Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I thought this was supposed to be the “slow” part of the year.
While the Stanley Cup Final that we all knew and predicted looks all but inevitable, the Vegas Golden Knights hosting the Florida Panthers (yes – that is a joke); the New York Rangers, unceremoniously booted from the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, following their many no-shows from the first-round, are still making headlines.
For that matter, so are their alumni.
During a time where Gary Bettman would like all of the focus on his league’s playoffs; not only is the biggest media market in the United States, New York, NY, in the news; but so is the largest media market in Canada too, Toronto, Ontario.
(And I won’t even bother to bring up the Arizona Coyotes tonight – as I have already commented on their status last week.)
Then again, when one of your television/streaming rights partners, ESPN, would rather talk about the WNBA instead of a Conference Final game heading into overtime (and as they did during Game 1 of the Vegas/Dallas series) – then it’s only natural for fans to divert their attention elsewhere.
We have several “quick hits” to get into tonight, followed by our main event – revisiting the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
As I slap away at my keyboard here; in an update, my next book, with an expected Fall of 2023 release date, “The Top 100 Most Hated Villains of Rangers’ History” (working title), is nearly at the 50% mark.
I thought I’d be further ahead by now – but these Rangers from today won’t leave the back-pages! I can’t get a break from this site!
But the book is nicely coming along – and once published – I think you’ll laugh, cry and then perhaps laugh and cry again!
Let’s get into all of the news that has gone down since I last left you.
For as much as I always say that the Hall of Fame scribe, Larry Brooks, is the only reporter on the Rangers’ beat to break news; on May 19th, at 10:13AM, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple broke a news story himself, when he reported that the Rangers had fired their trainer/head of medical staff, Jim Ramsay.
At the time of Ramsay’s firing, he had been with the organization for 29-years and was their longest-tenured employee.
(As a result of Ramsay’s firing, Senile Glen Sather is now the longest-tenured Rangers’ employee. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Furthermore, I’m not including Sam Rosen as a Rangers’ employee, as his checks are signed by the Madison Square Garden Network.)
When Staple first broke the story (which has since been confirmed everywhere else), I was skeptical.
After all, and as outlined before on this site, Staple doesn’t exactly have the best reputation.
Between Staple’s fandom of the Islanders, and following Artemi Panarin calling the writer a “scoundrel” last year following a fake news report (a report that Staple ran away from and to never bring up again) – it’s just tough to believe whatever he writes.
However, I must give Staple his due, as he broke this story – and where seemingly – no one else on the beat had any clue that Ramsay’s job was in a state of peril – and that the fan-friendly trainer would be terminated.
But to give the rest of the Rangers’ beat a pass – who would’ve ever thought that Ramsay’s association with the Rangers would have reached its end?
As both a hardcore fan and famous author (I kid, I kid!), I can tell you that the thought of a new Rangers’ trainer for next season had never crossed my mind. Not once.
And I’m sure that many of you guys and gals felt this way too.
If you’re reading these words, then you already know who Jim Ramsay is – and I don’t have to give you his life story.
Simply stated: Regarded as one of the best trainer’s in the league (if not the best); Ramsay had admirably served the Blueshirts for 29-years, first starting with the 1994-95 season and ending with his recent May of 2023 firing.
(And unlike the nonsense that the Rangers tried to sell in their termination of Gerard Gallant – don’t get it twisted – Ramsay’s departure was not “mutual.” If it was, then the team would’ve released a flowery statement.)
There’s a lot to this story that doesn’t pass the sniff test, and as a result – speculation about Ramsay’s departure is running wild through the streets of Rangerstown, USA – speculation that the franchise could quell – but general manager, Chris “ZOOM ZOOM” Drury, in addition to his talents as a pizza-maker, is also one hell of a mute/mime.
In the effort of transparency (something that Drury doesn’t provide), let me be up front with you – I have no clue why Ramsay was fired – and since I don’t know why (and nobody else does either) – I’m against Drury’s decision.
I can only judge this story by the facts that we have – and we don’t have any. Until then, I’m on Team Ramsay!
Since Drury isn’t Brendan Shanahan, and doesn’t address the fans (and if you haven’t seen Shanahan’s press conference where he explained step-by-step why he fired Kyle Dubas – then go see it – as every team president, one of Drury’s titles/jobs, should speak in this fashion); the possible explanations, the speculation, on why Ramsay was fired, is wide-ranging.
Put it this way: The conspiracy theories being floated out there is akin to the JFK assassination.
Some people are suggesting that Ramsay was Elliotte Friedman’s mole, as the SportsNet reporter and co-host of “32 Thoughts,” from Toronto, broke the story about the screaming match that Chris Drury and Gerard Gallant had during Game 4.
