This past weekend Pittsburgh hosted the 2012 NHL draft and the New York Rangers had another solid showing. In the first round the Rangers took Brady Skjei, a defenseman who is listed at 6’3 200 lbs. Skjei (pronounced Shey) is described on several prospect websites as being a solid defense prospect with the potential to contribute offensively. His biggest asset is said to be his superb skating. In later rounds the Rangers added winger Cristoval Nieves, defenseman Calle Andersson, and winger Thomas Spelling. While not a spectacular draft class it appears to be a solid one.
My first impression was that I was confused as to why the Rangers took a defenseman early when that is a position they appear to be stocked at with talented youngsters already in the NHL and AHL. However, after reflecting on this and reading some other reports around the Internet, it has lead me to believe that it’s because the team is preparing to make some moves come July 1st. In case you didn’t know, July 1st is when free agents can officially be signed and Rangers G.M. Glen Sather has said fans can expect the Rangers to be “fairly aggressive”. Bobby Ryan is a name that is being connected with the Rangers to go along with the well documented case of Rick Nash.
Another name that is quietly being talked about is 21 year old Justin Shultz, a junior defenseman at the University of Wisconsin whose entry contract with the Ducks has expired. Shultz is described as one of the better available prospects as he is a defensman with legitimate offensive skill totaling 16 goals and 28 assists for 44 pints in 37 games last year. Larry Brooks of the New York Post has said “[The] Rangers will do whatever possible to sign Schultz to Entry Level deal, as will all clubs on [his] expected 5-7 team list” Since he will be signing another entry level contract Shultz will be basing his choice off of playing times, team skill, city,etc and not soley on money. Also of note is that while at Wisconsin he played on the same team as current Rangers Ryan McDonagh and Dereck Stepan.
My take? Signing Shultz would be a huge boost to the Rangers in that they would get a premiere talent and possibly free up some of the overstocked blue line talent to be included in a trade package for a big name player.
Lastly, the Rangers have offered qualifying offers to three players this week: Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman, and Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello has already decided he wanted to pursue more playing time, most likely in the KHL. The Rangers simply retained his rights meaning if he were to come back from the KHL the Rangers control where he plays. Stralman has yet to decide if he wants to return to his native Sweden as his family would like or stay in New York. This offer certainly must make the Rangers look more enticing to him. What do you guys think the Rangers should do? Comment away.
About the Author
Written by Eric O'Connell
Eric O'Connell is Junior at St. John's University in Queens, New York but hails from Connecticut. He has been a life long fan of the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Rangers. Other interests include hanging out with friends, listening to music, having a good time, and Coffee Oreo Ice Cream. Follow on Twitter @EOCONN36 (opinions are mine and not Pro Sports Blogging)