by Patrick Hoffman on 06/25/12 at 02:00 PM ET
PH: With their first pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Blueshirts took defenseman Brady Skjei. Tell us what you know about him and if you think this was a good pick or not?
JR: Good skater and is a product of the USNTP program. He has a very good ability to read the ice. I disagree with the Rangers about his offense as he needs a lot of work there. His defensive skills are very good and he is not afraid to use his body to make plays.
Skjei is heading to Minnesota, which is one of the top NCAA programs in the U.S. (They were WCHA regular season champs)
Skjei reminds me of Ryan McDonagh when he first entered Wisconsin, but I see this as a three to four year development time player.
PH: How does this pick fit in with what the Rangers are trying to do as an organization?
JR: Skjei fits in with the physically fit, strong defenders like Staal, Girardi, Sauer, and McDonagh. He is a team first player, which is a requirement to play for Torts.
PH: If you can, please tell us about some of the other Rangers’ picks such as Cristoval Boo Nieves, Calle Anderrsson, and Thomas Spelling. What can these three prospects bring to the Rangers’ organization?
JR: Nieves - Big offensive minded player, good skater, smart passer but rail thin and not very strong on defense. Nieves is going to Michigan which is a good program for him. They will polish his offensive game and teach him how to play defense. A project worth taking as I had Nieves on my watch list because his offensive game offers potential to be a power forward.
Calle Andersson is a pure offensive minded defender who I also liked for his offensive game and was worth a 4th round pick. Strictly a one way player who, while I liked his offense, I wonder where he would fit with the Rangers because he doesn’t play a physical defense.
Thomas Spelling is a player that I don’t have a whole lot of info on. What I do know is he was the leading goal scorer on his team (31) in the Top Danish league at 18. He is moving up to the Swedish Elite league where he signed a 2-year contract to play for Rogle Angelholm. Hard to really get a good read on him playing in Denmark and I think how he plays against the best in Sweden will give us an idea how legit he is.
PH: How would you grade the Rangers’ draft this year? Why?
JR: I think the Rangers played it safe this year looking at long term projects rather than going after second level juniors. I am disappointed that they did not add another goalie as the depth at that position is suspect. This was a 2 round draft but the Rangers were at the tail end of each round which limited their options to find players who fit the physical, shot-blocking system.
PH: Anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
JR: There were a lot of questionable picks as too many teams went size over skill. It was a draft that reminded me of the days when NHL teams were so worried about having to play against the trap. Teams are looking at ways to overpower each other now that defense has once again become dominant in the NHL. It wasn’t a great draft unless you had a Top 10 pick.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.