The Rangers left Florida and the 2015 NHL Entry Draft with seven selections following three separate trades on the draft floor that saw the team move up in the second-round and add two additional draft picks.
The Rangers acquired pick No. 41 and Emerson Etem from the Anaheim Duck for forward Carl Hagelin and two picks. With that pick, the Blueshirts selected forward Ryan Gropp. The 18-year-old left winger spent last season with Seattle of the Western Hockey League where he posted 30 goals and 28 assists for 58 points in 67 games. The 6-foot-2, 187-pounder hails from Kamloops, British Columbia.
With the first pick of the third-round (62nd overall), New York grabbed Swedish forward Robin Kovacs (pictured). The 6-foot, 159-pound winger spent the majority of last season with Aik in Sweden's second division, where he led the team with 17 goals and 28 points, both of which were more than any other junior-aged player in the second division. In four games with Sweden at the Under-20 Five Nations Tournament, he scored four goals and six assists.
Kovacs lists Steve Stamkos as his favorite player and says his game is similar to that of Marian Hossa.
"I'm a big offensive player," Kovacs told BlueshirtsUnited.com. "I love scoring, and I try to make my teammates better, too."
Added Gordie Clark, the Rangers Director of Player Personnel, "He's one of the fastest skaters over in Sweden and he's very, very skilled. He can score goals. We'll give him the time to mature. We'll wait for him."
The Rangers took their first defenseman, Sergey Zborovskiy, at No. 79 — which was acquired when the Rangers traded goaltender Cam Talbot to Edmonton. Zborovskiy, who stands 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, spent last season with Regina of the WHL, where he posted three goals and 19 points, along with 70 penalty minutes. The Moscow, Russia-native lists current Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh as his favorite NHL player.
Clark said that Zborovskiy had a very strong season playing in North America a year ago, and that the Rangers liked the fact that he had come over from his native Russia to learn the style of play he'd be a part of when he eventually turns pro.
Next up was Aleksi Saarela, from Helsinki, Finland, at No. 89. The center spent last year with Assat of the Finnish league, where he registered six goals and 12 points in 51 games. Saarela stands 5'10" and is 198 points.
The first of two fourth-round picks was skilled center Brad Morrison at No. 113 overall. The Prince George, B.C.-native spent last year with his hometown team in the WHL, racking up 23 goals and 27 assists in 67 games. The 6-foot, 154-pound Morrison is the son of former NHLer Doug, while his uncle Mark Morrison, was taken by the Rangers in the 1981 draft. His brother-in-law is current NHLer Josh Gorges, and his uncle is former long-time NHL defenseman Garth Butcher.
"Those bloodlines are important, you can't discount them," noted Clark.
The second fourth-round pick was Swedish winger Daniel Bernhardt, whom the Rangers took with the 119th overall pick. The 6-foot-3, 191-pound Bernhardt posted 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 44 games with Djurgarden in Sweden's junior league. The 19-year-old hails from Stockholm.
The Rangers' lone goaltender came with the team's final selection with Adam Huska at No. 184. The Slovakia-native stands 6-foot-3 and 189 pounds. He appeared in three games with Slovakia at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka tournament.
"We had him highly rated and he was still there so we grabbed him," Clark said of Huska. "You never know with goalies what will spit out in three or four years. Plus he made the commitment to come over (to North America) and was outstanding in the U18 championships (for Slovakia). So we liked those things about him, too."
Following the draft's conclusion, the Blueshirts acquired goaltender Antti Raanta from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for prospect Ryan Haggerty.