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31 in 31

Top prospects for New York Rangers

Andersson could be third-line center this season, DeAngelo aims to crack top six on defense

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers went four years without a first-round draft pick before making two of the first 21 selections in the 2017 NHL Draft on June 23.

They selected Sweden-born center Lias Andersson with the No. 7 pick, which they acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes, and center Filip Chytil from the Czech Republic at No. 21.

 

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The Rangers, though, had been finding ways keep their prospect pool fresh despite the lack of high picks.

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Forward Kevin Hayes, who was a first-round pick (No. 24) by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, and forwardJimmy Vesey, a third-round selection (No. 66) by the Nashville Predators in 2012, each signed with the Rangers as an unrestricted free agent out of college. They're part of the young core group of forwards.

Here are the Rangers' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Lias Andersson, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 7 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: HV 71 (SHL): 42 GP, 9-10-19

Andersson, 18, scored four goals in 16 playoff games to help HV 71 win the Swedish Hockey League championship last season. He projects as a No. 2 center but could start this season with the Rangers as their third-line or fourth-line center.

"I saw him at our development camp," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I liked what I saw."

Rangers director of player personnel Gordie Clark said Andersson (5-foot-11, 198 pounds) is a dynamic playmaker.

"Driving the net, forechecking, finishing checks, and then he can make a pass, make a play," Clark said. "He plays more of a North American style and that's what we like about him."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

2. Anthony DeAngelo, D

How acquired: Trade with Arizona Coyotes on June 23

Last season: Arizona: 39 GP, 5-9-14; Tucson (AHL): 25 GP, 3-13-16

DeAngelo, 21, makes the cut to be on this list by one game (requirements were 25 or younger and 40 or fewer NHL games played). The Rangers are his third organization since the Tampa Bay Lightning selected him with the No. 19 pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, but he has a good chance to be a full-time NHL defenseman this season.

"Everybody seems to think this guy is legit and he's ready to take the next step," Vigneault said. "I have not talked to anyone who has told me differently."

DeAngelo (5-11, 183) showed his potential as a strong skating, puck-moving right-handed defenseman who could play on the power play last season. Two of his five goals and eight of his 14 points with the Coyotes came on the power play.

The Rangers have six defensemen ahead of him on the depth chart -- Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei, Brendan Smith, Marc Staal and Nick Holden -- but if DeAngelo impresses in training camp he could force his way into the top six.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

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3. Alexei Bereglazov, D

How acquired: Signed as unrestricted free agent April 21

Last season: Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL): 60 GP, 1-18-19

Bereglazov, 23, went undrafted because, at least in the opinion of Rangers scouts, he wasn't fast enough to keep up with the NHL pace. That isn't an issue now, so they signed him to a reported two-year, entry-level contract.

Bereglazov (6-4, 202) has a chance to crack the opening-night roster, especially if DeAngelo makes it and Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton decides to trade or waive a veteran defenseman for help at forward.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Neal Pionk, D

How acquired: Signed as unrestricted free agent May 1

Last season: University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA): 42 GP, 7-27-34

Pionk, 22, played two college seasons before signing with the Rangers. Clark said Pionk went undrafted because he was too slender (5-11, 175), but his skill is what made him one of the most-sought college free agents last season.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

5. Sean Day, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 81 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Windsor (OHL): 58 GP, 12-20-32; Mississauga (OHL): 5 GP, 3-2-5

Day, 19, helped Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League win the Memorial Cup after being acquired in a trade with Mississauga on Oct. 19. He will be attending his second training camp with the Rangers and likely will start this season with Hartford of the American Hockey League.

Conditioning has been one of the main concerns with Day (6-2, 231). He said he's added 10 pounds of muscle since getting drafted but has maintained the same 13-14 percent body fat.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

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