"Not every top pick in the draft turns out to be a star." -Glen Sather
The cigar-chomping General Manager of the New York Rangers was right on point with that one. And to back up Sather's statement, the Blueshirts have had a somewhat spotty draft history over the last decade.
Some players have turned out to be complete gems. Some players have turned out to be complete busts.
Unfortunately, tragic circumstances also came into play.
In the salary cap era, the draft has become an even more important component of a team's success—for both the short and long term. The results can either make or break a franchise.
The Rangers are certainly no exception.
So without any further ado, here's how I power rank the Rangers first-round picks for the past decade.
1. 2005, Marc Staal: 12th overall
A mainstay on the Blueshirts blue line since 2007, Staal was the first first-round selection made under the leadership of Gordie Clark, the Rangers current Director of Player Personnel.
2. 2008, Michael Del Zotto: 20th overall
Pretty good company.
3. 2009, Chris Kreider: 19th overall
Kreider had five goals in 18 playoff games last season, right off the Boston College campus. Kreider possesses an incredible combination of speed, skill, size and strength.
All will serve him well in his NHL career.
I ranked this draft year fifth on the list because both of these first rounders are currently in the NHL. Montoya is playing goal with the Winnipeg Jets. Korpikoski patrols the wing for the Phoenix Coyotes.
5. 2011, J.T. Miller: 15th overall
Miller was part of Team USA at the World Junior Championships. He scored the final goal in a 7-0 route of the Czech Republic, enabling Team USA to reach the tournament semifinals. The rugged Miller has five goals to go along with nine helpers in 26 games this season with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.
6. 2012, Brady Skjei: 28th overall
According to Leslie Treff at hockeysfuture.com:
Skjei is a two-way defenseman whose game is stronger on the defensive side than it is on offense. He plays a sound game in his own end of the ice, although he does not make use of his big frame. Skjei is a very good skater for a player of his size, but it isn't a skill that he relies on up to this point in his career. Skjei definitely has some outstanding traits, but he is not yet the complete package. At this stage, he appears to be a lower pairing defender when he reaches his full potential.
Everything you wanted to know about Skjei (pronounced Shay) can be found right here.
7. 2010, Dylan McIlrath: 10th overall
The big defenseman made his season debut in late December with the Whale, after he suffered a dislocated kneecap (which required surgery) during the Rangers player development camp this past July. Nicknamed "The Undertaker" due to his physical style and fighting abilities, McIlrath is the type of crease-clearing, hard-nosed D-man the Rangers have not had since Jeff Beukeboom.
8. 2006, Bob Sanguinetti: 21st overall
A blue line bust, pure and simple. Sanguinetti played only five games for the Rangers (2009 - 2010).
9. 2007, Alexei Cherepanov: 17th overall
Unfortunately, we'll never know how this pick would have turned out, because Cherepanov died during a game in the KHL in 2008.
10. 2003, Hugh Jessiman: 12th overall
Without question one of the worst—if not the worst—first-round pick in Rangers history. Particularly when you consider the other players selected after Jessiman: Dustin Brown, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards and Corey Perry.
Jessiman is currently playing for the Binghamton Senators in the American Hockey League.