3 prospects the Rangers could target in a first-round trade-up

Feb 18, 2024; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette coaches against the New York Islanders during the third period of a Stadium Series ice hockey game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NHL Draft commences on Friday night and the New York Rangers could be looking to make a splash. Currently holding the No. 30 overall pick in the first round, the Rangers could be looking to make a trade and move up the draft order for a more high-profile prospect.

According to Larry Brooks of The New York Post, Rangers team president and general manager Chris Drury has been exploring potential trade scenarios that would move the Blueshirts up the order:

“Drury is also attempting to use Kakko in conjunction with the club’s own 30th-overall selection to move up in the first round,” Brooks reports.

If a draft day trade-up were to come to fruition, who are some of the prospects that the Rangers could be targeting?

The Rangers could add talent to their defensive corps

New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) warms up before a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

With Jacob Trouba’s future uncertain, the Rangers could prioritize adding talent to their defensive corps in the draft. Anton Silayev is a physical defenseman that Drury could target in a trade-up.

Silayev is the No. 7 ranked prospect in this year’s draft class according to Elite Prospects, so the Blueshirts would likely need to sacrifice a haul of assets to move far enough up the order to draft him. However, Silayev would be an incredibly exciting addition to the Blueshirts’ prospect pool.

The 6-foot-7, 207-pound left-hander is only 18 years old yet already beginning to rise to prominence in Russian hockey as a member of Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod. His scouting report on Elite Prospects is sure to generate plenty of excitement:

Silayev’s a giant defenceman with the skating ability to cover any area of the ice in the blink of an eye. His form is perfect, whether you look at his posture, the flexibility through his ankles, knees, and hips, or the overall output. With that explosive skating stride comes a vast defensive range and a willingness to activate into the play.

EliteProspects 2024 NHL Draft Guide

In addition to Silayev, there could be another defenseman for the Rangers to target near the top half of the draft. Charlie Elick is another intriguing 18-year-old Canadian defenseman who could pop up on the Blueshirts’ radar. He’s the No. 17 ranked prospect according to Elite Prospects, which means trading up for him should be far more manageable.

Physical, proactive defence is Elick’s game. He’s an explosive backward and lateral skater, which he uses to instantly take the middle, then teleport across the ice and prevent the entry. His stick is seemingly in every lane, tipping every pass or shot inside his wing span. His mobility allows him to stay tight to the off-puck threat, but then easily win the race to a retrieval at the end boards

EliteProspects 2024 NHL Draft Guide

Either Elick or Silayev would be exciting selections for the Rangers in the first round. However, they could opt to add more offensive talent to their prospect pool.

Targeting a power forward to bring more physicality to the Rangers

Liam Greentree is another Canadian prospect who could be an exciting addition to the Rangers’ pool. The 6-foot-2 winger is the No. 12 ranked prospect according to Elite Prospects. He put together an incredible 2023 season in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires, totaling 90 points (36 goals and 54 assists) in 64 games played.

Greentree navigates his way around opponents with a series of look-offs, give-and-goes, and a sophisticated delay game that allows him to problem-solve his way around numbers off the rush. He’s constantly scanning, registering his options and the obstacles that would keep him from getting them the puck.

EliteProspects 2024 NHL Draft Guide

May 24, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) reacts after a play during the third period in game two of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers fans developed a taste for physicality on the offensive end this season with the emergence of Matt Rempe. Drury could aim to add more physical forwards like Rempe to the pool this summer. Greentree brings a similar style of play with grit and sandpaper that Drury could find valuable.

The Rangers could add another talented winger to their pool

From left, Adam Sykora and Brennan Othmann take part in the Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Rangers Training facility in Tarrytown July 12, 2022

The Rangers’ prospect pool is already brimming with talent on the offensive end and, in particular, on the wing. Their top two prospects are Brennan Othmann (2021 first-round pick) and Gabriel Perreault (2023 first-round pick). But another exciting wing prospect could catch Drury’s attention on draft night.

Ryder Ritchie is the No. 22 ranked prospect in this year’s draft class according to Elite Prospects, so the Rangers likely wouldn’t have to sacrifice too much or move up too far to land him. The 17-year-old Canadian-Swedish forward comes in at 6-foot, 176 pounds, and plays with plenty of pace and playmaking ability on the ice.

Ritchie’s both a scoring and playmaking threat, he combines give-and-goes with crossovers and east-west movement, constantly shifting the defence and creating gaps. Just when opponents think they’ve figured him out, he cuts back and finds the trailer. His shot, in particular, is a constant threat. There are zero tells inside his release, transferring his weight suddenly and hiding his blade the whole time. He adapts to tricky passes and instantly fires them, even under pressure.

EliteProspects 2024 NHL Draft Guide

This past season in the WHL, Ritchie totaled 44 points in 47 games played for the Prince Albert Raiders. His playing style is reminiscent of some of the Rangers’ top forwards, which could make him a solid prospect to develop in their pool. However, at 17 years old, it could take Ritchie a while before he is ready to make an impact at the NHL level. With the Rangers in win-now mode, they may want to target a more ready-made product that could see the ice at Madison Square Garden sooner rather than later.

Drury could have some tricks up his sleeve (as he usually does) this offseason. With numerous key Rangers players on the trade block, expect Drury to be aggressive on draft night as he gears up for free agency, which kicks off on Monday.

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