While there is a Canadian connection between Ramsay and Friedman (Ramsay has worked for Team Canada during major international tournaments in the past); do you really think a trainer is going to risk his job by stooging off information?
(And yes – I’d love to know how Friedman, who hasn’t stepped one foot inside of M$G in years, was able to out-scoop the Rangers’ beat on this story. My guess? An agent tipped him off.)
Other people are suggesting that Ramsay was at fault over the health statuses of both Ryan Lindgren and Patrick Kane this season. Similar to the allegations about Ramsay being a “mole;” I don’t buy this idea either.
After all, Kane was already hurt prior to joining the Rangers and Lindgren is always banged-up.
Plus, Kane was never a problem during the playoffs – the healthy superstars, the “dynamic duo” who take up 25% of the team’s the payroll, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, were the problem.
(And speaking of Zibanejad, once thought to be untouchable when the Rangers could’ve traded for Jack Eichel two summers ago – how do you like the center of the Golden Knights right now? He’s done more in his first postseason than Zibanejad has done in his several playoff appearances – where once again, I’m back to this – “THE RANGERS’ WAY!”)
In addition, and to debunk this line of thinking – the Rangers took a very cautious approach with Lindgren once he received his shoulder injury, following the sneak-attack committed against him by Washington’s T.J. Oshie.
Sure, while Lindgren may have not been 100% during the playoffs; at the same time – that’s not on Ramsay.
Furthermore, every player is battling some sort of injury during the playoffs too. No team is ever at 100%.
And in the event that it even has to be said – if in some way, shape or form, that Ramsay could’ve done something else to help make things easier for both Lindgren and Kane – then are you really going to fire him following nearly 30-years of service over one mistake?
One more time – there’s more to this story – a firing that just reeks of desperation and scapegoating.
For some people, they may blow off this story and say, “who cares about a trainer?”
While yes, a trainer isn’t out there on the ice (unless he’s tending to an injured player), nor will he or she ever be the sole reason why a team wins a Stanley Cup; at the same time, a qualified trainer is very important.
After all, you can’t have Dr. Nick from “The Simpsons” on your payroll!
During games, there are injuries that need to be quickly addressed. And of course, there are long-term injuries to contend with too. An excellent trainer will always get his players back on the ice sooner than expected.
From all accounts – Jim Ramsay has always been an excellent trainer. I think his 29-years with the Rangers, and his multiple showings with Team Canada, would suggest as much.
While the main story is about Ramsay’s firing; it’s the fall-out that makes this termination even more peculiar.
For starters, it was Arthur Staple who broke the story – and not Larry Brooks.
In the time that has passed since Staple had broken this story – Brooks has tweeted and written several stories for the NY Post – but hasn’t said one word about Rammer – not even to mention the firing.
While it’s okay to be “out-scooped” for the first time in nearly twenty years by your fellow beat reporters; it’s not like Staple reported the reason why Ramsay was fired either. He had the “what,” but he didn’t have the “why.”
You’d figure that by now, Brooks would have the complete details.
And maybe he does – but since he’s a conduit for the organization – perhaps he doesn’t want to burn any bridges.
(And that’s my conspiracy theory!)
But for the outspoken Brooks to adhere to the “mum’s the word” adage – it is out of character for him.
Similar to Al Trautwig, who quietly slipped into the night, nary a word, and following nearly 30-years spent as an MSGN employee – the Rangers haven’t said boo about Ramsay.
Officially, the club has said, “we don’t comment about employee matters.”
Of course, every press release, every press conference and every piece of communication that the franchise puts out there, is about “employee matters.”
What they really mean is, “we don’t comment about employee matters that we don’t want to talk about.”
As of this writing, Rammer has yet to comment either – and it’s unknown if he’s seeking another NHL trainer’s job elsewhere.
We also have no information on who the next Rangers’ trainer will be.
Maybe Sieve Vagistat’s pal will be up for consideration, you know, this guy:
This story is a big pile of stink.
Drury could freshen the room by explaining himself – but that won’t happen.
Until he does, the rumor-mongering and speculation will continue – just as it did prior to the general manager firing Gerard Gallant.
Speaking of head coaches, let’s get into the latest on that hunt.
According to the word on the street, where you can listen to everything but maybe shouldn’t believe anything; Drury has already interviewed both Mike Babcock and Peter Laviolette, while also talking to Toronto assistant, Spencer Carbery.
Kris Knoblauch, following Hartford’s elimination from the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs, is also still considered as a candidate for the gig.
Patrick Roy, perhaps a long-shot, has also been linked to the Rangers, but based on the reports that are out there – Drury, and his former goaltender in Colorado, have yet to reconnect about the Blueshirts’ opening.
