Redrafting the New York Rangers First Picks From 2000-2012
Credit: Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

This article will start with the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” because the New York Rangers thought everyone of their draft picks would have been great players that would contribute for years but for one reason or another they did not pan out. Some of these drafts in the 15 years since 2000 have been very deep drafts i.e. 2003 and some have been very weak drafts i.e. 2000. This article will consist of the Rangers original pick, their new pick and a little bit about why the Rangers should’ve picked that new player instead of the real pick. If possible this writer will also include why the Rangers were inclined to pick the player they went with in these drafts and what was wrong with that pick. Some players will remain the same for reasons including the Rangers got a better player using the draft pick as trade bait, or the player has played pretty well on Broadway. As well these picks will be players that were remaining on the board when the Rangers selected, the Blueshirts don’t automatically get the first overall pick and free pick at the litter. If drafted by the Blueshirts these players might not be as talented as they currently are and might not have won as many team or personal awards as they have but for the purposes of this article, these players would have been pretty good and at the end there will be a breakdown of the Rangers today with these players in the form of this would’ve happened if the Rangers drafted these players instead of their original picks.

2000 #64 pick:

Original Pick: Fllip Novak

New Pick:  Lubomir Visnovsky

This one is hard, the obvious pick would be Henrik Lundqvist, but the problems with that are a few things. Maybe the Rangers can get a few players before Lundqvist and have Hank as he is known still sitting there for the pickings a few rounds later when the Rangers really picked him. As well maybe Lundqvist constantly getting skipped over until the seventh round lit a fire in his belly to prove himself and that is part of the reason he is so good today, so if the Rangers take him in the second round that anger is not there and he is not the king.

The Rangers would leave Henrik Lundqvist on the board for them to pick in the 7th round in this redrafting and pick defensemen from Slovakia Lubomir Visnovsky. Visnovsky has been a serviceable defensemen since getting drafted by the Los Angeles Kings. Visnovsky currently plays for in Slovakia for HC Slovan Bratislava and in his NHL career has 128 goals, 367 assists and 373 penalty minutes. Last season Visnovsky had five goals, fifteen assists and eight penalty minutes in 53 games. Visnovsky was a very serviceable defensemen over his 14 year NHL career and would’ve been a great pick for the Rangers with their second round pick in the 2000 National Hockey League Draft.

2001 #10 pick:

Original Pick: Dan Blackburn

New Pick: Patrick Sharp

The Rangers took goalie Dan Blackburn with the 10th overall pick and wanted him to be their starting goalie after playing for the Kootenay Ice. With the Ice Blackburn had a 2.77 goals against average and a record of 33-14-2. Granted the Rangers in the early 2000s were not very good teams, so Blackburn didn’t have much help, he still didn’t play well in his first season on Broadway he had a 12-16-0 record with a 3.28 goals against average. He was a backup behind Rangers legend and one of the most beloved players in Rangers history Mike Richter and had a shutout in his first game after Richter got a concussion from heading the puck. Blackburn could’ve improved but it is unlikely to been with the Rangers especially with Lundqvist sitting in the wings. Blackburn did suffer a nerve injury in 2003-04 and fell all the way to the ECHL with injury problems and retired in 2005 after suffering a strained MCL.  

The New York Rangers would instead pick left winger Patrick Sharp with the 10th overall pick. In real life Sharp dropped to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 4th round but has spent most of his career with the Chicago Blackhawks before being a salary cap casualty for the defending champions and being shipped to the Dallas Stars. Sharp played two years at the University of Vermont before joining the Flyers. He played 10 years for the Blackhawks winning three Stanley Cups and would’ve been a great Ranger and fan favorite for his time with the Blueshirts. Over the course of his career he has 260 goals, 291 assists, a +81 in 739 total games. In the playoffs 43 goals, 38 assists and a +7 in 129 games, in 68 Stanley Cup games. The Rangers would not automatically be a Stanley Cup winning team like the Blackhawks have been with this pick, one player doesn’t win a Stanley Cup, however Sharp would be  a key player and maybe help them win a Stanley Cup in the last few season where the Rangers have had great teams, that have fallen just short.

