The Rangers have drafted their second forward from the Western Hockey League. This one is Richard Nejezchleb of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
A rather strange pick from the Rangers, though that’s not to mean I think it’s a bad one. Nejezchleb turned 20 in May and was passed over in the past two drafts. Last season, injuries derailed his season and ruined his chances of getting picked. Early shoulder issues limited him, and then later a freak accident where he was hit with a skate blade around the bench sidelined him. He really turned on the jets this season, though, so it’s easy to see why suddenly now he’s desirable. With 32 goals and 25 assists in 66 games, he certainly has some offense in him. His 6’2, 212 frame also gives him plenty of size.
Here’s what “Terrel H” of Artic Ice Hockey said about Nejezchleb, whom he ranked 60th overall in his draft rankings:
“Yet another twice passed over player, perhaps speaking the relative weakness of this draft. However, the Czech Wheat Kings winger has a very intriguing package. Big rangy winger has a really good shot and fantastic offensive hockey sense. He knows where to be to score goals, though he does not have great feet though in both agility and speed. He struggles with consistency as well. A huge project, but has good upside after his breakout year with 32 goals in 66 games this year.”
Here is Cody Nickolet of WHL From Above:
“Nejezchleb is a big strong forward from the Czech Republic. This will be the third time through the draft for him. He was passed over for a second time last year after his first year in North America, suffering injuries and only playing in 35 games. Nejezchleb is a powerful and fast skater who likes to be involved in the offensive side of the game, taking the puck to the net and creating off the cycle. He’s got an extremely hard shot and isn’t afraid to bang bodies to create space for linemates. Suffers a bit from tunnel vision but has the skills to produce and be effective as a pro player.”
Again, we’re in the late rounds, so all players being taken are going to have some issues. Nejezchleb fills a bit of a need in the NYR system, which is a shooting forward. Guys like Duclair and Buchnevich certainly can put the puck in the net but they are not real sniping, shoot-first forwards. Nejezschleb won’t play attractive hockey but will set up in good scoring areas and put the puck on net.
Because of Nejezchleb’s age, he would be an overager should he return to the WHL. All teams are only allowed to have three overagers on their roster. Thus, it remains to be seen what happens with him. Theoretically, the Rangers could sign Nejezchleb to a contract and stick him in the AHL right away.
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