|NEW YORK, June 23, 2018 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton, along with Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark, oversaw the club’s activity at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Blueshirts, who held 10 picks in the draft, selected three forwards, six defensemen, and one goaltender. The 10 selections were the most the Rangers made in one year for the first time since the NHL adopted a seven-round Draft format in 2005.
The Rangers made three of their selections on Friday and seven of their selections on Saturday. The Blueshirts, who made three selections in the first round of the NHL Amateur/Entry Draft in the same year for the first time in franchise history, selected forward Vitali Kravtsov with the ninth overall pick, defenseman K’Andre Miller with the 22nd overall pick, and defenseman Nils Lundkvist with the 28th overall pick.
Kravtsov, 18, received the Alexei Cherepanov Award as the Kontinental Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year in 2017-18. In 16 games with Traktor Chelyabinsk during the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs, Kravtsov registered six goals and five assists for 11 points. Kravtsov’s 11 points were the most a KHL junior player (younger than 20 years old) has registered in one playoff year in the league’s history, eclipsing the previous record of nine held by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Valeri Nichushkin. In addition, Kravtsov’s six goals in the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs were tied for the second-most a KHL junior player has recorded in one playoff year in the league’s history. Other than Kravtsov, the only three KHL players younger than 20 years old who have tallied six or more goals in one playoff year are Kuznetsov (seven), Nichushkin (six), and Eeli Tolvanen (six). In addition, the 18-year-old Kravtsov became one of only three players younger than 22 years old in KHL history to register at least 11 points in one playoff year (Vladimir Tarasenko – 16 points as a 21-year-old; Kuznetsov – 11 points as a 20-year-old). Including the Russian Superleague (RSL), which was in existence from 1992-93 – 2007-08, Kravtsov’s 11 points in the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs were tied for the third-most by a teenager in one playoff year since 1992-93. Since 1992-93, the only teenagers who recorded more points than Kravtsov in one playoff year in Russia’s highest league of professional hockey are Maxim Afinogenov (16 in 1998-99) and Evgeni Malkin (15 in 2005-06), and he is tied for first among 18-year-olds in points in one playoff year over the span.
Miller, 18, skated in 58 regular season and tournament games with the U.S. National U18 Team in the United States Development Program (USNTDP) this past season, registering nine goals and 20 assists for 29 points, along with a plus-23 rating and 26 penalty minutes. He ranked third among defensemen on the U.S. National U18 Team in goals, points, and plus/minus rating in 2017-18. In addition, Miller skated in 22 games with Team USA in the United States Hockey League (USHL) during the past season, registering 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) and a plus-13 rating. He led all defensemen on Team USA (min. two games played) – and ranked fifth among USHL defensemen – in points per game in 2017-18 (0.73). Miller also helped the United States earn a silver medal at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship, as he registered three points (one goal, two assists) and a plus-four rating in seven games. In addition, he represented the United States at the 2016 World U17 Challenge, the 2017 U18 Five Nations Tournament, the 2016 U17 Four Nations Tournament, and the 2017 U17 Five Nations Tournament. Miller has also been invited by USA Hockey to the 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase.
Lundkvist, 17 (turns 18 years old on July 27), split this past season between Lulea in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and Lulea’s junior team in SuperElit. He skated in 28 SHL games with Lulea, registering two goals and three assists for five points, along with a plus-two rating. He ranked third among SHL players younger than 18 years old in goals and points in 2017-18, trailing only Rasmus Dahlin and David Gustafsson, and he also tied for third among SHL players younger than 18 years old in assists. Lundkvist was one of only 10 defensemen younger than 18 years old who skated in at least one SHL game during the past season, and his 28 games played were tied for the second-most among SHL defensemen younger than 18 years old in 2017-18 (Dahlin – 41). He averaged 16:00 of ice time in his 28 SHL games and posted a plus/minus rating of even or better in 22 of the 28 contests. Lundkvist made his SHL debut on Oct. 26, 2017 against Malmo, and he tallied his first career SHL goal/point on Dec. 30, 2017 against Skelleftea. In addition, he skated in two SHL playoff contests with Lulea. He also skated in 26 games with Lulea’s junior team in SuperElit in 2017-18, registering three goals and 11 assists for 14 points, along with a plus-two rating and 18 penalty minutes. Lundkvist was selected as the Best Defenseman in SuperElit in 2017-18. In addition, he registered five assists and posted a plus-five rating in six playoff games during the season. Lundkvist participated in the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship, registering two assists and a plus-one rating in seven games while helping Sweden earn a bronze medal.
