Evan Bouchard
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

With three draft picks in the first round of 2018, the New York Rangers will have a plethora of talent to look at to help turn this rebuild around. 

The upcoming 2018 NHL draft is chock full of talent and it is a most exciting time for New York Rangers fans. If the season were to end today, the Rangers would be selecting 10th in the draft and if the Rangers hit home runs on all three of their first-round selections, we could see a young, fast, and exciting element take the ice next season.

The projected top five players will all be difference-makers in the NHL and could step into the league right away. Unfortunately, with the Rangers success lately in the wins column, they are slipping away from a top-five selection.

But not to worry fans, the rest of the class is incredibly deep. Let’s take a look at possible options for the Rangers in the pick range of nine-to-15.

Oliver Wahlstrom

Wahlstrom is a 6-foot-1 winger from the United States Development Program and is committed to Harvard University for next season. He’s posted 75 points in 50 games so far this season. Wahlstrom is a naturally gifted goal scorer whenever he’s on the ice and already has a NHL frame. He anticipates the play really well and uses his body and size to his advantage. Wahsltrom projects to be a scoring top-six forward at the NHL level, something the Rangers may need on the wings in the future.

Noah Dobson

Dobson is a rangy, mobile defender with really nice size (6-foot-3. 178-pounds). He won’t be a huge crease-clearing defenseman but the defenseman, with a right-handed shot, plays an advanced two-way game and uses a strong skating stride to defend extremely well. A rare specimen as a teenage defender who plays well in all three zones, Dobson would be a very nice fit in a rebuilding defense corps for the Rangers.

Evan Bouchard

Another defenseman with a right-handed shot, the 6-foot-2 Bouchard is a force to be reckoned with on the ice. Extremely intelligent with a high hockey IQ, Bouchard can change the game in a multitude of different ways. He’s able to read plays well and always seems to be one step ahead of other players. His offensive development has taken a massive step forward this season, as he’s posted 84 points (23 goals and 61 assists) in the OHL for the London Knights. Again, another solid fit for the Rangers top-six D corps.

Other Options With the First Pick

There are many other high-quality players in this range for the Rangers. Quinn Hughes embraces the modern-wave defenseman at 5-foot-11 but with incredibly slick hands and is setting records for assists by a Freshman blueliner at the University of Michigan. Barrett Hayton and Rasmus Kupari are two-way centers that play an extremely mature game for their ages.

With two more picks in the draft, lets take a look at who the Rangers could snag later in the first round. There seems to be a plethora of centers in this years class, something at this point it appears the Rangers don’t need. With Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, and youngsters Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson coming up as natural centers, it doesn’t quite help the team immediately to add another centerman.

So focusing more on the wingers and defenseman again, here’s what the Rangers can look at late in the first round.

Serron Noel

The prototypical new-wave power forward who can impose with his size and strength paired with natural goal scoring ability, Noel seems like a great fit for the Rangers on the wing. At 6-foot-5 and 200-pounds, Noel has improved immensely this season after he started the year as more of a later round “project.” But he has worked a ton on his skating and completing his game and it’s clear that’s paying dividends for him. Noel compares favorably to Blake Wheeler.

K’Andre Miller

A converted forward, Miller, a defenseman, has shown he has athletic and hockey ability if he’s able to transfer positions so seamlessly and still be a projected first-round pick. Seeing the theme here, Miller boasts nice size at 6-foot-3 and 205-pounds and, again, does not sacrifice skating ability for size. Miller won’t project as the next great offensive defenseman but plays a solid two-way game. He makes a great first outlet pass and his skating ability to defend well and stay in position.

Dominick Bokk

Bokk is the eighth-rated European skater in this draft class and is a highly gifted offensive player. He hails from Germany so many will compare him to Leon Drasaitl-lite. Bokk is a 6-foot-two left winger who chose to stay in Sweden in the top league SHL rather than coming to North America and play in the CHL. Bokk’s game has taken nice steps forward in his 200-foot play by playing in the Swedish league against men. Corey Pronman from the Athletic, who’s a prospect scouting guru, says this about Bokk “when I watch Bokk, I see a player with truly elite abilities.”

Martin Kaut

Kaut is another offensive minded winger with good size at 6-foot-2 and 175-pounds is a gifted playmaker that can create offense for teammates. Kaut had seven points in seven games for the Czech Republic in the World Juniors as Chytil’s teammate. Kaut compares to the Panther’s Jonathan Huberdeau in terms of his playmaking and skating ability but maybe won’t be quite as elite as Hubeardeau. Kaut projects well as a middle-six playmaking winger.

If the Rangers strike out on the big free agents like John Tavares and Erik Karlsson, there’s still plenty of talent to be had. Infusing the roster with more young talent most certainly should help creating a faster element for the Rangers. Draft time is very exciting and this year will most definitely be a fun time for Ranger fans.

Neal Purcell has a tremendous passion for New York Rangers hockey and the sport of hockey in general. A graduate of SUNY Cortland in Upstate NY, Purcell coaches both a high school hockey team and a travel team in the winter. Purcell is also a part of a small family business in the Central New York Region.