With Sheldon Keefe soon expected to be unemployed, following the Leafs’ ousting of GM Kyle Dubas from last Friday; his name has also been linked to the Rangers’ job. Keefe is also a name attached to the vacancies in Washington, Anaheim, Columbus and Calgary – and with the Flames hiring Craig Conroy as their new GM on 5/23.
As previously covered on this site, Friedman is reporting that there are multiple teams interested in Quenneville, pending the result of his face-to-face pow-wow with Bettman, which will take place following the Stanley Cup Final.
With the 2023 NHL Entry Draft rapidly approaching (and we’ll talk about the Rangers’ draft from five-years ago soon enough); it should be stated that you don’t really need a head coach at your draft table.
While (employed) head coaches are usually in-attendance; it’s not mandatory, nor required, either.
In other words, and as written in this space before – Drury can handle the draft himself – then wait to see what happens with Coach Q.
And should Drury take on this mission solo, and be without a head coach on June 28th in Nashville – then you’d have to think that the odds of the Rangers targeting Quenneville will increase.
After all, this franchise has a long history of being in love with big names, and no name is bigger than Quenneville right now. (And no one is a bigger star-f*$%er than Rangers’ owner, James Dolan, himself.)
While no one truly knows what Drury is thinking right now; the belief is that he’s leaning towards a head coach with experience, rather than a rookie bench boss – and as is evident by who he has already interviewed.
But at the end of the day – it won’t matter.
Don’t believe me?
Then just ask David Quinn, then a rookie head coach with the Rangers (and now 7-0 with USA Hockey at the 2023 IIHF Worlds Tournament), and Gerard Gallant, an established head coach and former Jack Adams Award winner, and who won the IIHF Worlds Tournament in 2021, prior to being hired by Drury.
When the crybabies, with guaranteed contracts, and all with no-move clauses attached, bawl their eyes out – then it’s always the coach’s fault.
As of this writing, and like most stories currently taking place in Rangerstown, USA – we have more speculation and conjecture rather than concrete facts.
Speaking of, that brings us to our next topic!
During a period of time in world history where the standards of reporting and journalism have never been lower – things aren’t much better on social media either.
(A new wrinkle that I’ve recently noticed whenever reading the New York Post? They don’t even have proof-readers anymore, as in every article that I read on their site, sports-related or otherwise – I usually can spot 2-3 errors. Maybe you spot several errors in my daily 10,000-word tomes too – but this is a hobby – and not my real-life gig!)
NHL fans are no different whenever creating “fake news” and trying to generate clicks.
Need an example? Just look at this graphic above: “IT WOULD MAYBE TAKE THE RANGERS A 2ND OR 3RD ROUND PICK TO GET RID OF BARCLAY GOODROW!”
There are so many different things wrong with that headline, where the most offensive words are “MAYBE” and “RID.”
While we’ve discussed Goodrow’s immediate future on this site in the past; one more time – forget his cap hit.
After all, for what he makes, he has lived up to his salary. I can’t say the same about everyone else.
Do you really want to get “RID” of the one player that can play all three forward positions and on all four lines to boot?
Furthermore, do you want to “RID” yourself of the only player under contract with two Stanley Cups to his name – one that also gives it his all – and perhaps the only forward with “grit” on the team?
And what’s with the word “MAYBE?”
What’s next? These headlines that even Nostradamus would envy:
— “THE RANGERS MAY OR MAY NOT BE A PLAYOFF TEAM IN 2024. WE ARE EXPECTING CONFIRMATION IN APRIL OF 2024.”
— “THE RANGERS MAYBE MIGHT SEEK AN EXPERIENCED HEAD COACH. MAYBE THEY WILL GO WITH AN UNPROVEN NAME INSTEAD!”
— “THE RANGERS WOULD MAYBE LIKE TO KEEP ALEXIS LAFRENIERE, BUT MAYBE HE DOESN’T STAY!”
— “MA, MEATLOAF, NOT MAYBE, RIGHT NOW!”
And I think you get my point!
It just can’t be me who rolls their eyes and shakes their head whenever reading this nonsense.
Instead of a “fake news” story, let’s talk about a real one!
On May 21st, Tate Rose Green took to Instagram to announce her engagement to the 2021 Norris Trophy winner, Adam Fox.
The two have been an item for sometime now.
However, should Fox have issues with his legs after kneeling on one bent knee – then don’t call Jim Ramsay to address the injury.
Congratulations to Fox and Green.
At this time, some quick playoff thoughts, before diving into our main meal.
While many worry about television ratings (and I doubt that the NHL really cares that much – their money is guaranteed for the rest of the decade); the NHL’s Final Four, exclusively featuring southern teams, has produced both entertaining and exciting hockey.
