The Rangers prospect pool has taken quite a hit over the last few seasons, due to highly touted guys such as Igor Shesterkin, K’Andre Miller, and Braden Schneider, amongst others, graduating to the NHL. With that being said, the Blueshirts still have a more than solid group of youngsters yet to fully embark on their NHL careers. Let’s break down the top ten.
#1: Brennan Othmann
Brennan Othmann took the OHL by storm throughout the 2021-22 season. The 19-year-old winger was 2nd in the league in goals with 50, and 7th in the league in points with 97, a 64-point increase from his previous junior season. Othmann’s dynamic offensive game is highlighted by his absolute rifle of a shot, which he’s continued to terrorize goaltenders with during the World Juniors tournament. Othmann’s game has continued to improve over the course of the tournament and he was most recently promoted to team Canada’s top line, playing alongside Mason McTavish, and Connor Bedard, two of the best young talents in the game. Brennan has a chance, albeit a slim one, to crack the Rangers opening night roster, but he’s most likely headed back to Juniors for one more season. Regardless, the Rangers view him as an important piece to their future.
#2: Vitali Kravtsov
Vitali Kravtsov and the New York Rangers have had a rocky relationship, to say the least. There have been multiple occurrences of Kravtsov being unhappy with the Rangers sending him to the AHL, the most recent occurrence coming before the start of last season. Kravtsov made his NHL debut during the shortened 2021 season, where he had a promising 20-game audition. The 22-year-old winger was under the assumption he would have a top 9 role heading into last season. But once the Rangers sent him down to avoid sending other players through waivers, Kravtsov refused his assignment. It seemed like his Rangers tenure was coming to an end. However, things have seemingly smoothed over, as Kravtsov recently signed a one-year extension. Reports have come out that the Rangers plan to have the talented forward in their top 9 next season. As far as his game goes, Kravtsov has been productive in what’s widely recognized as the 2nd best hockey league in the world, the KHL. His game features sweet hands that have made for many highlight reel plays. Kravtsov is almost a lock to crack the Rangers’ opening night lineup, likely lining up as the 3rd line right wing.
#3: Zac Jones
Zac Jones is an undersized, highly skilled offensive defensemen. Jones has flashed in his sporadic 22 games of NHL action, but has yet to get consistent opportunities at the highest level. That is expected to change this year, as Jones is the favorite to land the Rangers opening on their 3rd defense pairing. Jones was very productive during his first stint in the AHL, registering 35 points in 52 games. The 21-year-old blue liner got off to a slow start, but showed consistent improvement as the AHL season progressed. The UMass alum projects to quarterback the Rangers 2nd power play unit, an opportunity to boost his point totals.
#4: Dylan Garand
Dylan Garand had a spectacular season in 2021. The 20-year-old netminder finished with a sparkling .925 save percentage in 45 games for the Kamloop Blazers. His efforts led him to winning the CHL Goalie of the Year award, given to the best goalie in junior hockey. Currently, Garand is manning the crease for team Canada in the World Juniors. The Victora native has been stellar in his first 3 tournament games, putting up a rock solid .930 save percentage, to pair with a 1.67 goals against average. As far as future ventures go, Garand is likely headed to AHL Hartford this season. An opportunity for the young goaltender to play pro hockey, and show the Rangers he’s ready to make the jump to the National Hockey League.
#5: Will Cuylle
Will Cuylle is a very high floor prospect, due to the fact he plays physically, and is sound defensively. Cuylle excelled on the penalty kill last season for the Windsor Spitfires, and saw a huge uptick in offensive production. The Toronto native tallied 80 points in 59 games, a 38-point increase from his previous junior season. Like the aforementioned Othmann, and Garand, Cuylle is also currently playing for team Canada in the World Juniors. Through 4 games, he’s collected 2 points in a 4th line role, including a sweet feed to future NHL teammate Brennan Othmann. Cuylle has an outside chance to make the Rangers opening night roster, but is most likely headed to AHL Hartford. A place where he’ll get an opportunity to play every night, while getting some pro games under his belt. Cuylle has a favorable chance to make his NHL debut at some point during the 2022 campaign.
#6: Nils Lundkvist
A year ago at this time, Nils Lundkvist was widely regarded as the Rangers top prospect. Since then he’s seen his stock fall a bit. After a rocky 25 game audition with the Rangers, Lundkvist was sent to the AHL in favor of Braden Schneider. Lundkvist had his struggles initially, but improved as the Wolfpack’s season progressed. Despite improvement, Lundkvist was still a noticeable step behind his main competitor, Zac Jones. With both being, undersized, offensive minded blue-liners, there seems to be room for just one on the Rangers roster, and at the moment, it seems bleak for the highly-touted Swedish defenseman. Could he be a trade chip for Chris Drury come the trade deadline? We’ll have to wait and see.
#7: Brett Berard
Brett Berard is a very productive winger, despite his small stature. The 19-year-old, Rhode Island native is an extraordinary skater, and is very crafty with the puck on his stick. Berard was uber-productive last season, registering 38 points in 36 games for the Providence Friars. Similarly to other Rangers prospects on this list, Berard is also competing in the World Juniors tournament. He potted his 1st goal in USA’s 3-2 win over Sweden. Berard will head back to UMass this fall for his Junior season, before taking the next step in his hockey career. He has the potential to be a legitimate top-6 winger, and could have a similar career to 2010’s Rangers legend Mats Zuccarello.
#8: Matthew Robertson
Matthew Robertson is a smooth-skating, big-bodied defensemen, who showcased some offensive upside throughout his time in the WHL. Robertson makes smart reads with the puck, making good passes in transition. The 21-year-old blue-liner recently opened some eyes at Rangers development camp. He was clearly a step above most prospects present, and could be a sleeper to crack the Rangers opening night roster. Robertson has experience playing with the team’s 3RD Braden Schneider, which could give him a leg up in the competition.
#9: Adam Sýkora
Adam Sýkora is a pesky, defensive minded forward. The 17-year-old is a rare breed of prospect, as not many young guys favorite part of the game is penalty killing, and defense, but that’s Adam Sýkora. The Slovakian native has yet to discover his untapped offense potential, but still has plenty of time. His game projects similarly to Avalanche’ winger Arturri Lehkonen. Sýkora was selected #1 overall in the 2022 CHL import draft, but will continue to play for HK Nitra in Slovakia during the 2022 season, but could head to the CHL, or maybe even the NHL after that.
#10: Ryder Korczak
Ryder Korczak is an offensive minded forward, who has emerged as the Rangers best center prospect over the past few seasons. Over the course of the 2021 season, Korczak put up 79 points in 68 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. The 19-year-old centerman is a smooth skater, with great vision to make plays. He could afford to be more physical, and needs to improve in the face-off circle. 2022 is a big year for Korczak, as it’s the first year he’s eligible to play in the AHL. He should get plenty of opportunities playing for the Hartford Wolfpack.
Others to keep an eye on: D Hunter Skinner, C Matt Rempe, C Oliver Tärnström, LW Bobby Trivigno, LW Lauri Pajuniemi, C Bryce McConnell-Barker