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Rangers Add Five Players on Day 2 of NHL Draft

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

CHICAGO - The Rangers wrapped up the 2017 NHL Entry Draft Saturday in Chicago with five selections to go along with two first-round selections Friday night.

New York flipped the 102nd overall pick to San Jose for picks 123 and 174, and used the first choice on defenseman Brandon Crawley. The 20-year-old blueliner had 27 points in 61 games with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League last season.

"He's been a very important player for London on defense playing against the best players," Rangers Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark told NYRangers.com. "They've gone deep three years in a row. They won the Memorial Cup two years ago and then went deep again this year. This guy is playing against the best players in major junior, and he clearly deserved to be drafted." 

The Rangers used their 145th pick to grab Swedish defenseman Calle Sjalin. The 17-year-old had five goals and added 10 helpers last season with Ostersunds IK in Sweden's Division 1, which is the country's third-tier hockey league. He was ranked 44th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. 

Clark said Sajlan missed a significant amount of time with an injury that limited his effectiveness this past season, but that he turned it on as the season progressed.

"He's got a beautiful pair of hands and a head with his thinking process," he said. "He needs to get thicker, but he's a real competitor and he has an edge to his game. We think once he catches up - especially with his skating from not playing for a year - it'll be really good to get him at that spot."

Sajlan - who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 179 pounds - won't turn 18 until September, making him - as well as first-round pick Filip Chytil - one of the youngest players in the draft. 

Forward Dominik Lakatos was added to the organization at No. 157. The Czech registered 10 goals and 12 assists in 41 games for Bili Tygri Liberec this past season and added eight goals and 13 points in 16 playoff games.

Clark called the 20-year-old a late bloomer and said his work ethic is one of his biggest strengths. That, and Lakatos' tenacity on the ice that separates him from others in Czech's top league.

"He's a very different player for that Czech league, which is all skill and speed," Clark stated. "Not a whole lot of hitting. When I first saw him, I said he's like a Tasmanian devil. He was all over the ice just going for the puck, going for the body."

Clark said the 6-foot Lakatos will play another season in the Czech Republic.

New York used the additional pick provided by San Jose to select their lone Canadian, Morgan Barron, at 174.

"I'm a big, two-way centerman," Barron told reporters in a press conference. "I try and play a 200-foot game. I like to chip in defensively and offensively, so I think I just want to be a prototypical NHL centerman who plays both ends of the ice."

After spending the last two season at St. Andrew's College in Canada, the Halifax, Nova Scotia-native is committed to Cornell University for next season, a spot Clark said will benefit his all-around game prior to him hopefully becoming a Ranger someday.

"We like where he's going to Cornell where he'll grow," Clark said of Barron. "They teach a real good defensive game up there. He's been more offensive in St. Andrew's because he's basically their best player. Now he'll learn the other side of the game of defense and by the time he comes to us, he'll have a good idea of how to play on both sides of the puck."

Barron, who stands 6-foot-2 and weights 200 pounds, said he looks to mimic Chris Kreider's playing style.

"He's a powerful two-way play who skates really well, which is something I try and do," he said. "So he's definitely I model my game after."

The Rangers used their final pick to take forward Finnish forward Patrik Virta 207th overall.

While the Rangers went young earlier in the year, Virta is one of the older players in the draft. At 21 years old, he's spent the last few seasons playing in Liiga, most recently posting 14 goals and 12 assists in 49 games with TPS a season ago.

Virta described himself as an offensive forward who is good at making plays. He said his experience - both his age and playing pro hockey overseas - makes him more ready for North America than younger Europeans.

Clark said Virta reminds him of Jesper Fast when he and his staff were scouting the Swede before the 2010 draft.

"Same size, good skater, has an NHL shot," Clark said of Virta. "Jesper was a goal scorer when he was playing in juniors. He's been doing great stuff in the men's league. It's not junior. It's a pretty good level. It just took him a little more time."

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