As I write these words, prior to the events of Game 3 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars; all five Conference Final games have been decided by one-goal each, and with four overtime decisions to boot.
(UPDATE: The Golden Knights defeated the Stars, 4-0, on Tuesday night. As it stands, both Conference Finals can end in a sweep. Once again, the best playoffs in all of sports remain totally unpredictable!)
As previously mentioned on this site – I’m on the Florida Panthers bandwagon, solely because of Marc Staal.
However, and ever since the Rangers’ elimination – I’ve really grown to love how this team plays.
(And just think – if the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t choke during the final week of the regular season, then the Florida Panthers would’ve been put to sleep – and with everyone questioning their head coach, Paul Maurice.)
Not only is Sergei Bobrovsky having a career resurgence, but Matthew Tkachuk, you know, the player who I wanted the Blueshirts to trade for two-years ago (Kaapo Kakko going the other way – and as mentioned a million times), is putting on a show.
While I will soon turn 41-years-old on June 13th; as an adult male – Tkachuk is making a “fan-boy” out of me!
The guy does everything right, and in a way, is a “unicorn” too – as there isn’t a player out there like him – except for perhaps brother Brady, out in Ottawa.
Tkachuk does it all – he hits, he agitates, he goes to the net, he makes clean passes – and when the shit reaches its realest – there’s #19 scoring goals in multiple overtimes during this postseason too.
The Panthers are currently up, 3-0, on the Hurricanes.
After watching Carolina drop a trio of games by one-score decisions, I wonder – are the fans in Raleigh claiming, “ROD BRIND’AMOUR DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE’S DOING. HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO ADJUST. HE HAS NO SYSTEMS!”
Then again, “maybe” (there’s that word again!) that’s just exclusive to Ranger fans – where a large chunk of them solely blames the head coach whenever the team can’t score.
(The Hurricanes have four goals in the series, and only one at even-strength. Of course, that’s more about Bobrovsky than anything else, as he and his team respectively channel Jonathan Quick and the 2012 LA Kings.)
And while I don’t want to go long-winded on this, because I’ve said all of this before – and multiple times at that – but no one covers hockey better than TNT. NO ONE.
Let’s explore this topic too!
No joke, and this isn’t just talk of a simp – “NHL on TNT” is not only my favorite hockey show on television – but my favorite show in all of television! It’s like “Breaking Bad” for puck-heads!
While ESPN uses NHL playoff games to promote an anti-American criminal making her return to a league that’s never turned a profit in its 26-years of existence (the NBA has subsidized the WNBA to a tune of over $2B during this time), and can’t be bothered to air pregame and postgame shows either; over on TNT, Turner’s crew have been presenting one-hour pregame and postgame shows – and where these two-hours are just as entertaining and fun to watch as the games themselves.
When you really break it all down – it’s amazing how night-and-day the two networks are.
Put it this way: ESPN is one of the hundred villains to be covered in my upcoming book!
When the NHL’s television rights deal with NBC expired following the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs; both ESPN and TNT had already made their pitches, and the league had also negotiated different deals with both networks.
The stage was set – heading into the 2021-22 season and beyond – both ESPN and TNT would televise the league – and to get started – both networks needed to start hiring some employees.
When you look at both ESPN and TNT today – it’s insane how one-sided, and in favor of TNT, the hiring process has turned out to be.
TNT has ESPN beaten in every which way, including:
— The Studio Panel: ESPN’s Mark Messier and TNT’s Wayne Gretzky cancel each other out. P.K. Slewban is a poor-man’s Paul Bissonnette, as the notorious slew-footer tries too hard to be a heel. Biz seems more tactical in his agitation. Liam McHugh, who comes off as a real fan, never mispronounces a name, unlike his counterpart, Steve Levy. Then, when you add Henrik Lundqvist into the mix – who is used much better on TNT than he is on the M$GN – it’s not even a debate – TNT is far superior.
Furthermore, the panel on ESPN comes off as forced, stuffy and “corporate.” On TNT, and since they dedicate their time to the NHL (they don’t have to rush), their stuff is light-hearted, entertaining and free-flowing. It feels like you’re at a bar listening to the crew as they shoot the shit. Hell, they recently had a conversation about “ball-gags” last Monday night!
— The Announce Teams: TNT’s Kenny Albert is the best in the business – and that’s not up for debate either. His long-time friendship and chemistry with both Edzo, and now the man running the show in Filthadelphia, Keith Jones, is clearly apparent. This trio, much like the TNT panel, always seems loose and organic. The same can’t be said about ESPN, as Ray Ferraro speaks as if he has marbles in his mouth. Sean McDonough, and as is evident by the camera shots of him seemingly hanging out in a broom closet – sounds like he’d rather be anywhere else – and perhaps calling a WNBA game that ESPN is always shoving down your throat instead.
