The New York Rangers came into the 2005 Entry Draft with an eye towards the future. And after selecting nine young players in the seven-round affair, it appears the lights may very well shine on Broadway hockey once again in the not-too-distant future.
The Rangers started the day off with a bang, as the organization was able to trade up and land the 12th overall selection, which they used on Marc Staal
, a studly 18-year old defenseman who was ranked ninth overall in North America by Central Scouting coming into the Draft. In order to be in position to get Staal, New York sent their 16th and 41st selections to the Atlanta Thrashers, who used the Rangers picks to nab winger Alex Bourre and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
"Outside of winning the draft lottery, we could not have been happier with the way the 2005 draft went today," Rangers Vice President of Player Personnel Don Maloney said. "The opportunity to add a player like Marc Staal
, whom we had slotted as a lottery pick, was a very positive moment for our organization. Overall, we feel we addressed the needs of our hockey club and selected skaters with all the qualities of what a Ranger should be: competitive, proactive and gritty with skill and ability."
The 6-3, 196-pounder participated in the 2005 CHL Top Prospects game in Vancouver and also played in the 2005 OHL All-Star Game in Owen Sound. Staal is the younger brother of Eric, who was selected second overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2003. The selection marked the first time the Rangers have chosen a defenseman in the first round since picking Jeff Brown 22nd overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. New York used their first selection in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft (second round, 64th overall) to tab blueliner Filip Novak.
"We were surprised that he was still there," Rangers amateur scout Rich Brown said. "We made plans around him, thinking that he might not be there. But as the Draft unfolded I think Donnie saw an opportunity to get him and fortunately for us the organization did a good job at accumulating picks last year and we were able to give up a second round pick to move up five spots to get a guy we all believe as a group could be a New York Ranger in the future."
Another player who could be a fixture on the Rangers' blueline for years to come is Michael Sauer
, a player the team chose out of the Western Hockey League in the second round with the 40th overall selection. Like Staal, the Rangers had their sights set on Sauer heading into the Draft, but they weren't too sure he was gonna be there once they traded away some of their chips.
"If we couldn't do anything (to get Staal) and had stayed at 16, our thought was we would trade down because Michael Sauer
was our guy," Maloney said. "He was the guy we were going to be looking for. We were set to move down to get him, knowing that we would be able to get him sometime a little later. So for us to get him at 40 was a gift. It reminded all of us when we got Fedor Tyutin in the Draft in 2001 when he dropped down too and we were so ecstatic to get him. So getting Sauer and getting Staal to begin the day was a great way to start."
Michael's older brother Kurt was Colorado's fifth choice, 88th overall, in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and skated in 69 games for the Avalanche in 2003-04.
After trading the 45th pick to the Montreal Canadiens for the 56th and 66th selections, the Rangers nabbed right wing Marc-Andre Cliche from the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) at the 56th position and then center Brodie Dupont from the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League (WHL) at 66.
"Cliché is a guy we look at with good skating ability and high intelligence on the ice. He's another player we were really happy to get," Maloney said. "Dupont is a future leader. He could be the captain of the Calgary Hitmen. He's a strong player in every facet of his game and he works very hard."
The Rangers finished the third round by choosing defenseman Dalyn Flatt of the Saskatoon Blades (WHL) with the 77th selection. "Our goal there was who's the biggest, toughest, meanest, strongest player we could find that could get the job done and this kid was just a tough kid," Maloney explained.
New York selected Saginaw Spirit (OHL) center Tom Pyatt in the fourth round, 107th overall. "He's a very smart two-way player, who can contribute on both sides of the puck. He's good defensively and is strong penalty killer, but he also has good hands and offensive instincts," Brown said. "He doesn't give up one more one way or the other. He's good. He played on a poor team this year and put up excellent numbers and was selected to Canada's national under-18 team and played in the World Championships in April. We see him as a guy that has a lot of upside and potential."
In the fifth round, the Rangers used the 147th overall pick to select defenseman Trevor Koverko of the OHL. "He's a 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman who played for Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League this year. He's more of your prototypical defensive defenseman who brings size and toughness and good hockey sense to the game," Brown said. "So we liked the combination of his skills as well. He's one of those guys who's no fun to play against and it's nice to have those types of players in your organization."
Left Wing Greg Beller
of Lake of the Woods High School in Minnesota was selected 178th overall. "We consider him the dark horse of the Draft. He's very talented," Maloney said. "He has an interesting story in that he's from Canada, but plays in northern, northern Minnesota for a high school team. He was our long shot of the Draft. At that stage he was the guy we thought we could pull out and hit one over the fence."
With the club's final selection of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Rangers took Kootenay Ice (WHL) center Ryan Russell with the 211th pick. "He's a guy that's not very big, but he's quick. He's smart," Maloney said. "He's a teammate of Nigel Dawes and Dawes just loves this kid."
And the Rangers just love what they added to their organization this weekend.
"I think we all feel pretty good," Brown said. "We believe the ship is charted in the right direction and we're doing our very best to try to fill the barn with the right players. Hopefully we were able to do that, but only time will tell."
"Other than winning the lottery, we felt the way that this Draft went was as good as we could do," Maloney said. "The way things fell and our being able to get those first two kids at the top that we had so high on our list, we couldn't be happier."
~Robert PicarelloComplete 2005 Rangers Draft Coverage >>