With the 85th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia the Rangers addressed a pair of organizational needs by selecting rugged center Keegan Iverson from the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.
The 18 year-old Iverson stands 6-feet tall and weighs a solid 220 pounds already. He combines a very physical style of play with good defensive discipline and impressive vision offensively, according to multiple scouting reports. Last year he scored 22 goals, totaled 42 points, and accumulated 70 penalty minutes while playing with Portland. He has established himself as a feared fighter, as well, during his time in the WHL.
"With the way the game is going you've heard every new GM say we want to get bigger and stronger and faster, and play that heavy style; well that's the type of game (Iverson) plays," said Gordie Clark, the Rangers Director, Player Personnel. "(Portland) had a really good team (this season) with five really high-skilled players that got most of the ice time. So I think with more ice time available next year (Iverson's) numbers will go up."
The Rangers needed to fill some voids at the center ice position and also had the need for big, strong, physical forwards within their system, and Iverson meets all of these requirements. A native of Minnesota, he decided to play major junior hockey instead of opting to attend college as many Minnesota-born hockey players do, and is projected to play a Top-Six role for the Winterhawks next season.
Interestingly Central Scouting had Iverson ranked as the 85th best prospect in the 2014 NHL Draft, and the Rangers selected him exactly at No. 85 overall on Saturday.