2002 #33 pick:

Original Pick: Lee Falardeau

New Pick: Duncan Keith

The New York Rangers didn’t have a first round pick in the 2002 NHL draft and took forward out of Michigan State Lee Falardeau with their second round pick. Falardeau played three years in East Lansing and never played in the NHL in his career. He played the last three seasons of his career in the ECHL for the Charlotte Checkers. In his career Falardeau had 56 goals and 78 assists in five year career. His worst season came in 2005-06 with the Wolfpack when he played 64 games but only had 5 goals and 17 assists.

Safe to say most picks would be better than the Faldreau pick, and in this scenario the Rangers would take another player from the Blackhawks and take fellow Spartan Duncan Keith with the 10th overall pick. Keith has played for the Blackhawks since getting drafted by them in 2002. Keith has won three Stanley Cups in Chicago and has 80 goals, 353 assists and a +141 rating in the regular season. In the playoffs he has 15 goals, 60 assists, and a +34 rating. Keith has also been a two time Norris trophy winner for best defensemen in the NHL and last season he won the Conn Smythe trophy this past postseason after the Hawks won the Cup for the most valuable player in the playoffs. Keith like Sharp probably wouldn’t be a Stanley Cup champion as many times as he is in reality but he might have helped the Rangers on the way to a Stanley Cup in the last few seasons.

2003 #12 pick:

Original Pick: Hugh Jessiman

New Pick: Shea Weber

In some senses this is the hardest pick to redraft and in some senses it is the easiest, there is a large amount of depth in this draft, as it is one of the greatest drafts in NHL history, so deciding between the talent remaining on the board when the Rangers picked at number 12 is quite hard, however as you can see this writer narrowed down the choices and went with Shea Weber. Overall the Rangers could’ve done so much better with this pick than they did getting Dartmouth product Hugh Jessiman in an absolutely stacked draft. Right winger Jessiman played well for the Dartmouth Big Green in his freshman year but that was the high moment of his career as he didn’t play very well his sophomore year and then got hurt his junior year before declaring pro. Jessiman was projected to be a good player and use his big body as he was 6’5 and 280 pounds, and play in the NHL for many years but obviously he didn’t pan out for the Blueshirts.

The Rangers would go with defensemen Shea Weber in this scenario at the number 12 slot. This writer flip flopped between Dustin Brown and Weber but decided to have a unbeatable Rangers defensemen present day if Weber stayed with the Blueshirts this long. The Nashville Predators picked up Shea Weber with the 49th pick in this stacked draft and he has been one of the best defensemen for them ever since. In his career Weber has played in 719 games with 156 goals, 261 assists, a +51 and 551 penalty minutes in the regular season. In the postseason Weber has played in 45 games with 10 goals, 11 assists and a -2 rating. The Rangers defense present day with Shea Weber would be absolutely ridiculous in front of Henrik Lundqvist.  For those reasons the Rangers would take Shea Weber in this draft.

2004 #6 pick:

Original Pick: Al Montoya

New Pick: Travis Zajac

The New York Rangers spent their 6th overall pick on career backup goalie Al Montoya in this draft. The Michigan Wolverines goalie played in the minors for years after getting drafted by the Rangers before the Phoenix Coyotes finally gave him a chance in 2008-09. Montoya burst onto the scene when won the first ever championship for the USA in the 2004 World Juniors in Helsinki, Finland as the starting goalie. As a result Montoya never played a game for the Rangers, he only played for their minor league team the Hartford Wolfpack. Montoya currently plays for the Florida Panthers and has played in 8 games thus far this season, with a 5-1-1 record, a 1.79 goals against average, a .930 save percentage. In his career playing for the Panthers, Islanders, Jets and Coyotes he has 119 NHL games with a record of 48-36-8, a 2.63 goals against average, and a .908 save percentage.

