player, who could be converted to a power forward as time moves along in his career. He is off to Cornell this fall, and made sure to tell us that, although he is excited about the academic rigor of the school, hockey and his devotion to it will come first.


Patrik Virta, C, (TPS, Finland)

Drafted: Seventh round, 207th overall

Height: 5’9″ Weight: 180

As big as Barron is is as small as Birta is. With an early 1996 birthday, Virta was one of the oldest prospects still eligible for the draft. He showed a lot of offensive promise for the first time this season. He has two more years on his contract with TPS, but depending upon what he shows in Development Camp, Virta may stay in North America to continue his career.

About the Author

Leslie Treff

Leslie Treff is a contributor for NY Sports Day, covering NY NHL teams. She has been covering the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils for more than 15 seasons. Leslie is a recognized expert in hockey prospects and has served as a scout for several independent agencies. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, in her former life, Leslie was an attorney in the judiciary in New York City.

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