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With Coach in Place, Gorton Looks Ahead to Draft and Beyond

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers have their man in David Quinn, who was introduced as the 35th head coach in franchise history on Thursday.

With that decision made, the focus for General Manager Jeff Gorton now shifts to the rest of the offseason, starting next week at the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo that proceeds the draft itself beginning June 22nd in Dallas.

The Rangers have three first-round picks (Nos. 9, 26 and 28) and an additional four over the next two rounds. 

But Gorton said on Thursday he could be busy at the draft looking to improve the team in any way he can.

"I think we have to be," Gorton said when asked if he expects to be active at the draft. "We should be working that floor pretty good and finding out what's available and how we can make our team better. I think I've said this before that we're not tied to drafting all those three picks or the seven in the first three rounds. We're going to try and make [the team] better and try to get players that we can move forward with."

When asked about the length of the rebuild, Gorton refused to put any sort of end date on it, as every team is unique.

"I hate timelines," he said. "I don't want to be tied to a timeline on a rebuild. I think we have a lot of work to do, but I think we have a lot of good players here. I think we have a lot of good young players coming and we're really excited about where it's going. How long it's going to take? I don't know. If you look around the league, it's been different for different teams that have done it."

Gorton said he was very pleased by the showings of several young players at this month's World Championship tournament in Denmark. First-round picks Lias Andersson (Sweden) and Filip Chytil (Czech Republic) showed well, while first-year defenseman Neal Pionk played a strong role for Team USA, who captured Bronze. 

For Andersson and Chytil - and any young player for that matter - jobs will be earned come September, not given.

"I would like them to go work out hard, train all summer long and compete for a job," Gorton said. "That's how I think we have to talk about all our young players. No one is going to be given anything, and they understand that. In a perfect world, yeah [they will be on the team]. Will they be on our team? That's up to them."
There will certainly be young players on the team next season, and the GM said that's where a coach like Quinn comes in. He has experience developing young players, but according to Gorton, what set him apart was his strong communications skills, which he expects will help him also form strong relationships with the team's veteran players.

"I think communication is a huge part with these players today," Gorton said. "I think that's probably the No. 1 thing that stuck out."

But there will certainly be spots available for young players who got a look at the end of the year, as well as those just entering the organization now.

"I think it's unrealistic to be too young," he said, "but there will be room for young players to make our team."

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