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Everything You Need to Know About the Rangers' 7 Day 2 Draft Picks

New York selects 3 defensemen, 4 forwards in Rounds 2-7 of the 2019 NHL Draft

by Jess Isner

VANCOUVER -- With the second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Rangers knew they were assured of getting a great player. That much was a well-known commodity. 

On Friday night in Vancouver, they acquired that player in Kaapo Kakko, who is intended to be a franchise cornerstone for years to come. 

But on Day 2 of this year's draft, they made seven additional selections, most of them a bit more under-the-radar than Kakko but many of whom could still become marquee players down the line. 

"Unfortunately, with seven rounds, we can't get seven Kakkos, so we know that," said General Manager Jeff Gorton with a smile. "But listen, each time, we were dialed in on a player and felt good about where we took him. Our table's excited. Maybe the buzz isn't there like it is in the first round with the stage and all that, but we really feel like we got some skill, some size, some skating - all of that - and look forward to the development camp to see some of these guys on the ice."

In Rounds 2-7, the Rangers selected three defensemen and four forwards, all of whom have the potential to provide significant depth far into the future. 

"I think you build through defense and down the middle, and we recognize that - up the middle and on the back end and obviously in goal - so we're trying to take as many shots at that as possible," Gorton said. "At the end of the day, if they all turn out and are good players, we'll have some value to trade around the league. You always take the best player. We don't have 30 positions to fill. We have just a few. So we're trying to just get as much as we can depth-wise, and we'll see how it turns out."

Here's what you need to know about the seven players acquired by New York on Day 2 of this year's draft. 


MATTHEW ROBERTSON 



Draft Position: Second round, 49th overall 

Height & Weight: 6-foot-3, 200 

Position: D

Current Team: Edmonton Oil Kings/WHL 

His Own NHL Comparison: Cam Fowler or Victor Hedman

The Rangers' first of three second-round selections was a defenseman they had valued much higher than the No. 49 slot in which they ultimately acquired him. A shutdown defensive defenseman, Robertson loves to chip in offensively where he can, but - in his own words - his bread and butter is playing against and stifling opponents' top players. 

"I think we had him really high," Gorton said, "and so when he was still there [at No. 49], I think we were excited by that. 

"His size, his skating, hockey sense - he's got a little bit of everything. He's had a real good career in junior, and he's just kind of hitting his peak there, so I think there's a lot more room to grow and there's some real upside. So that's exciting."

In parts of three seasons with the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings, Robertson tallied 58 points in 126 games. He said he knows the Rangers are developing considerable depth on the back end, but over the course of the next few years, as he looks to improve upon his aggressiveness and his physicality, he looks forward to some healthy competition and proving he belongs in a Blueshirt. 

"I think there's lots of work to be done in order for me to play there," Robertson said, "but Iots of time to work on that in the future."

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KARL HENRIKSSON 

Draft Position: Second round, 58th overall 

Height & Weight: 5-foot-9, 176 

Position: C

Current Team: Frolunda HC/SHL 

Henriksson - who plays for Former Ranger and current Frolunda HC General Manager Fredrik Sjostrom in Sweden's SuperElit - is a player who brings three key intangibles to the table: skill, speed and skating. 

"He's a player we hold very high in our organization," Sjostrom said. "He's a really driven young man. He doesn't take a practice off or anything like that - he's super motivated and driven, and that, along with his hockey sense and playmaking ability - those are two really good assets to have, I think. I think he knows what it takes to get there, and he's willing to do that. He trains really hard, on and off the ice, and that goes along with this smartness on the ice. I think he can be a really good player."

An offensive-minded center, he tallied 49 points in 46 total games this season for Frolunda's J-20 team. His 36 assists and plus-35 rating both led SuperElit. This upcoming season, he will begin training with Frolunda's men's team, a necessary step to gauge his readiness to advance to the next level. 

"It'll be an interesting, fun year for him, this upcoming season," Sjostrom said. "Obviously he's still young and he's going to need some time to mature, especially being a centerman. I think offensively, there's a ton of upside; what he's got to learn now is being good defensively as a center, battling bigger guys. Obviously it takes some time to adjust, there." 

Henriksson's drive, though, seems to be one of his biggest, if not his biggest, assets. He's the kind of player who can will himself toward success and won't stop till he gets there.

"He's been doing something right to get to where he's at, and you've just got to keep doing that - keep working hard - and you've got to have patience, because there's going to be some ups and downs," Sjostrom said. "But this young man - he's really driven, and if you have that and have a little patience, good things will happen to you. Personality-wise, he's got what it takes to go all the way. I think that's really important to have that drive." 

Sjostrom said he chatted briefly with Henriksson after his name was called by the Rangers on Saturday, and neither of them could have been happier with where the young Swede ended up. 

"I was happy for him," Sjostrom said. "New York's a super classy organization and one of the best. He's going to be in a good spot there, that's for sure." 

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ZAC JONES 



Draft Position: Second round, 68th overall 

Height & Weight: 5-foot-10, 175

Position: D

Current Team: Tri-City Storm/USHL  

His Own NHL Comparison: Torey Krug 

If there is one thing that Zac Jones certainly does not lack, it is personality. 