— The “Sideline”/Bench Reporters: Jackie Redmond, who gets a lot of talk because of her looks, is extremely talented and knowledgeable. She’s not just a pretty face or a quota hire. Maybe it’s her Canadian-blood that gives her an advantage, but she’s always on-point – and always asks the right questions. You rarely ever hear her ask, “Did you like scoring a goal on that play?” or other such inane questions. Her counterpart, ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, isn’t necessarily “bad” – but she’s no Redmond either. Of the two, it’s Kaplan who asks the meaningless questions, such as, “What would a win mean tonight?”
While I believe that Redmond is better (and I guess she should be – she’s been in the TV game much longer than Kaplan) – I do like Kaplan’s schtick of saying “thank you” in a player’s native language following an interview. It’s a good thing to have a gimmick/calling card.
The Production: While the Epileptic Seizure Providing Network bombards you with 98767896789678967 awkward camera angles, where you’re shaking like Gary Bettman whenever watching ESPN; TNT keeps it simple and old-school. As the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.”
Furthermore, ESPN broadcasts often feels like they are being produced by your local middle school’s A/V club, as every game features non-stop production errors, including sound, video and replay. You never find/see/hear these errors on TNT broadcasts.
The Presentation: TNT treats the NHL as if it were a prime-time broadcast of the NFL’s “Monday Night Football.” ESPN cuts away from NHL games to pump-up the WNBA. ‘Nuff said.
While the WNBA’s mark on sports is a joke, especially when you look at their finances; there’s a hockey player that’s an even bigger joke than the sports-leader in losses – Vitali Kravtsov.
I’ll try to limit the “I-told-you-so” stuff in our next segment!
After all, I’ve said all of it, many times at that, during the past few months!
From the Department of “NO SHIT SHERLOCK”: Vitali Kravtsov, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks, nee the Rangers, is an NHLer no more.
Who could’ve predicted this?
On Monday, May 22nd, Canuck scribe, Rick Dhaliwal, reported that Kravtsov, and as we all expected, put on his diaper, got on a plane, and returned home to his mother’s bosom – and where he’ll now spend the next two-years of his life wasting away in the KHL:
This story says Vitaly Kravtsov has signed in the KHL.
A 2 year deal in Traktor Chelyabinsk.
Kravtsov played 16 games for the Canucks this season.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) May 23, 2023
Can all of you “KULT OF KRAVTSOV” types, people who argued with me during the past three-years, finally admit that I was right?
VITALI KRAVTSOV IS A BUST.
In fact, he may even be a bigger Rangers’ bust than Pavel Brendl himself!
And historically, and speaking as a Rangers’ historian (an honor bestowed upon me by the great, and one of my closest friends today, “The Maven” Stan Fischler) – that’s how Kravtsov will always be remembered – as a bust.
Unless you want to remain completely delusional, and blame everyone else in the world for Kravtsov’s faults (and like the “Kult of Kravtsov” always does); “Kravy’s” lack of dedication, heart and desire to work hard; following being a stereotypical entitled millennial malcontent in New York – he then bombed in Vancouver too.
Who could’ve predicted that?
Making matters even worse, was the fact that following the Canucks’ season, Vancouver head coach, Rick Tocchet, said that this off-season would be the biggest of Kravtsov’s career and how the Russian would have to work hard.
Kravtsov’s response: “HELL NYET!”
If you didn’t think it before, then now you know – Kravtsov has no desire to play in the NHL. He’s happy to “coast” and do whatever he does in Russia – where you know, once got him sent to Siberia in the KHL’s minor-league affiliate system, the VHL.
(And if he flames out in the KHL again, then who knows? “MAYBE” the front lines in the Ukraine will be in his future. And yes – I’m waiting for one of these social media posters to make a graphic depicting this!)
On Tuesday, May 22nd, Dhaliwal reported that one of the biggest first-round busts of Rangers’ history had signed a two-year deal, worth forty-million rubles, with his former KHL club, Traktor Chelyabinsk.
At twenty-million rubles a season, that converts into $500,000 in real money, American dollars.
That’s $375,000 less than what he was paid during the 2022-23 season – and where he was extremely overpaid too!
Kravtsov, now confirmed to be a failure at the NHL level, as the KHL is where NHL careers go to die; has proved everything that I’ve ever written on this site – including what I wrote during the 2018 NHL Entry Draft:
While my writing style, and grammar too, has improved during the past five-years (writing nearly ten books will do that – and we should all improve as the years pass); my thoughts and opinions from the time were both valid and on-point.
This all brings us to tonight’s main event – the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
After all, as I also said back on that fateful night in June of 2018 – you can’t judge an NHL Entry Draft until 3-5 years have gone by.
