The New York Rangers in the past have not been afraid to throw around large amounts of money to big name players. In the 1990s they acquired expensive players like Luc Robitaille and Wayne Gretzky. In the 2000s they spent even more money on players like Theoren Fleury, Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Bobby Holik, and Jaromir Jagr. More recently they spent a ton of money on Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Wade Redden, and Brad Richards.
Even with all that star power throughout the years, none of those players brought a Stanley Cup to the Rangers. The last time the Rangers won a Cup in 1994, it was players like Brian Leetch, Alexei Kovalev, and Mike Richter that were the key cogs in helping them win. Those three players were all drafted and developed by the Rangers themselves.
That goes to show you that drafting and developing your own players was important then, and will always be an important part of building a championship team. Since the first NHL Entry Draft in 1979 the Rangers have drafted some players who were absolute gems. They have also drafted their fair share of absolute duds.
Those draft busts are just one of the types of drafting mistakes a team can make. Sometimes a player gets selected much higher than they probably should have. They may still go on to have decent NHL careers, but they never seem live up to the expectations that come with being an high draft pick. Sometimes a player just doesn't get a fair shot with the team that originally drafted them, but go on to have successful careers elsewhere. Lastly, there are the prospects who unfortunately suffer career altering injuries, which hampers their development. All these type of drafting mistakes are included on this list.
Here are top 15 worst draft mistakes in New York Rangers history.
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15 Terry Carkner - 1984
Carkner arguably had the best NHL career out of all the players on this list, after being taken with the 14th overall selection in the 1984 draft. He played 858 career NHL games, but only 52 of those were for the Rangers. After his rookie season in 1986-87, the Rangers didn't see him as a long term fit and he was traded to Quebec. He was traded again just a year later to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he would have the best years of his career. In hindsight fellow defenseman Kevin Hatcher would of been the better draft selection for the Rangers instead of Carkner.
14 Chris Kontos - 1982
Kontos was a frequent flyer during his hockey career, after being drafted 15th overall by the Rangers. He spent only three seasons in New York's system before heading off to Finland. He would go on to play for 15 different professional teams, including four different NHL teams. When he was given a shot to play in the NHL he actually produced some good results. He had a career high 27 goals in 1992-93 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Rangers could have instead selected Dave Andreychuk who went to the Buffalo Sabres with very next pick after Kontos.
13 Stefan Cherneski - 1997
Cherneski had a solid junior hockey career. In his last season in the Western Hockey League while playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings, he finished second on the team with 43 goals. The Rangers selected him 19th overall hoping he could develop into a top six player. Cherneski was the final cut at the Rangers camp in his first pro season. He was sent down to Hartford of the AHL so he would get more playing time. His career pretty much ended before it started, as he suffered a serious knee injury in just his 11th game. He attempted a comeback but it was unsuccessful. Noteworthy names taken after Cherneski included Scott Hannan and Brenden Morrow.
12 Jayson More - 1987
More made a decent NHL career for himself as a steady stay at home defenseman as he would play in over 400 NHL games. The problem is he only played one single game for the team that drafted him 10th overall in 1987. After being selected by New York, he played parts of two seasons with the Rangers minor league affiliate. He was traded to Minnesota in 1989 and then to Montreal just a year later. He finally earned himself a consistent NHL role when he was selected by San Jose in the 1992 Expansion Draft. He was forced to retire in 1998 while playing for the Nashville Predators due to a concussion. The Rangers missed out on selecting arguably the best player of the 1987 draft in Joe Sakic, who went 15th overall to Quebec.
11 Jim Malone - 1980
Malone had a ton of success in junior hockey while playing for the Toronto Marlboros. He averaged nearly a point per game in the Ontario Hockey League. The Rangers selected him with the 14th overall pick. Malone would play his first professional season in 1982-83 with the Tulsa Oilers. He had a decent start to his season with 15 points in 29 games before suffering a season ending knee injury. That knee injury would hamper his development. He would be forced to retire because of it in 1985, never appearing in a single NHL game. Notable names selected after him included Brent Sutter and Barry Pederson.
10 Bobby Sanguinetti - 2006
Sanguinetti was a great offensive defenseman while playing for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. He put up 142 points in 202 games for Owen Sound. His offensive talent was attractive enough for the Rangers to draft him 21st overall. In his first full professional season with New York's AHL affilate in Hartford, Sanguinetti showed promise by scoring 42 points in 78 games. He continued to have success in the AHL but was traded to Carolina after only playing five games with the Rangers while also spending a brief time in Vancouver. So far in his career Sanguinetti has proven he can play in the AHL, but is just too much of a defensive liability when it comes to playing in the NHL. With the very next selection after Bobby Sanguinetti, the Philadelphia Flyers selected future NHL superstar Claude Giroux.
9 Peter Ferraro and Chris Ferraro - 1992
The Rangers selected both of the twin brothers Peter and Chris in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Peter was selected in 24th overall in the first round, while Chris was selected 85th overall in the fourth round. They both went on have great success with the Rangers minor league affiliate, but they never were able crack the Rangers lineup on a permanent basis. They were both put on waivers in 1997 where they were claimed by Pittsburgh. Both brothers would spend the rest their NHL careers bouncing up and down from the minors. The twin experiment was definitely a mistake on the Rangers part.
