NEW YORK RANGERS DAY TWO
By Warren Kozireski–
Offensive defenseman seemed to be the theme on the second day of the 2019 NHL Draft for the Rangers, at least for three of their first five selections.
“Unfortunatley in seven rounds you can’t get seven Kakko’s, but each time we dialed in on a player and felt good where we took him and our table is excited,” Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said after the draft. “The buzz isn’t there like it is in the first round, but we really fell we got some skills, some size, some skating and look forward to Development Camp to see some of these guys on the ice.”
“You build through defense and down the middle and we’re trying to take as many shots at that as possible and at the end of the day, if they all turn out and are good players, we’ll have some value to trade around the league.”
In the second round, 49th overall, the Rangers selected Edmonton born Matthew Robertson. The left-shot 6’4”, 201 lb. defenseman has played the last two seasons with the Oil Kings in the WHL and combined for 14 goals and 43 assists in 119 games during the period.
“A lot of emotions and a surreal experience going through all of this…but I’m happy for me and my family,” Robertson said. “I’m a two-way defenseman who can help out offensively, but can shut guys down as well.
After selecting Sweden center Karl Henriksson with their second-second round pick nine slots later, the Rangers dipped into the USHL ranks to take Zac Jones in the third round, 68th overall. The 5’10” mobile defenseman and University of Massachusetts commit put up some solid offensive numbers in Tri-City with 52 points in 56 games including 45 assists.
“I blacked out for a second there; there are no words to describe how incredible this feeling is right now,” Jones said moments after being selected. “My family is actually from Binghamton, so all my family back home is pretty pumped for this right now and I can’t wait to be a Ranger.
“I’d say I’m an offensive defenseman and a power play guy who loves to feed the puck and skate. I’m not a very big guy or a physical guy, but I think with the right path I think I can be known more of a two-way defenseman; that’s my goal.”
6’2”, 176 lb. defenseman Hunter Skinner of the Lincoln Stars in the USHL was their fourth-round choice 112th overall. He put up 22 points in a combined 52 games after a midseason trade from Muskegon.
“I’m either going OHL or college (Western Michigan) as of now and I still have Lincoln as an option, but leaning toward making a decision after this (the draft),” Skinner said.
“I’m an offensive defenseman who loves to skate the puck up the ice, create plays and put the puck in the back of the net.”
The team went to Europe for both sixth round selections taking right wing Leevi Aaltonen from Finland and Swedish center Adam Edstrom.
In the seventh round, they harkened back to their 70’s and 80’s roots in taking the grandson of former Rangers scout Sam Ciccolini and University of Michigan commit and right-wing Eric Ciccolini 205th overall from Toronto of the OJHL.
“I try to use my speed all over the ice offensively and defensively,” Ciccolini said. “I think it (college hockey) is going to be a really big challenge for me as I’ve never played against those bigger players and older players, but it will be a really good challenge for me and I think I can be an impact player there and succeed.
(Photo by Koz)