The Rangers went into the 2022 NHL draft with only four picks. Thursday’s trade of Alexandar Georgiev to Colorado gave the Blueshirts two more picks for this year’s draft and a third rounder in 2023. The trade of Georgiev was expected, the get was not. But with the highly competitive goalie market this year, as well as the feeling in Colorado that they needed a solid, but not elite, netminder to win the Stanley Cup again next season, Chris Drury was able to maximize returns for a goalie that was a backup in New York. The three draft selections was a big win for Drury and the Rangers, and they made the most of the two selections that the team could use this year.
New York had no selections in the first round on Thursday but, given how the draft started to unfold, how it was unclear who would be selected where, it was thought that perhaps the Rangers may move a piece or two to obtain one of the players in the first round. But Drury and company stood firm and waited until Friday to select.
Altogether, the Rangers had one selection in each of rounds 2, 3, and 4, two selections in round 5, and one in round six. In thinking about these picks, its helpful to keep in mind that, traditionally, by the time you get to round four, the player only has approximately 25% chance to make it to the NHL; the second round only approximately 40%. The stats are a bit higher now (I do not have access to the latest statistics), but when we say “make it to the NHL,” we are talking about playing one game or more–that’s not exactly what the draftee is hoping for as a career. The point here is that when a team has picks in the second through sixth rounds, each draft pick has a less than 50% chance of making the NHL, but that does not mean that these picks are insignificant in any way (as the chances are at least one or two will become NHL players–its a math thing).
Over the years, it seems that European players that are selected after the first round have an even higher chance of making the NHL than North Americans. This is anecdotal, of course, but the Rangers first selection on Friday seemed perfectly situated to make the NHL. Adam Sykora, who was selected 63rd overall, is a Slovakian left winger, who plays an aggressive, pesty, speedy game. Yes, he is a bit undersized, but he has a motor that never stops. He can play both sides of the puck and is an outstanding complementary player. Sykora was expected to go a bit higher than where New York picked him up at. It was a real win for the Rangers in the 63rd slot.
In the next round, the Rangers selected Bryce McConnell-Barker (97th overall). McConnell-Barker is a left center, who plays both sides of the puck well. He has good defensive instincts and decent size, but his game, including his skating will need some development before he can compete for a place on the Rangers’ roster.
Noah Laba, a big USHL right center was selected by the Rangers at number 111 overall. Laba is as much a scoring center as a playmaker, and he uses his size extremely well. Although originally committed to Colgate University, Laba has decided to go to Colorado College as a true freshman this coming fall.
With their first fifth round pick (number 159 overall), New York selected Victor (Vittorio) Mancini–a big right defenseman who is going into his sophomore season at University of Nebraska-Omaha. Mancini has good speed for his size and an excellent shot. Two picks later, the Rangers called the name of Maxim Barbashev, a defensive left winger, who has lots of grit to his game. The brother of NHLer Ivan Barbashev, Maxim is big (over 6’3″), tough, but needs to develop his game a bit more to be effective in the NHL.
With their final selection on Friday, Zakary Karpa, another left center, who will be a sophomore at Harvard University this fall. Karpa has a good shot, sees the ice very well, and has good hockey smarts.
With all the selections in the 2022 draft, the Rangers sought to fill in their needs over the coming years. After selecting high skill forwards and Braden Schneider over the past few years, it was time to make sure that young players who could support those already in the organization were available three to four years down the road. This was the perfect year to do this–a year where high end skill was less available than in some others. Next year, when the Rangers currently have 6 picks (including selections in rounds one, two, and three), it is likely that more high-skill, high-end players will be available to the team. Don’t be surprised if the Blueshirts add more picks to their current group of early round 2023 draft selections. The crop of available players looks approach the skill level of those drafted in 2003.