By Warren Kozireski —
MONTREAL — The New York Rangers waited until day two of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft to make a selection after trading their first rounder to Winnipeg in the Andrew Copp deal, but they added six players to the stable with five forwards and one defenseman.
Slovakia winger Adam Sykora was their second-round pick. The 5’11”, 174 lb. showed well against his peers in three international tournaments this past season with a combined six goals and seven assists over 16 games.
“I try to play physically, I love skating, I’m a hard-working player so I try to bring a lot of energy on the ice and give a lot of hits,” Sykora said. Rangers’ fans may like his answer to the question of who he models his game after.
“I really like Brad Marchand from the Boston Bruins because he isn’t scared about taller players, so that’s my player.” When then asked if he was a “rat”, he said, “I try to play that way, yes.”
His father, Roman, played parts of two seasons in western Canada and went on to play nine more years in Slovakia and grew into over 200 lb. so there may be more in Sykora’s growing.
The Rangers went with centers with their third and fourth round selections in Bryce McConnell-Barker and Noah Laba.
McConnell-Barker is with Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL where is netted 23 goals with 26 assists in 68 games and added five points in ten postseason contests. Already 6’1, 194 lb., he stood top-ten in the league among rookie scorers after the 2021-22 season was cancelled.
“I’m really happy and really grateful that the Rangers picked me,” McConnell-Barker said. “I’d say I’m a two-way centerman, I work really hard all over the ice, I’m good defensively, but I can also produce offensively as well.”
Laba has a similar build at 6’2, 192 lb. and the Colgate University 2022 commit had 39points in 50 games with Lincoln of the USHL this past season.
The Rangers stayed with the college route with their fifth-round selection in University of Nebraska-Omaha defenseman Vittorio Mancini.
In his third year of eligibility for the draft, the 6’3” 216 lb. right shot was born and started playing hockey in Michigan and played parts of two seasons in Sweden before returning to play with Green Bay in the USHL.
In his freshman campaign he registered five assists in 38 games.
“A few minutes ago, I heard my name and it’s a great feeling,” Mancini said. “I’m a physical player and strong with the puck and if I’m playing physical, I’m playing my best hockey.”
Left wing Russian-born Maxim Barbashev was their second fifth round selection. He has played the last two season with Moncton in the Quebec Major Junior League where the 6’1”, 183 lb. winger had his best season offensively in 2021-22 with 42 points in 59 games.
With their final selection in the sixth round, the Rangers took Harvard center Zakary Karpa. He scored 12 points in 33 games as a true freshman standing 6’2”, 190 lb.
(Photo by Koz)