With their first pick on Saturday, the Rangers selected goaltender Olof Lindbom in the second round (39th overall pick).
Lindbom, 17 (turns 18 on July 23), appeared in 20 games with Djurgardens’ junior (U20) team in SuperElit this past season, posting a 3.10 GAA and a .897 SV%. He was one of 11 goaltenders younger than 20 years old to appear in at least 20 games in SuperElit in 2017-18. Lindbom helped Djurgardens’ U18 team win a gold medal and was named the MVP of the Playoffs, as he posted a 1.20 GAA and a .955 SV% in five appearances.
The Stockholm, Sweden native has represented his country in several tournaments. Lindbom was named the Best Goaltender at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship, as he posted a 1.66 GAA and a .949 SV% in six appearances while helping Sweden earn a bronze medal. In addition, he helped Sweden earn a bronze medal at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
The Rangers held two selections in the third round (70th overall and 88th overall). With the 70th overall pick, the Blueshirts selected defenseman Jacob Ragnarsson.
Ragnarsson, 18, skated in 47 games with Almtuna IS in Allsvenskan (Sweden’s second-highest professional league) this past season, registering four goals and nine assists for 13 points, along with 24 penalty minutes. Ragnarsson led all players younger than 19 years old in Allsvenskan in games played during the 2017-18, and he also led all defensemen younger than 19 years old in Allsvenskan in goals, assists, and points during the season. In addition, Ragnarsson ranked third among all team defensemen in goals and ranked fourth among all team defensemen in points in 2017-18. Ragnarsson has played in Almtuna’s organization in Sweden in each of the last four seasons (2014-15 – 2017-18). Ragnarsson split the 2016-17 season between Almtuna’s junior team and U18 team; he recorded 25 points (four goals, 21 assists) and a plus-31 rating in 23 games with Almtuna’s junior team, and he registered 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) and a plus-seven rating in 29 games with Almtuna’s U18 team.
The 6-0, 176-pounder was born in Mountain View, California, but was raised in Sweden and has represented Sweden in international tournaments. Ragnarsson’s father, Marcus Ragnarsson, played parts of nine NHL seasons (1995-96 – 2003-04) with the San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers.
With the 88th overall selection, the Rangers selected defenseman Joey Keane.
Keane, 18, skated in 62 games with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this past season, registering 12 goals and 32 assists for 44 points, along with a plus-45 rating and 52 penalty minutes. He was named to the OHL Third All-Star Team in 2017-18, as he ranked third in the OHL – and led all defensemen in the league – in plus/minus rating, and he was also tied for 13th among all OHL defensemen in points during the season. Keane, who served as an alternate captain for Barrie in his second season in the league this past season, established OHL career-highs in several categories in 2017-18, including goals, assists, points, and plus/minus rating. In addition, he registered seven assists and a plus-three rating in the 2018 OHL Playoffs, and he led all Barrie defensemen in assists and points in the playoffs.
The 6-0, 180-pounder has skated in 129 career OHL games over two seasons (2016-17 and 2017-18), both with Barrie, registering 13 goals and 50 assists for 63 points, along with a plus-17 rating and 113 penalty minutes. Prior to beginning his OHL career, Keane played one season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Keane registered 11 points (two goals, nine assists) and a plus-12 rating in 55 games with Dubuque in 2015-16, and he also notched two points (one goal, one assists) in 12 playoff contests while helping the Fighting Saints advance to the Clark Cup Finals. Internationally, the Chicago, Illinois native represented the United States at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
With their fourth round pick (101st overall), the Rangers selected defenseman Nico Gross.