We’re now at the five-year max, as that 2018 NHL Entry Draft was five-years ago – and my, oh my, have we seen many twists-and-turns since that time – not only in hockey, but in the world too.
(A big middle finger to COVID-19!)
While admittedly, the genesis of this piece was rooted in the Kravtsov news from Tuesday; a look a back this 2018 NHL Entry Draft, and the ones that preceded it, is also a sum of the Rangers’ current parts.
To set the stage, here was the state of the franchise at the time:
— For the first time since 2010, and the second time since the start of the Henrik Lundqvist Era (2005-06 season), the Blueshirts had missed the playoffs. However, for the once perennial playoff contender, the miss was intentional.
— By now, and as you all know, in February of 2018, the brain-trust of the time, Team President Glen Sather and General Manager Jeff Gorton, had released “THE LETTER,” which outlined the franchise’s plans to rebuild.
— Between major injuries (Kevin Shattenkirk) and trading away big names for first-round picks (Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller, et al), the team had thrown in the towel on a 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff run.
— Once the season had reached its end, then head coach, Alain Vigneault, was fired.
— Due to the team’s previous runs during the playoffs in years past; the Rangers didn’t have much draft capital.
— In 2012, the Rangers selected Brady Skjei in the first-round (28th overall, due to the team’s Eastern Conference Final appearance). They didn’t have another first-round pick until 2017, when they drafted another big-time bust like Kravtsov himelf, Lias Andersson (7th overall), and the saving grace from that draft, Filip Chytil (21st overall).
— Prior to Andersson, the last time the Rangers had a first-round pick in the top-ten was in 2010, where much like 2003, the most star-studded draft of all-time, when the franchise erroneously drafted Hugh Jessiman (12th overall), they selected Dylan McIlrath (10th overall.)
— It’s also at this time where I need to remind you for the 897678678967896796th time on this site – that HANDS-DOWN – the worst Rangers’ draft of franchise history took place in 1977. The Rangers passed on Mike Bossy – twice – and you know how that played out. This is all covered in my books.
— As also noted in my four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade;” for all of the savvy that Sather had whenever exploiting salary cap loopholes – he was just as bad during draft time. (For those unaware, Sather had nothing to do with the seventh-round selection of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Henrik Lundqvist. That was Don Maloney’s doing.)
— From 2013-2016, the years where the Rangers didn’t have a first-round pick – they didn’t exactly knock it out of the park either. And heck, Skjei, their first-round pick from 2012, didn’t last too long in NYC either.
— The Rangers other picks from the 2012 draft also didn’t go anywhere, including Boo Nieves, Calle Andersson, Thomas Spelling and Adam Tambellini.
— The late-round picks from the 2013 Draft were actually good – if you can believe it. Both Pavel Buchnevich and Anthony Duclair are accomplished NHLers, but since it’s “THE RANGERS’ WAY” (trademark still pending) – the best seasons of their careers have taken place outside of New York – and where in the case of “The Duke,” and much like his current teammate Marc Staal – “The Fresh Prince of Duclair” is now five wins away from becoming a Stanley Cup champion.
— The needle-in-the-haystack from the 2014 NHL Draft was goaltender CZAR IGOR (fourth-round, 118th overall) – but he was never supposed to be the successor to his predecessor, KING HENRY. Instead, the man thought next to take over the throne in the Big Apple was Brandon Halverson (second round, 59th overall).
(This draft is also why I get a kick out of whenever Mollie “I Don’t Give a Shit” Walker, aka BIRDBRAIN, claims that the Rangers did their homework in this draft. CZAR IGOR was a happy accident – and never the intended guy. It was always supposed to be Halverson – even dating back to the days when both Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta had tremendous showings in net.)
— Aside from CZAR IGOR, everyone else drafted in 2014 (Halverson, Keegan Iverson, Ryan Mantha, Richard Nejezchleb, Daniel Walcott and Tyler Nanne) didn’t go anywhere.
— A year later, 2015, the Rangers bombed tremendously, where today, no one has an NHL career to speak of, including Ryan Gropp (41st overall), Robin Kovacs (62nd overall), Sergey Zborovskiy (79th overall), Aleksi Saarela (89th overall), Brad Morrison (113th overall), Daniel Bernhardt (119th overall) and Adam Huska (184th overall).
— 2016 was no better, as the Blueshirts selected Sean Day (81st overall), Tarmo Reunanen (98th overall), Tim Gettinger (141st overall), Gabriel Fontaine (171st overall), Tyler Wall (174th overall) and Ty Ronning (201st overall).
— And while no one knew it at the time, only Chytil, from the Rangers’ 2017 draft, went on to have a successful career.
