Draft Summary Part One: Rangers Go All-Out On Forwards In Third Round

Last night was a different one for the New York Rangers. You have to go back to 2002 to find the last time the team did not hold a first round pick, but never, since the NHL Entry Draft came into existence, have the Rangers been without both a first and a second round pick. Nonetheless, Rangers Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark has proven time and time again that NHL players can be found beyond the first couple of rounds. Clark was afforded a nice consolation prize in three third round picks to work with. The Rangers opted to take three forwards with those picks.

65th Overall: Adam Tambellini, Center, Surrey Eagles [BCHL]

The Rangers went with the brother of former NHLer Jeff Tambellini and father of former NHLer and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini with their first pick. Like his brother, Adam has a very good shot. That's pretty much where the similarities end. Jeff (now playing in Europe) is a small, shifty player whereas Adam is big and not afraid to get near the crease. Here is a scouting report from Future Considerations:

"Tambellini is a good size winger, who has a good frame to add weight and strength too. He goes into the greasy or traffic areas and can take a hit as well as dish it out. He has a good wrist shot and quick release that he can use to pick a top corner. Tambellini has a good looking skating stride and possesses good closing speed. He will improve his first few steps with added leg strength. He finds the open lanes with his speed and is ready to take the pass with his stick on the ice. He has good hockey sense and the puck seems to find him."

Adam Tambellini has an uncanny resemblence to the Rangers' 2010 third round pick Steve Fogarty. Like Fogarty, Tambellini has spent time in the BCHL and will play in the NCAA; Tambellini will be joining the University of North Dakota this fall. Tambellini is also a big, lanky forward with good offensive ability to go with that size. And like Fogarty, Tambellini is raw and is going to take a while to develop. Clark said yesterday that the Rangers are prepared to let him spend all four years at North Dakota if necessary. Right now, the obvious adjustment Tambellini needs to make is in his stature. Despite his 6'3 height, he weighs only 170 pounds, which is probably close to what Mats Zuccarello weighs. Tambellini is going to need to bulk up and develop his game to suit his size and it's going to take some time, but he has the right kind of body that, should he bulk up, could allow him to bring a scary combination of size and skill. With the right development, Tambellini could develop into an effective power forward. The University of North Dakota is one of the most successful and well respected hockey programs in the United States and has developed some quality players; the names "Jonathan Toews" and "Zach Parise" might ring a bell. Tambellini will be in good hands. 

Here are a bunch of nice links that give all sorts of information on Tambellini.


75th Overall: Pavel Buchnevich, Left Winger, Cherepovets Jrs. [KHL]

Buchnevich is the clear boom-or-bust pick of this draft for the Rangers. Skill-wise there is a whole lot to like about Buchnevich. Here's a scouting report from Corey Pronman of Puck Prospectus:

“Buchnevich had a quality season in Russia and in international play, despite suffering injuries during parts of the year. The obvious aspect of his game is his skill level. He has high-end puck possession skills, with top-of-the-line hands and hockey sense. He shows good offensive instincts, standing out through his reads and creative decisions. He can be a quality passer, although he is prone to the selfish play now and then. An NHL executive told me that he has the offensive ability to dominate, at times. His skating garners a mixed bag of reviews. One scout described it as average, with another saying he is very good, thanks to his impressive acceleration and ability to put defenders on their heels. Buchnevich's area of concern is his physicality. He is roughly average in height, but he needs to add major bulk. His style of play is not one of physical intimidation.”

He was superb at the U-18 World Junior Championships this past winter, producing 11 points in seven games for Russia. Cherepovets called him up to the main KHL squad for 12 games, which is no small feat for a 17 year old. At face value Buchnevich is one of the most talented players to come out of the 2013 draft. Pronman ranked him 17th among draft eligible players and CBS Sports' Chris Peters calls him a potential "elite goal scorer" and a "first-round caliber talent.” 

So why did Buchnevich fall to the Rangers at 75th overall? For starters, the “Russian Factor.” He could easily earn lots of ice-time and a whole lot of money by staying in the KHL, whereas with the Rangers he'd start off with an entry-level contract and no guarantees that he wouldn't spend some time in the AHL. For some European players, such as our own Mats Zuccarello, that is a sacrifice they are willing to make. Others, such as former Rangers draft pick Jan Marek, aren't so willing. We really can't know what Buchnevich's intentions will be a couple of years from now but it's safe to say that it's concerning enough that teams shied away from him.

Then there are the problems with his actual game. He does need to get stronger and round out his game, but those are things that can happen with time. The biggest questions concern his commitment level. Andrei Nazarov, a former NHLer who coached Buchnevich at Cherepovets this past season, had this to say:

"'Buchnevich had a good season, but it was not excellent,' said former coach of 'Severstal' Andrei Nazarov. 'He had a great desire to go on ice, but he didn't work enough for it in training. Desire is not enough to start playing. Let's hope that Pavel will understand it.'”

There are countless players who had tons of skill but the lack of desire to match it; Pavel Brendl is perhaps the most famous example of this among Rangers draft picks. The good news here is that Buchnevich only just turned 18; there's plenty of time for him to mature. If he puts in the work then the sky is the limit.


80th Overall: Anthony Duclair, Left Wing, Quebec Ramparts

Anthony Duclair's father is a Rangers fan and surely was happy when his son's name was called at 80th overall. Duclair produced 66 points in 63 games as part of the Ramparts two seasons ago, and although the QMJHL has a reputation for being a high scoring league it is still a nice statline for the 16 year old. In fact, first overall selection Nate MacKinnon was the only player under 17 to produce better.

This led to Duclair being mentioned as a potential first-round selection going into the 2012-2013 season. However, a sprained ankle sidelined him for many weeks and didn't fully heal until later in the season, and a rift with Head Coach Patrick Roy didn't help things. Thus, his stock fell. Here is a scouting report from Future Considerations:

“Duclair possess one of the best skating strides in the entire 2013 draft class. The first thing that jumps out about him is the high speed he plays at. He consistently beats defensemen out wide. His acceleration is very impressive and he gets to his top speed very quickly. He’s incredibly agile and a very shifty skater. He has very impressive puck skills considering he’s constantly at high speeds. Duclair has the puck on a string at times, and can make defensemen and goalies alike look silly. He’s very creative with the puck on his stick and is incredibly dangerous 1-on-1 or on a breakaway. His shot is accurate and comes off with a good release. He has the ability to make crisp, accurate passes and find open teammates but is considered more of a finisher.”

The first thing that sticks out is the mentions of his speed. Duclair said after he was picked that some scouts around the league told him he was possibly the best skater in the entire draft. A quick look at Gordie Clarke's draft history – Kreider, Hagelin, Nieves, and Skjei most notably – points to him and the scouting staff placing a strong priority on players with exceptional skating ability.

The biggest knock on Duclair, aside from a mediocre sophomore season with the Ramparts, is his size. At 5'11 and 175 pounds, Duclair needs to get stronger and even still would be one of the smaller forwards on the ice. Of course, Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin are great examples of how that doesn't have to matter. Hagelin specifically is a good reference point for Duclair as they are similar kinds of players. Hagelin also dropped despite his speed because of questions surrounding his size and the entirety of his game, and while Hagelin is far from a bruiser now, he has learned to complement that speed with a willingness to chase pucks on the forecheck and the shiftiness necessary to avoid hits and make plays. Duclair can do it against junior players, but the question looms on whether he can do it against men.

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