Gross, 18, skated in 58 games with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this past season, registering four goals and 10 assists for 14 points, along with 46 penalty minutes. He was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team in 2017-18. Gross made his OHL debut on Sept. 29, 2017 at Guelph, and he tallied his first career OHL assist/point while skating in his second career OHL game on Oct. 1, 2017 vs. London. In addition, he helped Oshawa advance to the 2018 OHL Playoffs, and he skated in five playoffs contests with the Generals during this past season.
The 6-1, 185-pounder played in Switzerland prior to beginning his junior career in North America during the 2017-18 season. Gross skated in 33 games with EV Zug Academy of the National League B (NLB), Switzerland’s second-highest pro league, in 2016-17, registering nine assists and 44 penalty minutes. He was the only player younger than 18 years old who played in NLB during the 2016-17 season. Gross played in EV Zug’s organization in Switzerland for three seasons (2014-15 – 2016-17).
Internationally, the Pontresina, Switzerland native has represented his country in several tournaments. During the 2017-18 season, Gross represented Switzerland at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship, and the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He served as the captain of Switzerland’s team at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship, and he recorded four points (one goal, three assists) in six games during the tournament. Gross represented Switzerland at the IIHF U18 World Championship three times (2016, 2017, 2018), the IIHF World Junior Championship twice (2017 and 2018), and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament twice (2016 and 2017). He was one of only two players younger than 17 years old who participated in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship (along with Rasmus Dahlin), and he was also one of only two players younger than 16 years old who participated in the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship (along with Andrei Svechnikov).
With their fifth round pick (132nd overall), the Rangers selected Lauri Pajuniemi.
Pajuniemi, 18, split this past season between TPS of Liiga in Finland and TPS’ junior team in Nuorten SM-liiga. He skated in 32 games with TPS in Liiga in 2017-18, registering two goals and five assists for seven points, along with four penalty minutes. Pajuniemi ranked ninth among players younger than 19 years old in Liiga in points during this past season. He also tallied four points (three goals, one assist) in nine playoff contests in Liiga, and he ranked fourth on TPS in goals in the playoffs. Pajuniemi skated with TPS in the Champions Hockey League (CHL) tournament throughout the 2017-18 season, and he notched two goals in six contests. In addition, Pajuniemi registered 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 14 regular season games with TPS’ junior team in Nuorten SM-liiga in 2017-18.
The 5-11, 183-pounder has played in TPS’ organization in Finland for five seasons (2013-14 – 2017-18). In 2015-16, Pajuniemi was named to the First All-Star Team in B-nuorten SM-sarja (Finland’s U18 league) and won the Matti Hagman Award for leading the league in points (76; 28 goals, 48 assists in 45 games). Internationally, the Tampere, Finland native represented his country at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and he registered one goal in four contests during the tournament.
With their sixth round pick (163rd overall), the Rangers selected defenseman Simon Kjellberg.
Kjellberg, 18, skated in 43 games with Rogle BK’s junior (U20) team in SuperElit this past season, registering four goals and five assists for nine points, along with 24 penalty minutes. In addition, he tallied three points (two goals, one assist) and recorded two penalty minutes in three playoff contests. Kjellberg also skated in five games with Rogle BK’s U18 team during the 2017-18 season.
The 6-3, 200-pounder has played in Rogle BK’s organization since the 2015-16 season. Kjellberg’s father, Patric Kjellberg, played parts of six seasons in the NHL. Simon Kjellberg was born in Nashville, Tennessee but has represented Sweden in international competition, and he helped his district of Dalarna earn a bronze medal in the annual TV-Pucken tournament in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The Rangers acquired a seventh-round pick (216th overall) from the Carolina Hurricanes and used the pick to select forward Riley Hughes.
Hughes, 17 (turns 18 years old on June 27), skated in 30 games at St. Sebastian’s School in Massachusetts this past season, registering 21 goals and 15 assists for 36 points, along with four penalty minutes. He led St. Sebastian’s School in goals and points in 2017-18. In addition, Hughes skated in two games with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League (USHL) this past season.
The 6-1, 174-pounder has played at St. Sebastian’s School in each of the last three seasons (2015-16 – 2017-18), registering 35 goals and 27 assists for 62 points in 78 games. The Westwood, Massachusetts native is committed to play collegiate hockey at Northeastern University beginning in 2019-20.
New York Rangers 2018 NHL Entry Draft Selections