8 Dylan McIlrath - 2010
McIlrath is the only player on this list who is still playing for the Rangers. New York took the hulking defenseman with the 10th pick in the 2010 draft. He wasn't known for scoring, but he was one of the most intimidating players in junior hockey. He spent most of his first few professional seasons playing with the Rangers minor league affiliate. Although he didn't put up too many points, he did what he does best and piled up the penalty minutes. McIlrath finally got his break and earned an opening night roster spot for the 2015-16 season. McIlrath only projects to be a bottom pairing defenseman at best for the rest of his NHL career. In hindsight, the Rangers definitely jumped the gun on selecting him so early in the draft. New York missed out on selecting some great players who went later in the first round like Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
7 Al Montoya - 2004
Montoya has developed into one today's best NHL backup goaltenders. The problem is when you select a goalie as high as 6th overall, you expect them to become a starter at some point. Montoya's time with the Rangers was brief as he only played three seasons in their system before being shipped off to the Coyotes in 2008. His big break in the NHL came with his time spent playing for the New York Islanders. He played a career high 31 games for the Islanders in 2011-12. If in hindsight the Rangers knew how good Henrik Lundqvist was going to be, they would have surely stayed away from selecting a goaltender. A guy like Mike Green would have been great player for them to select instead. Montoya currently suits up for the Florida Panthers, backing Roberto Luongo.
6 Jeff Brown - 1996
Brown showed promise in the Ontario Hockey League as a big bodied defenseman who could produce some offense. The Rangers liked him enough to use the 22nd overall selection on him. He continued to have success in the OHL and in his final season of junior hockey he recorded a career high 54 points in 63 games. Brown struggled to adapt to the pro game. After a short stint with New York's American Hockey League affiliate, he was sent down to the East Coast Hockey League. He would spend the majority of his time in the ECHL while he was with the Rangers organization. Brown never came close to playing a game for the Rangers and in 2001 he found himself playing all the way across the pond in England. The Ranger's could have of selected the offensively gifted Daniel Briere, who went two selections later after Brown to the Phoenix Coyotes.
5 Dan Blackburn - 2001
Blackburn's story is a very unfortunate one. He was one of, if not the best goaltender in Canadian junior hockey, when he was taken 10th overall in 2001 by the Rangers. He spent majority of his first professional season in 2001-02 with New York. His numbers weren't the greatest, but it is not too often a teenager gets to play goaltender in the NHL. The following season in 2002-03 Blackburn posted similar mediocre numbers. During training camp ahead of the 2003-04 season, Blackburn suffered a serious shoulder injury which would cause permanent nerve damage. He would miss the entire 2003-04 season because of the injury. Blackburn attempted to make a comeback in 2005 with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL. Because of the nerve damage Blackburn was no longer able to use his catcher properly and instead tried to use two blockers. The experiment was a failure and in September of 2005 he officially announced his retirement at just the age of 22. Notable players selected after Blackburn include Dan Hamhuis and Ales Hemsky.
4 Michael Stewart - 1990
Stewart was selected 13th overall out of Michigan State University. The defenseman had some success for the the Rangers AHL affiliate in Binghamton, including a career high 50 points in 1993-94. He would never get a shot with the Rangers or any other NHL team for that matter. However, had nine successful seasons playing professional hockey in Austria before retiring in 2010. The 1990 draft was one of the best in NHL history. The Rangers missed out on players like Martin Brodeur, Keith Tkachuk, and Felix Potvin.
3 Jamie Lundmark - 1999
Lundmark was a star offensive player in junior, averaging 1.36 points per game in the Western Hockey League. The 9th overall pick in the 1999 draft followed up his junior career with a great first pro season in the American Hockey League. He was amongst the top AHL rookies with 59 points in 79 games played. The following season he got his first taste of the NHL scoring 18 points in 55 games. He would never solidify anything but a limited role with the Rangers and was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005. He would then have a stint in Calgary where he would have the most success of his NHL career, but battled too much inconsistency. He would play a few games for the Maple Leafs before taking off to Europe in 2011. The first round of the 1999 draft is notoriously known for being a poor one, but the Rangers did miss out on selecting future NHL rookie of the year Barret Jackman.
2 Hugh Jessiman - 2003
The Rangers were salivating about the possibility of drafting the hometown boy Hugh Jessiman. When they selected him with 12th overall pick, it raised some eyebrows as the big power forward Jessiman had a lot of developing left to do. His first pro season was rather mediocre which was the same case for his next two seasons in the Rangers system. He was traded to Nashville for future considerations in 2008. So, after five years Jessiman was basically worth a bag of pucks to the Rangers. He did eventually get into two uneventful games with Florida Panthers, before he ended up in Europe. To make things worse for the Rangers was that the 2003 draft was one of the strongest in the history of the NHL. Just a few notable names taken after Jessiman include Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, and Ryan Getzlaf.
1 Pavel Brendl - 1999
Of all the players on this list, not one player showed as much promise as Pavel Brendl. He came over from the Czech Republic junior league to the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen in 1998. He immediately made an impact in his first season, leading the entire league in points with 134. That was enough to get the Rangers excited to select him with 4th overall pick. However Brendl never got a chance to get into a game with the Rangers, as he was part of the blockbuster deal that sent Eric Lindros to the Rangers from Philadelphia. It was in Philadelphia where he would have his best time in the NHL, which isn't saying much. His best season came in 2002-03, where he played 43 games and recorded just 12 points. Brendl was traded to Carolina in 2003 where he spent most of his time in the minors. He would play one more season in North America before heading to Europe after the 2005-06 season.
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