By Matt Calamia
It goes without saying that first-round picks often steal all the glory of entry drafts. With that said, plenty of teams have hit home runs in the second-round, where there are often plenty of high-quality players still available after not being selected in the opening-round.
This season the Rangers enter the 2014 NHL Entry Draft without a first-round pick, but do have a second — No. 59 overall — and if history shows us anything, the Blueshirts have had plenty of success in nabbing big players in the second-round.
In the 1970s, the Rangers drafted two cornerstones of their franchise, beginning in 1974 when defenseman Ron Greschner was taken No. 32 overall, and four years later with Don Maloney 26th overall.
Greschner played his entire career with the Rangers from 1974 through 1990, amassing 610 points in 982 games, while appearing in one Stanley Cup Final in 1979 against Montreal. He appeared in one All-Star game in 1980, and ranks seventh all-time in points, fourth all-time in games and second in goals, assists and points by a Rangers defenseman. In the playoffs, Greschner ranks fourth in games played, second in goals by a defenseman and is tied for third in assists.
Maloney spent most of his career with the Rangers, skating on Broadway from 1978 through 1989. He — along with his brother, Dave — helped lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1979 against Montreal.
The Lindsay, Ont.-native played 653 games with the Rangers, scoring 195 goals and 502 points, putting him 11th all-time in team history. His 307 assists is ninth-best, while his 739 penalty minutes is 10th best. Maloney is third all-time in playoff games played with 85, while his 57 points are fourth-best. He’s in the top-10 in both playoff goals and assists as well.
The 1980s saw the Rangers strike gold in net, when they drafted Mike Richter 28th overall in 1985. All he did was break nearly every goaltending record in team history, while leading the organization to its only Stanley Cup since 1940 in 1994.
The Abington, Penn.- native made his Rangers debut during the 1988-89 playoffs and never looked back. In parts of 14 seasons with the Rangers, Richter amassed 301 wins — a record when he retired — including a 42-win season in 1993-94, which still holds up as the franchise-best. Richter was a three-time all-star.
Richter finished with 41 playoff wins — a record when he retired — and nine shutouts, which he co-holds with Henrik Lundqvist.
Arguably the best American-born goaltender ever, Richter appeared in three Olympic Games and two World Cups, as well as one Can Cup in 1991-92. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008, alongside Brian Leetch.
The Rangers also had success drafting Jan Erixon (30th, 1981), Tomas Sandstrom, (36th, 1982), current assistant coach Daniel Lacroix (31st, 1987) and Troy Mallette (22nd, 1988).
The Blueshirts had one notable second-round pick in the 1990s, drafting Doug Weight 34th overall in 1990. Weight played just two seasons with the Rangers from 1991 to 1993, scoring 23 goals and 70 points in 118 games.
He was traded to the Edmonton Oilers on March 17, 1993 for forward Esa Tikkanen.
The 2000s saw the Rangers return to form in the second-round, beginning in 2001 when the Blueshirts drafted defenseman Fedor Tyutin 40th overall.
Tyutin played in 250 games over four seasons with the Rangers, beginning in 2003-04. He posted 15 goals and 66 assists and was a minus-6. Tyutin found more offensive success in the postseason, where he registered 9 assists in 24 games.
The Rangers sent Tyutin — along with defenseman Christian Backman — to Columbus on July 2, 2008 in exchange for forwards Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche. He’s played there ever since.
In 2004 the Rangers selected center Brandon Dubinsky with the 60th pick, who would play a big role in the team’s success in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Dubinsky made his debut with the Rangers when he skated in six games as a 20-year-old during the 2006-07 season. His best season came in 2010-11 when he scored 24 goals and 30 assists for 54 points in 77 games. In six seasons with the Blueshirts, Dubinsky posted 81 goals and 213 points in 393 games.
In the postseason, Dubinsky scored seven goals and 10 assists in 31 games. He was traded to Columbus on July 23, 2012 in a package for Rick Nash.
A year after Dubinsky, the Rangers secured a piece for their defense when they drafted Michael Sauer 40th overall in 2005.
Sauer made his Rangers debut when he skated in three games during the 2009-09 season, but became a regular in New York during the 2010-11 season when he scored three goals and 15 points in 76 games. Unfortunately, his career was derailed in late 2011 when he suffered a head injury. He has not played a game since then.
For the third season in a row, the Rangers picked up a piece to their roster in the second-round, this time drafted a young Russian named Artem Anisimov 54th overall in 2006.
Anisimov spent three seasons with the Rangers from 2009 through 2012, scoring 46 goals and 108 points in 244 games. He registered four goals and seven assists in 26 playoff games. He — along with Dubinsky and other players — were traded to Columbus for Nash.
The most recent second-round find came in 2008 when the Rangers drafted center Derek Stepan 51st overall.
After two seasons at the University of Wisconsin, Stepan made his Rangers debut in 2010 and made an immediate impact, scoring a hat trick in his very first game in the NHL. In that time, Stepan has never missed a single regular season game, skating in 294 straight while posting 73 goals and 197 points as one of the team’s best two-way forwards, easily making him one of the team’s best draft picks in recent history.
Stepan has 10 goals and 29 points in 61 career playoff games, including five goals and 15 points this past season.
The 24-year-old represented the United States at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The last time the Rangers picked No. 59 came in 2012, when they selected forward Cristoval ‘Boo’ Nieves. The Baldwinsville, NY-native has not played a game with the Rangers since being drafted two years ago, but has had a solid two years at the University of Michigan. As a freshman in 2012-13, Nieves posted eight goals and 29 points in 40 games. He followed it up with 22 points in 34 games as a sophomore. He is expected to return to Michigan this upcoming season as a junior.
Barring a move, the Rangers will be without a first-round pick Friday night in Philadelphia, but as history shows, big winners can be waiting to hear their name called Saturday afternoon.