5 Prospects New York Rangers Should Have Its Eye on in 2014 Draft Class

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIDecember 15, 2013

5 Prospects New York Rangers Should Have Its Eye on in 2014 Draft Class

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    The New York Rangers need high-end offensive talent and steady defensemen.

    Luckily, they should be able to find that in the 2014 NHL draft. There is a plethora of talent to choose from, and the Rangers should be able to come away with a number of players who will help improve the team.

    Which players should the Rangers have their eye on in the 2014 draft class?

    Read on to find out.

Nikolai Goldobin, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

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    A big-time flashy scorer would do the Rangers a lot of good. Enter Nikolai Goldobin.

    The Russian is absolutely dominating juniors, with 23 goals and 26 assists in 33 games so far this season. Last year, he scored 30 goals and had 38 assists in 68 games.

    He's 5'11" and 165 pounds, so he does need to bulk up a bit. But you cannot deny his ability to put the puck in the back of the net. 

    Goldobin is not going to be a factor on defense. But he's a natural scorer and a tremendous passer. He would instantly upgrade the power play and could probably play in the NHL right away.

    This is the type of home run pick the Rangers have avoided. Goldobin could be a game-changer. 

Nick Schmaltz, C, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

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    Nick Schmaltz could provide the Rangers with high-end talent.

    The 6-foot center from Wisconsin plays a skilled game, as evidenced by his 52 points in 64 games last year. This year, he's scored 23 points in 21 games.

    He's received high praise from the scouting community. TSN's director of scouting Craig Button said:

    Nick has elite skill. His skating is excellent and it appears as if he's gliding past opponents. Exceptional agility and he's capable of beating opponents quickly in tight areas. Excellent puck skills and he can make plays that create outstanding offensive opportunities. Good shot and combined with his playmaking, keeps defenders off balance. Very smart and poised and can hold puck to allow plays to develop. Top line type.

    That's the type of player the Rangers need. He may be a few years away, but investing a first-round pick on Schmaltz would provide a big return. 

Jake Virtanen, RW, Calgary Hitman (WHL)

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    Jake Virtanen is another player who has drawn praise from the scouting community. As TSN director of scouting Craig Button said:

    Jake has undeniable skill. Excellent skater who has speed, quickness and power. Can beat defenders with his skating and when he gets an advantage, his size makes it almost impossible for a defender to get back on equal footing. Very strong shot and can beat goaltenders from out but also has the quickness in his hands to score in tight. Has the potential to be a dynamic scoring winger.

    Virtanen is 5'11", 180 pounds and has put up 26 points in 31 games.

    He's only 17, so Virtanen is still going to need a few more years in juniors. But that's fine. He needs to develop more strength. Once he does, Virtanen has top-line potential and could be a perennial 20-goal scorer. 

Brycen Martin, D, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

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    Martin is a two-way defenseman who is equally capable of starting the rush or stopping it.

    The 6'1", 17-year-old has been terrific for the Broncos, scoring two goals and adding 19 assists in 36 games. That already outpaces last year's output, when he had 19 points in 67 games.

    He's a smooth skater who makes solid passes. Martin is not the most physical of defensemen, but he does enough to get the job done.

    Martin could end up quarterbacking the power play in a few years. His steady play should be enticing to the Rangers, who have not had steady play from their defensemen all year. 

Jacob Middleton, D, Ottawa (OHL)

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    Jacob Middleton is a 6'3", 194-pound defenseman who knows how to play his position. 

    He's not flashy, and he's not going to put up big points. But Middleton is physical and not afraid to drop the gloves. He makes smart plays and is always positionally sound.

    It's nice to have guys like P.K. Subban who can make magic happen on the ice, but you need guys to defend too. 

    Middleton is responsible in his own end, and he could be a nice second-pair defenseman for a long time.