Brandon Crawley (123rd overall), Calle Sjalin (145th overall), Dominik Lakatos (157th overall), Morgan Barron (174th overall) and Patrik Virta (208th overall) had as much success as Andersson did – although Barron has been the best of the lot, now in Winnipeg (and helped to bring Andrew Copp to NY for the 2022 Eastern Conference Final playoff run).
It took me a while to get here, but as you can see – the Rangers didn’t have much young talent in the pipeline when entering the 2018 NHL Entry Draft – especially when you consider that CZAR IGOR was an afterthought, and a big afterthought at that, at the time.
Furthermore, and before getting into what the Rangers did five-years ago; as you’re already probably aware of – due to the hard salary cap, where you can no longer “outspend your mistakes” (although the Arizona Coyotes are always happy to oblige – but it will cost you some draft capital) – having successful drafts has never been more important today when compared to previous eras of NHL history.
Prior to the salary cap, you could just buy the team you wanted. That strategy no longer exists.
And since the NHLPA is not only the weakest union in sports, but in America too; the greatest hockey teams in all of the world are forced to find diamonds-in-the-rough, via players making six-figures, in order to win a Stanley Cup.
In other words, to win a championship – not only do you need stellar performances from your top guns, “puck luck,” and some calls to go your way too; but you also need young and/or cheap players to flesh out your roster.
In June of 2018, in “The Big D,” it was Gorton’s plan to start piecing together a future Cup champion.
I know I’m bogging a lot of this down with history lessons, qualifying statements and disclaimers – but one more before finally proceeding – I am aware that what I’m about to say next, as in 99.9% of it – is largely coming from a realm of hindsight being 20/20.
That said, the Rangers, just like every other NHL team, spend a lot of money, time and miles traveled in scouting.
However, it feels like a lot of these efforts have been a waste – and the franchise – like most “self-appointed” experts on social media – are just better off at looking at the mock drafts written up by people like Bob McKenzie and Jeff Marek!
Simply stated: You couldn’t fare any worse!
In 2018, as a result of their trade deadline deals, the Rangers entered the draft with three first-round picks.
Outside of K’Andre Miller, the two other players that Gorton drafted in that first-round bombed – and where you can also argue that the Miller pick wasn’t the best selection either.
As you know, the Rangers took Kravtsov with their ninth overall pick and then made Miller the twenty-second overall selection. Gorton then closed the round by drafting Nils Lundkvist, with his twenty-eighth overall selection.
While this will be the biggest piece of “hindsight being 20/20” business; what if Gorton, rather than selecting three different players in the first-round – decided to package the trio of picks – and moved up for a top-five selection?
While I doubt that the Sabres (who took Rasmus Dahlin with their first-overall pick) and the Hurricanes (who took Andrei Svechnikov with their second-overall pick) would have budged; perhaps the Rangers could’ve done business with the Senators, who made Brady Tkachuk the fourth-overall pick of that draft.
Put it this way: Back then, and even today, who would you rather – Brady Tkachuk – or K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist and Vitali Kravtsov?
Heck, the Rangers could’ve included all ten of their picks from this draft for the fourth-overall selection!
After all, would you have missed the likes of Olof Lindbom (39th), Jacob Ragnarsson (70th), Joey Keane (88th), Nico Gross (101st), Lauri Pajuniemi (132nd), Simon Kjellberg (163rd) and Riley Hughes (216th)?
As previously mentioned, at the time,
Krapsoft Kravtsov was projected to go somewhere in the 20s. But since Senile Sather is always the smartest man in the room, the team president and his general manager went off the board.
They sure showed the league.
Many were predicting that the Rangers would select Oliver Wahlstrom, who was drafted two spots after Kravstov (11th), and of course, by the Islanders.
However, if it wasn’t going to be Wahlstrom, who was thought to be more “NHL ready” than Kravtsov at the time; then the Rangers could’ve had Evan Bouchard (10th, Edmonton), Noah Dobson (12th, Islanders), Joel Farabee (14th, Philadelphia) – and really – any of the other 216 players from this draft would’ve been better than Kravtsov.
Outside of Kravtsov and Dominik Bokk (25th, St. Louis – and who is playing in his home country of Germany), every other first-round selection from this draft is playing in North America today – where outside of a few that are in the AHL – the rest of these 31-players are skating with an NHL club today.
“THE RANGERS’ WAY!” (Trademark still pending!)
One more time – Kravtsov, and this pick, was a complete failure.
Nils Lundkvist, another crybaby (but nowhere at the levels of Andersson and Kravtsov), was sent to Dallas prior to the start of the 2022-23 season.
Today, and with the Stars now one game away from being swept out of the Western Conference Final – Lundkvist has been a healthy scratch during the playoffs – a status that he got accustomed to towards the end of the regular season.