This one is hard because this was not a very good draft compared to some other drafts, but this writer has decided to go with center Travis Zajac. The New Jersey Devils drafted Zajac with the 20th overall pick and the 30 year old has played for them for his entire career. Zajac in his career has played in 652 games with 133 goals, 230 assists, and a +36 rating. This season for the Devils he has 6 goals and 9 assists. In the playoffs Zajac has played 52 games with 10 goals, 16 assists and a -1 rating, including a -6 rating in 2011-12, when the Devils lost to the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. Zajac would be a very good third line center for the Rangers in the years following this draft and that’s why the Rangers would pick Zajac instead of Montoya.

2005 #12 pick:

Original Pick: Marc Staal

New Pick:Marc Staal

In the description this writer said that not all the picks would be changed and this is one of them as Marc Staal has been a very good defensemen for the Rangers over the years. Staal is the Rangers longest tenured defensemen and has played well at points for the Rangers, so he remains a Ranger in this redrafting. Staal has been at certain points the only good Rangers defensemen especially before current captain Ryan McDonagh arrived. In his career the 28 year old Staal has played in 576 games with 33 goals, 109 assists, and a +29 rating. He is currently an assistant captain for the Blueshirts and in the playoffs he has been part of some great Rangers teams that have fallen just short. Staal in his postseason career has played in 87 games, with 6 goals and 11 assists and a -11 in terms of plus/minus. His career almost ended a few seasons ago when he took a puck off his eye and missed a considerable amount of time.

2006 #21 pick:

Original Pick: Bobby Sanguinetti

New Pick: Claude Giroux

The New York Rangers drafted Bobby Sanguinetti a defensemen out of the Owen Sound Attack with the 21st overall pick in the 2006 draft and the very next pick by the rival Philadelphia Flyers was Claude Giroux. The New Jersey native Sanguinetti played three seasons in the NHL for the Rangers, and Hurricanes. Sanguinetti has been named to a few AHL all star teams but has not played well in the NHL. In his NHL career tot his point, Sanguinetti has 2 goals and 4 assists in 45 games and a -6 rating. Currently Sanguinetti plays for Rochester Americans in the AHL, who are a minor league team for the Buffalo Sabres and last season playing for the Utica Comets and had 16 goals and 24 assists in 61 games.

Needless to say Giroux would’ve been a much better pick for the Ranges as Giroux is the captain for the Flyers right now and has played very well for them over the course of his career. The 27 year old center and right winger Giroux has played in 530 games for the Flyers with 155 goals and 323 assists and a +16. This season Giroux has 11 goals, 17 assists and a -6 rating on a very poor Flyers team. In the postseason Giroux has played in 57 games with 23 goals, 38 assists and a +15 rating. He would be a very good top two line center/right winger for the Rangers over the course of his career and might have helped them win the Stanley Cup over the last few seasons.

2007 #17 pick:

Original Pick: Alexi Cherepanov

New Pick: PK Subban

This pick is far and away the most tragic and interesting pick in this article. The Rangers drafted Alexi Cherepanov with the 17th overall pick and on October 13th, 2008 while playing in the KHL Cherepanov collapsed on the bench and died due to a heart condition at only 19 years old. As a result we will never know if this was a good pick or a bad pick, and that is very tragic. In his career in Russia Cherepanov played in 107 games with 41 goals and 29 assists.

In the second round the Canadiens selected defensemen Pernell Karl Subban with the 43rd overall pick and he has been one of the best defensemen in the NHL to this point. The Rangers defensemen would be insane with Weber and Subban and a few of the current Rangers defensemen. Subban played in the juniors for the Bellville Bulls and in his NHL career has played in 403 games with 58 goals, 193 assists, and a +39 plus/minus rating. This season Subban has 1 goal and 23 assists in 36 games. In the playoffs Subban has played 55 games with 11 goals and 27 assists with a +1. This would be a great pick for the Rangers in this draft instead of the late Cherepanov.

