When the Rangers step to the podium for the first time at Sunday's NHL Draft, 64 players will have already been selected and a full two rounds will have passed. In fact, barring a trade that would see them move up in the draft, this will be the lowest the Rangers have made their first pick in any draft in franchise history.
But that doesn't mean their selection with the 65th overall pick will be any less significant then if they still had selections in the first two rounds of the draft.
"This is the first time in my career I have had to wait so long to make a pick," explained Gordie Clark, the Rangers Director of Player Personnel. "But these are still important picks. The difference is that in the first round we tend to take the best player available regardless of position. Here we can think more about filling a need in the organization. For example we are a little light on defense because all of our young (defensemen) are already in the NHL for the most part. So that is one area we would target. And seeing if we can find a possible future No. 1 goaltender, as well."
The Rangers traded their 2013 first round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer as part of the deal which landed Rick Nash on Broadway. And this year's second rounder was packaged to San Jose right beore the 2013 trade deadline to acquire Ryane Clowe. These two moves are examples of how draft picks, as well as prospects, are assets for an organization, just as much so as a proven player.
"I love selecting top players on draft day, but I was also very much in favor of both of these trades," stated Clark, who has served as the team's Director of Player Personnel since July of 2007 and has worked in the organization for the past 11 seasons. "Nash was the horse we needed, the horse we rode throughout the entire season. And I loved the Ryane Clowe trade. He was the type player we needed at that time."
The Rangers will have three picks in the third round of Sunday's NHL Draft---numbers 65, 70, and 80---providing the Blueshirts a prime opportunity to select three players that can still make an impact on the organization moving forward. The Rangers also own one fourth round selection (number 110 overall) and a sixth rounder (number 170 overall).
A year ago the Rangers drafted only four players, and did not have a third round selection, though they did have picks in each of the first two rounds. Steven Fogarty (in 2011) and Ryan Bourque (in 2009) are players currently in the Rangers system who were drafted by the Blueshirts in the third round. The Rangers did not own third round selections in either the 2012 or 2010 drafts.
Historically the third round has been a mixed bag for the Rangers with Dominic Moore (2000), Rob Zamuner and Louie DeBrusk (both in 1989) and Mike McEwen (1976) a few of the most successful third rounders drafted by the Blueshirts in Round Three.
"You might not be able to fill your biggest need in the third round, even with three thirds like we have," explained Clark. "For example, our biggest needs within the organization are a big-time offensive forward and a skilled offensive defenseman. But you probably are only going to get those type of players in the first round, not in the third. So we shift our focus to filling some of our other needs."
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