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Rangers use draft to bulk up

Monday, 06.23.2008 / 9:00 AM / 2008 NHL Entry Draft

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor


OTTAWA -- The seven selections the New York Rangers made at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft have one thing in common – size.
 
All of the picks were at least 6-feet tall, and four were over 200 pounds.
 
The club opted for three defensemen, including top choice Michael Del Zotto, and four forwards.
 
Here’s a look at the New York Rangers’ 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:
 
No. 20, Michael Del Zotto, D, Oshawa (OHL) – The Rangers delighted in the fact that the 6-foot, 211-pound blueliner fell to their draft slot.
 
"We were really excited," Rangers Head Amateur Scout Jim Hammett told the club’s Web site of the chance to draft Del Zotto. "We had held this guy in really high regard as far as how high he could go. We think that he belonged in that upper echelon with some of the other defensemen that went higher, so overall we were absolutely thrilled that he was still there."
 
Del Zotto was nearly a point-per-game player in the Ontario Hockey League, finishing with 63 points in 64 games.
 
The Rangers now have taken three defensemen with their first pick in the last four drafts, following Marc Staal (2005) and Bobby Sanguinetti (2006).
 
No. 51, Derek Stepan, C, Shattuck-St. Mary’s (USHS) – The gifted offensive player joins his father, Brad, as Rangers draft picks. Brad Stepan was selected No. 91 overall by the Rangers in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, but never made it to the NHL.
 
Derek, ranked No. 58 by NHL Central Scouting, had 36 goals and 91 points in 54 games this past season.
 
The 6-foot, 168-pound native of Hastings, Minn., will play at the University of Wisconsin in the fall.
 
No. 75, Evgeny Grachev, C, Yaroslval (Russia) – A true power forward, Grachev packs a lot of ability into his 6-3, 202-pound frame.
 
"Evgeny is a power forward with a good physical presence and ability to come up with the puck in traffic areas,” said NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb. “He displays strong puck skills and the ability to make plays all over the ice, but needs to improve his acceleration and overall speed."
 
Grachev had 13 points in 28 games for Yaroslavl’s junior team, and played one game for the Russian Super League team. He also had five points in six games to help Russia win the silver medal at the Under-18 World Championships in April.
 
No. 90, Tomas Kundratek, D, Trinec (Czech Republic) –  The No. 12-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting, Kundratek had one assist and 10 penalty minutes in 14 games for Trinec in the top Czech league. He also had a goal in six games for the Czech entry at the 2008 World Junior Championships.
 
No. 111, Dale Weise, RW, Swift Current (WHL) – A 6-2, 206-pound forward, Weise led the Broncos with 29 goals in 53 games, and his 50 points was fifth on the squad.
 
No. 141, Chris Doyle, C, PEI (QMJHL) – The 6-foot, 193-pound center made a huge jump from his rookie campaign, going from 18 goals and 36 points last season to 27 goals and 63 points in 63 games in 2007-08. Both numbers were second on the club.
 
No. 171, Mitch Gaulton, D, Erie (OHL) – A dislocated left elbow suffered in October limited the 6-foot, 210-pound blueliner to just 20 games. A physical player, he had seven points and 19 penalty minutes in his limited time.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.


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