2008 #20 pick:

Original Pick: Michael Del Zotto

New Pick: Jordan Eberle

The Rangers drafted Michael Del Zotto with the 20th overall pick and he played pretty well for a few seasons for the Blueshirts but was really bad at other points and fell out of favor with former head coach John Tortorella and the fans before being shipped to Nashville. Fans even called Del Zotto, “Michael Del Zero” as a nickname in his last few seasons on Broadway. In his five years on Broadway he played in 292 games with 26 goals and 95 assists. In his career he has  played 415 games with 38 goals and 128 assists with a -21 plus/minus rating.

Right winger Jordan Eberle was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers and this is one pick that might have been a better player had he been drafted by the Rangers compared to the Oilers unlike Sharp who would be  very good player but maybe not a Stanley Cup Champion had he been drafted by the Rangers compared to the Blackhawks. In his career the 25 year old Eberle has played in 378 games with 128 goals, 153 assists and a horrible -53 rating but that could be attributed to the lack of quality of the Oilers during his tenure in Edmonton. He has never played in the postseason again attributed to the lack of quality Oilers teams. He definitely would have played in the playoffs for the Rangers. This would have been a much better pick for the Rangers than MDZ was.  

2009 #19 pick:

Original Pick: Chris Kreider

New Pick: Chris Kreider

This is the second pick to stay the same for the Rangers as Kreider has played well for the Rangers after bursting onto the scene in the 2012 playoffs only a few months after winning the NCAA Championship for the Boston College Eagles. Kreider has played well for the Blueshirts since he was drafted and has played in 205 games with 46 goals and 56 assists and a plus 40 rating. In the playoffs he has played 60 games with 18 goals and 13 assists with a -7 rating.

2010 #10 pick:

Original Pick: Dylan Mcilrath

New Pick: Vladimir Tarasenko

The Rangers picked defensemen Dylan Mcilrath with the 10th overall pick and he has played well this season but is nothing compared to Tarasenko. The 6’5 defensemen is a decent defensemen and fighter, compiling a career one goal and one assist, both coming this year with 50 penalty minutes in 20 career games. He is also a +1 on plus/minus. Prior to this season he played in three games for the Rangers over the last two seasons getting a -1 plus/minus and 16 penalty minutes, including 9 in one game last season.

The better pick would have been Vladimir Tarasenko who has been a beast at right winger since being drafted by the St. Louis Blues 16th overall. In his career he has 88 goals and 85 assists in 214 career games with a  +50 rating. In the playoffs he has played 13 games for the Blues who have choked in the postseason in recent years. Tarasenko has 10 goals, 1 assist and a -3 plus/minus rating in the playoffs. He would be a great first line right winger for the Rangers and maybe give them the push they have needed to win the Stanley Cup.

2011 #15 pick:

Original Pick: JT Miller

New Pick: JT Miller

This is the third pick that remains the same for the Rangers as JT Miller has played pretty well for the Rangers in his career. He has played with the Rangers since 2012-13 and has played in 150 career games with 22 goals and 28 assists and a -4 plus/minus rating. He has 5 game winning goals in his career. In his postseason career Colon has played 23 games with one goal and 9 assists, and a +6 rating.

2012 #28 pick:

Original Pick:  Brady Skjei

New Pick: Brady Skjei

This is too early to judge really but Brady Skjei did play well in his two career games earlier this season. The Rangers picked Skjei out of the USDNTP but the past few seasons he played for the University of Minnesota. The defensemen Skjei did as previously stated play well in his two career games this season. At Minnesota he was one of the better defensemen in the country and had 8 goals and 19 assists over the course of his college career. This season in Hartford he has played well getting two goals and 11 assists in 28 games.

What would the current Rangers look like with these picks?

The Rangers would have probably won one Stanley Cup and the defense with Ryan McDonagh, Visnovsky, Weber, Subban and Staal would be easily the best in the NHL.  The Rangers would be a really good team with the current roster changed with these new picks, and Tarasenko would be a star for the Rangers on Broadway. The Rangers could probably beat the Kings a few seasons ago with this roster and win the Stanley Cup. They could beat the Lightning and go back to back against the Blackhawks last season.