Jeff Gortonn
ESNY Graphic

With a boatload of picks in the early rounds of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Rangers must strategize a clear path.

After a trio of trades at the trade deadline earlier the week, the New York Rangers find themselves in a prime position to climb out of the ongoing rebuild.

Losing Rangerstown favorites like Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes is a tough pill to swallow. But the turnaround can lead the Rangers away from the underdog status and back to perennial hockey favorites.

All in all, as of right now, the Rangers have five draft selections in the first two rounds—two in the first round and three in the second. This is, of course, before all of the conditions could possibly be met. For instance, the two second-round picks from both Tampa Bay and Dallas become first rounders if each team meets certain criteria at the end of this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning have to win the Stanley Cup this year and the Dallas Stars have to make it to the Western Conference Championship round, with Zuccarello playing 50 percent of the playoff games.

It reads like a big gamble for the Rangers, but with how Tampa Bay is playing at the moment, it doesn’t seem like a pipedream. Dallas, on the other hand, is going to give some worrying and anxiety as they approach the playoffs. Even more, Zuccarello suffered a broken arm in his first game with his new team, so his status is unknown come playoff time.

The Rangers have a lot of decisions to make before the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in June. Fortunately, erasing the pending free agents should make things a little more clear after this season ends.

So, what exactly can the Rangers do with these five picks?

Trade Up

Depending on how well the Rangers do in their last 20 games of this season, their chances for the first overall pick will see-saw in the lottery.

If the Rangers do well enough to finish out this season with a winning trend, then they can use the draft picks to move themselves up. Jack Hughes, from the United States Development Program, is heavily favorited to go No. 1 overall. If the Rangers front office wants him, they can certainly try and get him.

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