Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest boom is a player that had the best value relative to where they were selected. Meaning, no one in the first round will be considered a team’s best value pick. However, the biggest bust picks will almost always be in the first round. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, the New York Rangers draft Boom and their Draft Bust.
New York Rangers Draft Boom and Bust
One would think the King of New York would be a top-round selection. However, Henrik Lundqvist was a seventh-round selection with the 205th pick. He was taken in the 2000 NHL Draft from Vastra Frolunda Juniors in Sweden. Both him and his twin brother, Joel Lundqvist, were draft-eligible that year. Joel was taken in the third round by the Dallas Stars. However, Henrik had to wait a little longer.
People can be forgiven if they didn’t think Lundqvist was the goalie of the future. New York spent a first-round pick next year on goalie Dan Blackburn. Lundqvist saw 21 goalies taken ahead of him in the 2000 Draft, but he’s been the cornerstone for the Rangers for a decade and a half.
Lundqvist stepped in for the injured Kevin Weekes in 2005-06 and didn’t yield control of the crease until the 2019-20 season. He quickly turned into the franchise goalie and a fan favourite. The Swedish shot-stopper would be the linchpin of the Rangers revival in the 2010s.
Lundqvist, a native of Sweden, consistently wins over 30 games a season in the full 82-game slates. He’d always find ways to help the Blueshirts steal games despite anemic offences in some seasons.
Lundqvist finally got his hands on that elusive Vezina Trophy in 2012. He posted a 39-18-5 record with a 1.97 goals-against-average and .929 save percentage. The King also added eight shutouts as he even earned a Hart Trophy nomination.
The Stanley Cup has eluded “The King” so far and it looks like he’s near the end of his career. However, there’s no doubt that he’s up with Ed Giacomin, Mike Richter and John Davidson as some of the best Ranger goalies of all time. He could give way to the promising duo of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. Lundqvist may not finish with a title, but he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
New York picked the Hastings, Minn. native in the second round, 51st overall of the 2008 NHL Draft. Stepan played two seasons at the University of Wisconsin before jumping right into the lineup in the 2010-11 season. He immediately paid dividends with 21 goals and 45 points in his first season. Stepan became the fourth player in league history to score a hat trick in his debut. (Auston Matthews would do so in 2016). He was even selected to represent the Rangers at the All-Star Game.
The centre became a top player for the Rangers and would be a reliable pivot for the team. He reached a career-high in goals with 22 in the 2015-16 season and scored some dramatic post-season goals. Stepan tallied an overtime-winner that eliminated the Washington Capitals. 2-1, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Stepan landed a six-year, $39 million contract in July 2015 and was paid like a top-line centre. However, the writing seemed to be on the wall when new general manager Jeff Gorton decided to tear down the team. He was shipped out the Arizona Coyotes with Antti Raanta in exchange for Tony DeAngelo and the seventh pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. Stepan scored 14 goals in 2017-18, 15 in 2018-19 and had 10 before the league was stopped.
The Rochester, New York native was taken in the fourth round, 127th overall of the 2004 NHL Draft. He impressed with the Guelph Storm of the OHL, where he teamed with future teammate Dan Girardi. Callahan made his debut with the Blueshirts in the 2006-07 season but bounced between the big club and AHL Hartford. The future captain scored four goals in 14 games in 2006-06 and eight in 52 in 2007-08. However, he did appear in 10 post-season games in both years.
Callahan finally played 81 games in 2008-09, where he got 22 goals and 40 points. His career-high for goals was 29 goals in the 2011-12 campaign. He was also named team captain before that season. The centre was a solid defender and would do whatever was asked by multiple coaches.
His time with the Rangers ended at the 2014 trade deadline when he was traded in a blockbuster deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Rangers added Martin St. Louis to bolster their goal-scoring. Callahan led the way for plenty of other Rangers to eventually make their way to Tampa. The former captain is now with the Ottawa Senators.
Players like Pavel Buchnevich and Shesterkin could also turn out to be booms if they had a bigger sample size.
The Rangers fell in love with the big-body forward from Dartmouth College in the ECAC of NCAA hockey. He was picked in the first round, 12th overall of the 2003 NHL Draft. The New York City native got selected on the back of a 23-goal season with the Big Green.
He was a big-body at 6 foot, 6 inches and 224 pounds and the future looked promising for him. Jessiman added another 16 goals in college in the 2003-04 season with Dartmouth. However, he only scored once in 12 games in the 2004-05 campaign.
He did have an NHL career, which lasted only two games with the Florida Panthers in the 2010-11 season. Jessiman didn’t get a single point in those two games and got one fighting major. He fought Troy Bodie of the Carolina Hurricanes on March 1, 2011.
Jessiman bounced around the AHL before that cup of coffee in the big time. His fate changed after those two games. The Rangers cut bait with him and dealt him to the Nashville Predators in 2008-09. He was assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals and would bounce around to Rockford, Rochester, Lake Erie, Abbotsford and Binghamton.
The big right-wing would go to the KHL with Medvescak Zagreb of Croatia before signing in Austria. A short stint with Vienna Capitals of seven games would signal the end of his playing career in 2014-15. A look at the 2003 NHL Draft reveals names like Dustin Brown, Corey Perry, Brent Seabrook and others could have been taken.
Other Notable Busts
The offensive defenceman was taken after a solid season with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL. He collected 51 assists in that campaign. Sanguinetti spent most of this time in the AHL with the Rangers organization in Hartford. He made his way to the Hurricanes organization and finally scored his first NHL goal while with the Canes in the 2012-13 season.
The playmaker did make the AHL All-Star Game three times and won a Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2019. However, he never seemed to get sustained time in the NHL. He’s also played in the KHL and German league.
The Rangers were looking for their goalie of the future in the early 2000s. They’d find it in Lundqvist, but it didn’t stop the team from drafting goalies in the first round during the decade. New York took Blackburn in the first round, 10th overall of the 2001 NHL Draft. However, a shoulder injury from a weightlifting mishap derailed his career.
Sather rolled the dice on another first-round goalie in 2004 with Montoya. He was taken sixth overall after a solid NCAA season at the University of Michigan and a gold at the IIHF World Juniors.
Lundqvist would emerge as the team’s top goalie and Montoya would become expendable. Montoya never suited up for the Rangers and made his debut with the Coyotes in 2008-09. He bounced around to the New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets, Panthers, Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers. Montoya does have a 67-49-24 record, which is serviceable, but nowhere near the sixth pick.
Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov have also struggled in recent seasons, but it’s too early to declare them busts.