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Rangers Draft History (1985-2001)

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Over the last 39 summers, the Rangers have selected 395 players from across the world as part of the NHL’s Amateur/Entry Draft process. Some picks have worked out tremendously well. Others haven’t. Such is the nature of the draft. But regardless of any ‘success’ measurement, there always seems to be some lasting memories created by the players that are selected each year. In a continuation from yesterday, takes a look at some of those drafted players who have lent their name to Blueshirt history over the last four decades.

When selecting a player at the Draft a team can never be quite certain how the player will eventually pan out. The Drafts of 1985 and 1986 proved to be gems for the Blueshirts. The Rangers’ selection of Swedish native Ulf Dahlen with the seventh overall pick in 1985 marked the first time in team history that a European-trained player was tabbed in the first round. Dahlen played three seasons with the Blueshirts from 1987-88 to 1989-90, collecting 71 goals and 60 assists in 189 games while also serving as a solid two-way performer on Broadway. Dahlen was traded to Minnesota in 1990 in exchange for Hall of Famer Mike Gartner. The Rangers’ second round selection that year proved to be arguably the best second round choice in team history as Northwood Prep star Mike Richter’s name was called 28th overall. Richter’s numerous Blueshirt records as well as his stellar performance en route to the 1994 Stanley Cup championship speak to his place in Rangers Draft history.

The following summer, the Rangers selected another young player out of prep school, as Brian Leetch became the ‘steal’ of the round at the ninth spot out of Avon Old Farms in Connecticut. As with Richter, the selection of Leetch proved to be one of the most important moves in team history. The fact that eight teams passed on the two-time Norris Trophy winner says a lot about the nature of the Draft.

The Blueshirts’ Draft success continued in 1988 with the selection of another prep school star as they announced right winger Tony Amonte in the fourth round and again in 1990 as the club welcomed Doug Weight (second round), Sergei Zubov (fifth round) and Sergei Nemchinov (12th round). In various capacities, all three players were instrumental in the club breaking their 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994. Although a young Amonte was dealt to Chicago at the 1994 trade deadline in exchange for forwards Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan, Blueshirt fans will never forget the cry of ‘Matteau, Matteau’ that erupted from The Garden airwaves on May 27, 1994.

In 1991, the Rangers selected Alexei Kovalev with the 15th overall pick, marking the first time that a Russian player had ever been taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. European players became integral to the Rangers’ focus over the next few years with the selections of defenseman Mattias Norstrom in the second round in 1992, winger Niklas Sundstrom in the first round in 1993 and defenseman Kim Johnsson with the final pick of the 1994 Draft. Also selected in 1993, in the seventh round, was Clarkson University star Todd Marchant, who was later traded to Edmonton in exchange for Craig MacTavish – another integral member of the 1994 Cup squad. MacTavish currently coaches Marchant in Edmonton. Sault Ste. Marie goaltender Dan Cloutier became the first netminder ever selected by the Rangers in the first round as he was chosen with the 26th overall pick in 1994. Over the next few summers, the Rangers added such players as Marc Savard (fourth round – 1995), Dale Purinton (fifth round – 1995), Mike York (sixth round – 1997), Mike Mottau (seventh round – 1997), Manny Malhotra (first round – 1998) and Tomas Kloucek (fifth round – 1998) who have all made their NHL debuts on Broadway. Over the last three summers, the likes of Jamie Lundmark, Martin Richter, Dan Blackburn, Fedor Tutin, Garth Murray, Bryce Lampman and Ryan Hollweg have been added to the organization, where they, too, will one day have the opportunity to make their mark on Rangers Draft history.
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