Before the 18-year-old left the media room on Saturday to meet with the Rangers brass, he made sure to stop by the scrum of former Tri-City teammate-turned-Flyers-prospect Ronnie Attard to ask a couple of burning questions - but mostly to simply congratulate his buddy and former D partner on being drafted shortly after he himself was taken by the Rangers. 

"I'm so proud of him," Jones said. "We bonded from Day 1. Day 1, we came in, we were like, 'We're going to be the best D-pair in the league,' and that's what we said, and we tried to go out and do it, and it worked out pretty well for us, I'd say."

That's the other thing about Jones: He seems to be the quintessential team player. 

The puck-moving defenseman, whose lineage extends to Binghamton, N.Y., said his family back home was thrilled to see him selected by the Blueshirts. 

"All my family back home is pretty pumped about this right now," he said. "I can't wait to be a Ranger. I'm excited for it."

As for his own reaction to hearing his name called?

"I just blacked out for as second there," he said. "No emotions there. No words to describe how incredible this feeling is right now."

A self-described offensive threat, Jones loves running point on the power play, feeding pucks, skating and, as he said, "I love getting to the blue line and making moves." Though he wouldn't describe himself as exceptionally physical, he believes there's time for him to get bigger and stronger as he embarks on his NCAA career at UMass-Amherst. In the meantime, he'll keep working on being a solid two-way defenseman with a scoring touch. 

For now, he's in no rush.

"My whole life, I've been a marathon, not a sprint type of player," Jones said. "So whatever happens, happens."

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HUNTER SKINNER 



Draft Position: Fourth round, 112th overall

Height & Weight: 6-foot-2, 176

Position: D

Current Team: Lincoln Stars/USHL

His Own NHL Comparison: John Klingberg  

Skinner, the third and final blueliner selected by the Rangers at this year's draft, is another solid defensive defenseman whose biggest attribute is his intensity and hockey sense. 

"But I like to put the puck in the back of the net," he added. "So I'll bring my offensive game. I love to skate the puck up the ice and just create plays overall." 

Coming off a USHL season in which he established career highs in games played (52), goals (5), assists (19) and points (24), he will spend next season either in the OHL or back with the Stars. 

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LEEVI AALTONEN 



Draft Position: Fifth round, 130th overall 

Height & Weight: 5-foot-9, 177

Position: LW 

Current Team: KalPa/Liiga 

Aaltonen was the second Finnish winger selected by the Rangers at this year's draft. The other, incidentally, is someone he played with on multiple Finnish national teams. 

"I know Kakko," Aaltonen said of his countryman and fellow Ranger. "We're friends." 

Aaltonen's friendship with Kakko is certainly not why the Rangers selected him in the fifth round of this year's draft. But it does present some upside. 

"I think that's a little something to do with it," Gorton said. "But at the same time, you're trying to draft and you're trying to get the best players. When you like a player and then you jump up and you draft him, I don't think it's a tiebreaker to say, 'This will make Kakko happy.' But you know that it's always nice to have some people that speak your language and make you feel comfortable. They know each other, so that doesn't hurt."

The other thing that doesn't hurt is Aaltonen's skating ability: He's been described as one of the strongest pure skaters in his draft class. This season, in 29 games with Liiga's KalPa, he registered 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points. In 2018, he suited up alongside Kakko at World Juniors. 

Now, once again, he's proud to be wearing the same sweater as his Finnish friend. 

"Unbelievable feeing - maybe best day of my life," he said. "Very excited to be a Ranger.  

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ADAM EDSTROM 

Draft Position: Sixth round, 161st overall 

Height & Weight: 6-foot-6, 209

Position: C/W

Current Team: Mora IK/SHL 

At 6-foot-6, Edstrom figures to be a force to be reckoned with up front, and he proved it this year with Sweden's Mora. With a winning combination of physicality and skill, Edstrom totaled 17 points in 35 total games split between the SHL club and the J-20 club in SuperElit. 

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ERIC CICCOLINI



Draft Position: Seventh round, 205th overall

Height & Weight: 5-foot-11, 170

Position: RW

Current Team: Toronto Junior Canadiens/OJHL

It's almost as though Ciccolini was fated to be a Ranger. 

After a long day of waiting for his name to be called, he finally heard it during Saturday's seventh round - and by the team that once employed his grandfather, Sam Ciccolini, as a scout, no less. 

"it's a coincidence I was able to get drafted to the Rangers," Ciccolini said. "It's a pretty big honor, and I'm sure he is really happy about that, too." 

A winger with high-end skill who loves to watch current Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Ciccolini notched 62 points (27 goals, 35 assists) this season. That was enough to get him the B.J. Monro Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the OHA's top prospect. 

Ciccolini knows he has to get bigger and stronger before he's ready to make the jump to the next level, and he's hoping to do some of that at the University of Michigan, where he has committed to playing next season. In the meantime, he'll keep using his speed at both ends of the ice to establish himself as an impact player. 

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