While maybe he hangs around North America once the Knights are finished embarrassing the Stars; would it shock anyone if he runs home to Sweden following the playoffs, back to the SHL, and to never be seen from again?
K’Andre Miller, the best of the lot, looks like Bobby Orr when compared to these two goofs.
However, and similar to both Kravtsov and Lundkvist – better players could’ve been had.
Aside from the names previously listed, Mattias Samuelsson (32nd, Buffalo), Alexander Romanov (38th, Montreal), Jack Drury (42nd, Carolina), Kirill Marchenko (49th, Columbus) and others could’ve been had.
While anyone would’ve been better than Lundkvist; when it comes to Miller – if you weren’t going to package the lot for Tkachuk, then I would’ve preferred Noah Dobson.
So, and as you can already see – this draft was horrific.
However, I won’t throw another ton of salt in the wound – but I will sprinkle you with some “NaCl” – the last time I will do so!
On Tuesday, May 23rd, and following the news of Kravtsov’s future; it was also announced that Lauri Pajuniemi (fifth-round, 132nd overall), who played for the Wolfpack during the 2022-23 season, had signed with the Malmo Redhawks (SHL) for the 2023-24 campaign.
Why bring this up?
During that same fifth-round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the NJ Devils selected Akira Schmid (136th overall) and Yaron Sharangovich (141st overall).
The pain never ends.
Speaking of pain, let’s close with a clip that I found when doing research for “The Top 100 Most Hated Villains of Rangers’ History.”
While I had Geoffrion as one of my villains, or as I call them in the book, “RANGER KILLERS;” due to his status as one of the highest scoring opponents against the franchise, this video cemented his standing:
As you can see in the video, here’s BOOM BOOM using his stick, baseball bat style, and looking to knock off the head of former Ranger, Ron Murphy.
While I have the full story in the book; long story-short, this incident from December of 1953 wasn’t unearthed until 2011, when M$G was undergoing its most recent renovation.
As it was later revealed, this video was actually shot by the Rangers general manager of the time, the guy whose #7 belongs in the rafters of M$G, Frank Boucher.
In a world where there wasn’t a 24/7/365 news cycle, nor no such thing as the internet and/or social media either; at the time, fans believed that they had just witnessed the murder of Ron Murphy.
It wasn’t until the next day where fans found out that Murphy was alive, but who also had suffered season-ending injuries, including a major concussion and a broken jaw, among other things.
A story like this is why I love writing in an even longer format than these blogs, via my books; because if I wasn’t authoring these titles, then I would have never been aware of this story.
Perhaps you don’t share my thirst for history – but I can’t get enough of it.
As I was about to hit the publish button on tonight’s manifesto, it’s being reported that the Rangers and Islanders will play an outdoor game at Giants/Metlife/Whatever they are calling it these days stadium, next season. To help off-set costs, the Devils and Flyers will also play against each other at the football stadium.
While I’m sure it will be fun for all in-attendance; I doubt I will be attending.
From all of my experiences at the new eyesore in East Rutherford, NJ – it’s a shit-show.
It takes forever to get in-and-out of there, and the stadium has as much personality as ESPN.
Plus, as someone who has attended an outdoor game or two in my lifetime – it’s tough to get a real good sight-line at these games – and the experience is much more enjoyable on television.
Let’s just hope that TNT gets the rights to that game; because if it is ESPN who gets the rights – then maybe I’ll change my mind and go!
Back to the book for me.
I’ll return whenever the Rangers make their way back into the news; where at this rate – could be an hour from now!
PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)
My first plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”
As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:
For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.
My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.
To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/
To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”
The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!
“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.
All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.
To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com
To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
“The Hunt For The Rangers Head Coach of October!” Broadway’s Latest Play Based on The Real Life Story of The Blueshirts’ 2023 Search For a New Head Coach, Five New Actors to the Stage Featured, The 37th HC Revealed & More!
2023 Stanley Cup Playoff Thoughts; Blowouts and Upsets, Conference Finals Predictions, Desert Dogs Put to Sleep by Arizona Voters; Why New Orleans Would Make Sense for Relocation, Not Much Rangers News, But Plenty of Rumors & Speculation; Brooks’ Non-Stop Revolving Door of Coaches & More
Scorched Earth Continues: Why Mark Messier as Head Coach of the Rangers Wouldn’t Be The Worst Thing In The World (But We All Know It Won’t Happen); The Real Candidates & Thoughts, Knoblauch’s Emergence, Et Tu Drury: A Montreal Offer Sheet to Alexis Lafreniere is a Real Possibility, Gallant + JD = CBJ & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Don’t forget to order my recently released four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”
If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com
For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Thanks for reading.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine